By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Angela Thomas directs a cast of seventeen through frequent scene changes so seamlessly that you never notice a bit of overt staging. She's also obviously imparted a great deal of knowledge about the play to the cast. Each action and reaction appears spontaneous, natural. While every player performs admirably A both in individual roles and as a unit A the standouts are R.A. Smith as the evil Duke Frederick, Kerry Sensenbach as Jacques, the amusing Teressa Turiano as Phoebe, and, best of all, Desiree Sheridan as Rosalind. Sheridan's speeches trip effortlessly off her tongue, and she demonstrates a wide range of honest emotions, making her believable both as a man and a woman. Rosalind is one of Shakespeare's great women, a female possessed of self-confidence and wit, purity and tenderness. Sheridan vividly brings this potent goddess to life.
As Rosalind's lover, Orlando, Paul Thomas displays a tad too much hysteria; curiously, this still works, because Shakespeare regarded brash young men with raging hormones and lofty ideals as slightly ridiculous. In contrast to Sheridan's composure, Thomas's excesses provide subtle comedic touches. Thomas also has contributed to this production by writing lovely original music to suit Shakespeare's lyrics, and these ballads are sung hauntingly by another talented cast member, Christopher Railey, who plays Amiens, another lord attending the good Duke Senior.
To be honest, I was less than thrilled by the prospect of seeing As You Like It in a small, non-Equity house. To make matters worse, a lightning storm raged before the curtain rose, and several times during the show the lights flickered. But the cast never wavered, conducting themselves as consummate professionals and "using" the thunder, making it seem by their actions as if Shakespeare had written it into the play. I was humbled. Not only was I reminded that the Bard was not boring, that his plays were infinitely more enthralling than a shallow technofest like Miss Saigon, but also that small theaters in South Florida can produce excellent work, worthy of any stage in the world.