Maybe most people do not want to admit it, but there is certain joy to be had in watching those high school movies from the 1980's. Most people would also admit that there is a joy in watching Shakespeare's plays. So what better way to get the utmost joy and entertainment out of a piece of theater than by combining the two? An adaptation of As You Like It, Sammy Buck and Daniel S. Acquisto's new musical Like You Like It does just that and the result is a cute and entertaining evening filled with identity confusion, high school politics, and ultimately, the right couples getting together. The year is 1985 and the enchanted Arden forest has been cut down to make way for the Arden Mall, where “who knows, you might find enchantment in the shops.” The students of Courtland High School are excited about the mall's opening and the big dance-off that evening. However, bookish and shy Rosalind is beating herself up over her inability to talk to Orlando, on whom she has a crush. Meanwhile, Orlando, who secretly likes Rosalind, is under the clutches of the rich and beautiful Audrey Shepherd. When the two finally do get to speak to each other, Orlando's geeky, hall monitor older brother catches them skipping class and suspends Rosalind and her cousin Celia.
Threatened with expulsion, Rosalind and Celia hatch a plan to show up at the dance that night—Rosalind becomes Corey, a college aged boy, while Celia dresses like a Madonna-wannabe. Their disguises cause much confusion in the hours leading up to the dance, and if the story weren't such a familiar one, it would be uncertain whether all would work out in the end.
Like You Like It is a successful adaptation and update. The politics of state translate well into the politics in high school. As the love between the characters in As You Like It never develops beyond the superficial, that also translates well into a high school setting. The comedy and interest lies in the present action, not in where the characters will be after graduation.
The music successfully imitates the pop from the time period. The script is rife with pop culture and Shakespearean references. For instance, the band is called the “Seven Stages of Man.” The costumes bring back the cringe worthy fashions (crimped hair, popped collars, ruffly taffeta dresses) from the era while the set is painted in boldly hideous 80's colors—teal and purple. The ensemble cast is unified and strong and features many high school stereotypes—the lemmingesque cheerleaders, the “goth girl,” the jocks. Hollis Scarborough is delightful as the frivolous Celia while Alison Luff is genuine as Rosalind. Her schoolgirl awkwardness is nearly palpable as is her exuberant confidence as Corey.
Like You Like It is a fun filled show and is perfect for when you want something Shakespeare but with an 80's beat and a teenage vibe. Everything about the show is delightful, from the cast to the music to the source material.