| Stage |

The Alley's As You Like It Ditches the Trees for the Forest

Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd says he wouldn't have thought of tackling Shakespeare's As You Like It if he hadn't known from the start who he was going to cast in the lead character role of Rosalind.

That will be Alley Company actress Elizabeth Bunch by the way.

"Rosalind is the longest female role in a Shakespeare comedy, and - more importantly - one of the most amazing. And brilliant. And funny. Along with Hamlet (and alone with him too, I think) you can almost imagine her writing the play she appears in. What other character can you say that about?"

Boyd says this will be the first time in seven years that the Alley is doing Shakespeare and the first time in 24 years it's doing As You Like It, the story of Rosalind and Orlando, two wanderers each banished from their home and family. Traveling in disguise and accompanied by faithful friends and devoted servants, they encounter lost relations, interesting characters, and true loves - with, of course, a few missteps along the way - all wrapped up in a oft-performed romantic comedy.

Even though much of the action takes place in the Forest of Arden, Boyd promises the stage will not be overwhelmed with greenery. "I think one of the things that sinks productions of As You Like It in my experience is that the sets are cluttered with too many fake trees. Shakespeare's forests are not necessarily real forests. The forest of Arden is a place that not everybody looks at the same way. So no trees. None. Not One."

Company members in this production include Chris Hutchinson, James Black, Jeffrey Bean and Todd Waite as well as returning actors John Feltch and Nicole Rodenburg. Emily Trask (coming here from New York's Lincoln Center Theatre and the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl's, The Oldest Boy) makes her Alley debut as Celia.

As You Like It Opens February 4 and continues through February 22 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Alley Theatre@UH, UH's Wortham Theatre, 4116 Elgin. For information call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $26-$74 .

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