The Bard, The Fab Four, The Rep or As You Like It

Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour

Roll up roll up for the Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour

Is waiting to take you away

Waiting to take you away

Take you today

Magical Mystery Tour (Lennon/McCartney)

No, Magical Mystery Tour isn’t one of the twenty or so songs that powers this 21st Century mash up of Beatles music and a 400 year old comedy from William Shakespeare, but it should be an ear worm as you go to your seat because a Magical Mystery Tour is what the Milwaukee Repertory Theater is going to provide when you attend this version of As You Like It!

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, photo by Michael Brosilow

And about that go to your seat. You will want to go to your seat ten or fifteen minutes early for a bit of pre-show music and a bit of foreshadowing of the action to come later. Trust me on this!

Starting with the solid bones of a Shakespeare comedy with the requisite villains and banished royalty and the resulting mayhem and then of course the woman going afield pretending to be a man is surprisingly enhanced by any number of appropriately selected and appropriately inserted Beatles songs. Who would have thought. But the whirlwind events plus the fluid cast movement from band member to featured soloist/character can sometimes add to the character confusion that Shakespeare revels in. But oh, never mind, what fun!

Daryl Cloran, who adapted and directed this production, had an over the top amount of fun tweaking the nose of the Beatles, William Shakespeare, and the Summer of Love. Yes this is over the top in a good way and you will need to stay alert to catch the varied references to the Fab Four, Shakespeare’s common strategies, and every cliche from various cultural era of the late 1960s…and of course the odd merging of WWE style wrestling…you can in part blame that one on the Bard!

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, photo by Michael Brosilow

Savannah L. Jackson as the heroine Rosalind and Justin Gregory Lopez as her lovelorn love interest are incredible in establishing and toying with their relationship(s) as their situations and interactions change. From that first meeting through the hidden identity to the grande finale, they are the magic in the As You Like It part of this event.

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, photo by Michael Brosilow

But my goodness, Lizzy Brooks as Celia just exhibits an incredible voice and her renditions of Beatles songs, for me, stole the show! Another favorite vocal standout is Kurt Schwietz, who plays a number of roles throughout the evening.

And, I almost forgot…don’t miss our resident despondent beat poet Andy Warhol look a like, Jacque, most ably played by Trish Lindstrom!

And in a contemporary turn of events, with Savannah L. Jackson as Rosalind disguised as Ganymede, we have a woman playing woman playing a man…a bit of a twist on what Shakespeare would have written for his theater…a young man playing a young woman playing a young man. The Ganymede disguise would have been more believable in 1600 than in 2022 but now it is impossible not to see the woman beneath the male garb. But all the more fun because it twists and turns the jokes that Shakespeare built in making fun of the gender confusion…and it takes on some humorous new aspects in this presentation!

One small quibble…as a former cover band musician and long time Beatles fan, the drums were under mixed and the guitar could use a little more sass…particularly on Helter Skelter.

P.S. This is a British Columbia Invasion coming from the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival in Vancouver.

As You Like It just opened so there is plenty of time to see it between now and March 20, 2022 in the Rep’s Quadracci Powerhouse Theater! Here are the details and links for tickets. And please pay attention to the COVID safety protocols.

Extra credit reading?

The As You Like It program.

And the As You Like It Playguide.

Now, the only thing missing is Ed Sullivan’s “Ladies and Gentleman, THE BEATLES!”

Courtesy of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, photo by Michael Brosilow

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