As You Like It
If you’re having a little déjà vu, we understand—it seems like everything is Shakespeare this summer. In fact, this is our second Shakespeare article in a row. But last week’s piece focused on the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, and the hour-long drive and relatively pricey tickets aren’t for everyone. Fortunately, you don’t need to go all the way to Tahoe to see Shakespeare this summer or even pay for a ticket. The Nevada Shakespeare Company and Gold Hill Theater Troupe will bring As You Like It to Bartley Ranch on Aug. 6, and one of the best things about it is it’s free.
This gender-bending Shakespearean comedy follows the adventures of Rosalind and Celia, young cousins who run away from home disguised as boys to escape the wrath of their quarreling fathers—and, of course, to find love. Michele Reynolds of the Gold Hill Theater Troupe will play the role of Rosalind.
“She’s quite a fun character to play because it’s almost like Rosalind within the play is directing everybody,” says Reynolds. “She’s trying to put everybody’s life back together, and meanwhile, she’s dressed as a man. She’s very fun, very creative, a very complex character.”
Reynolds, 31, is originally from Georgia and has been acting for 19 years. She’s taught drama classes in Las Vegas, directed a children’s theater and both writes and performs in original Comstock-themed plays for the Gold Hill company. She says she’s excited by the challenges this role presents, not the least of which is mastering the accent. “[The director] does not like my Southern accent at all,” says Reynolds, laughing. “It’s almost like another language just to not stretch my syllables.”
“Our director [Jeanmarie Simpson] has brought this to a new level, a new dimension,” explains Reynolds. “She’s developing our characters by really making us explore the characters—not just on paper but what they feel, what their motivations are, what obstacles are in the way—and we take the personalities and make them into characters.”
Reynolds says she’s very pleased with the collaboration between the two companies. “Because I’ve done so much theater,” she says, “I’m learning something new and being challenged and working with really incredible actors.”
A certain playful self-awareness adds another layer to the production, she adds. “Orlando [who’s in love with Rosalind] realizes that Rosalind is Rosalind, and Rosalind knows that Orlando knows, so it becomes like a game,” Reynolds says. “It’s a very sexy play, and it’s fun because they’re playing this game back and forth, and at the same time it’s all unspoken … And, of course, it’s just a big love story.”
Ultimately, says Reynolds, As You Like It is a light, high-spirited romp.
“It’s a fun play. You don’t have to think too hard about it—it’s just innocently sexy and romantic and fun,” she says. “There’s betrayal, redemption, and you leave there feeling like everything was fixed.”
And, of course, there are also plenty of laughs. “There’s a great wrestling match,” Reynolds adds. “We said, ‘Cross dressing and wrestling are right up our alley!'” It’s a sentiment with which the Bard would surely agree.