As You Like It preview

Josephine Orr

As You Like It, a modern musical Shakespeare adaptation, has challenged the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) drama department to adapt and work together to create an innovative production. With the show premiering this Thursday, cast members were eager to discuss the inner workings of this year’s production.
Following last year’s production of West Side Story, Theater Director Brooke Ditchfield was unsure of where to go for the following show. “It was kind of the Everest of musicals, and I wasn’t sure where to go from there. It seemed like the right time to do something completely new and completely different.”
With that in mind, the department chose As You Like It —a modern adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play— to be this year’s production. Ms. Ditchfield said, “My goals every year are to find material that is going to stretch the ensemble that we have and I think that this production has done it.”
The story of As You Like It follows a group of characters who have been exiled from a harsh court under the rule of an evil Duke to the forest of Arden, a fantastical and welcoming world where people fall in love, have their hearts broken, and find a community that accepts them for who they are. The original plot and text remains from Shakespeare’s version, but modern songs were added by writers Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery. The musical premiered at the Public Theatre in New York City in 2017, and MVRHS is one of the first high schools to do a production of it.
Stage Manager junior Violet Cabot said, “Deciphering the story and trying to figure out how to best tell it has been a challenge for the staff because the script is written in Shakespearean English.”
The production has endeavored to include two new ‘firsts’: a gender-blind casting process, and same-sex relationships. “This year’s production features same-sex relationships because that hasn’t been typical of previous plays the school has done.
Ms. Ditchfield credited the entire cast for rising to the occasion, but there have been some unexpected standouts. “Hugo Burrows, he’s a freshman and we didn’t see him coming. The energy that he brings is awesome, but we chose the show specifically for the students we know we have so that they will shine, and they will discover things in themselves that maybe they didn’t before, and I think that we did a good job with that this year.”
Ms. Ditchfield tries to switch between heavy and light shows every year, and with West Side Story having such dark themes, the department really pulled for a comedy. Violet said, “There are bright colors on the set, there’s fun music, and there are general themes of happiness and love.”
The show runs February 14-17, with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm , and Sunday at 2pm. Admission is $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults.