Ten Thousand Things' current show is the Shakespeare comedy As You Like It (paid performances continue weekends at Open Book through March 11, as well as a number of free performances throughout the area). I saw this play several years ago at the Guthrie, but I don't remember a whole lot about it other than the trippy 60s vibe of that production and the inclusion of music (always a plus in my book). But it wasn't hard to get into the story and the language in the hands of TTT. As You Like It is your typical Shakespearean romantic comedy, full of disguises and mistaken identities and banishments and declarations of love and hate, with everyone appropriately coupled off and happy at the end. But the journey to get there is pure delight.
Ten Thousand Things always attracts the best theater artists in the deep pool of talent that is the Twin Cities theater community, and this six-person cast is no exception:
- Maggie Chestovich is the slacker in the group - she only plays one character. ;) But in her defense Rosalind is more or less the main character, and she also dons the clothes of a man through much of the play so as to travel more safely in the forest after her banishment from the court. I've seen Maggie several times in TTT productions, and she's always fully present and real in her portrayal.
- The busy and talented Randy Reyes is Orlando, hopelessly in love with Rosalind and also banished from court by his greedy jealous brother. Randy also plays an old shepherd, which gives him the opportunity to ham it up in funny glasses and a hat. He's always entertaining in everything he does, and he's particularly good at engaging the audience here.
- Aimee Bryant (who just recently left the role of Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray at the Chan) is Rosalind's cousin/friend, and lucky for us, she also takes on the role of Amiens, which means she gets to sing and play a ukulele (with only two strings!). It's a joy to sit around the pretend campfire and listen to her sing, along with this guy...
- Kimberly Richardson's roles are pretty diverse too. She's a frail old man who is loyal to his master until death, a stuffy and formal court messenger, and a silly country girl, each with a specific physicality that would tell us who she is even without the costume changes (which in some cases are very quick!).
- The sound by Peter Vitale is almost like a seventh actor in the cast. It's like a soundtrack for a silent movie, accentuating every emotion and movement without distracting from it.