Magazine Article for "As You Like It" (Page 20)
MCCTA PRESENTS SHAKESPEARE'S "AS YOU LIKE IT" (Monica Speranza, 3/26/09)
William Shakespeare's "As You Like It" illustrates traditional pastoral themes. As the director's notes in the program, "Most of us spend a lifetime trying to balance our lives of worldly ambition with the solace of home and hearth. We search for, discover, lose and rediscover love and its place in our lives. We seek wit and wisdom while holding the forces of cynicism and melancholy at bay."
In MCCTA's rendition of "As You Like It," some actors brought characters to life, while others struggled to feel comfortable with Shakespeare on a contemporary stage. What impressed me the most was how well the actors did Shakespeare justice, keeping my attention through a nearly three-hour show. The enthusiasm and energy never regressed. In fact, some actors drew momentum from the length and became better as the play went on.
The play opens with a "court" scene, which looks like a city-chic penthouse with a backdrop of a city skyline. The very first moment in the play was initially awkward due to the contrast between the Shakespearean language and the modern décor. This was quickly dissolved by the delivery of lines that displayed understanding of the text and great inflection to emphasize meaning. The quick recovery was not surprising, because after looking at the biographies of the cast, I felt secure in what quality to expect since the vast majority of the cast had much experience with theater.
The first material aspect of the play that caught my attention was the costumes. They effectively reflected modern-day social status that matched the hierarchy of characters. For example, the character of Oliver, played by junior Justin Santore, was dressed in a collared shirt covered by a blue sweater with slacks and his hair parted and slicked like a pretty-boy. Orlando, on the other hand, was dressed in casual jeans and a worn polo.
Some of the costumes seemed just slightly out of place. The most glaring examples of this to me were the first costume of Duchess Fredricka (senior Amy Kate Byrne) and the court costume of Rosalind (sophomore Kim Birch). The dress of Duchess Fredricka looked a tad matronly and out-of-date, rather than royal. The costume of Rosalind shocked me. Yes, it did reflect Rosalind's high status-she could surely afford sexy, expensive clothes-but the ideal Shakespearean Rosalind is so strong, wise, and confident that she should not need a revealing dress, showing her physique to display her femininity.
These critiques are quickly overshadowed when scene transitioning from court to "Arden," a beach scene, complete with gazebos, a boardwalk, long grass, and a beautiful sky backdrop. Duchess Senior (sophomore Jessica Turgeon) and her entourage enter from the house in bright beach attire that perfectly hits the mark. The getups and equipment they carried, such as "Shakespeare for Dummies," was unexpectedly funny.
Jaques, played by senior Kate Costello, is an interesting character often described as melancholy. Costello's performance was melancholic, but it was aggressive rather than sad or sympathetic like expected. Costello's delivery was unique and enjoyable, with each line stinging. The character of Eve (freshman Lina Kirby) gave me comfort. Eve exuded motherly warmth that gave purpose to her and Orlando's relationship. Kirby was very at ease with the Shakespearean language, which was a talent not shared by some of the other actors.
Orlando, having been all but kicked out by his brother, is a difficult role to play. I felt nervous at first for senior Kurtis McManus, as he was shaky in the first few moments of the play. He quickly shook it off, and delivered a delightfully lovesick Orlando. McManus clearly cared about the character, which was obvious by his careful and energetic acting, and he made the audience love him.
The character of Celia/Aliena (junior Alexa Mullen), impressed me. Celia was probably my favorite character, since Mullen was so comfortable with the part. She did not overact. In fact, Celia upstaged Rosalind in the beginning-this, unfortunately, made Rosalind look bad, as she should be the standard others are measured against. However, this evened out when Birch improved as the play went on, but by no means did Mullen's quality lessen. Overall there were more highlights than letdowns. Overlooking these incidences, there were several moments when I thought things worked well. A favorite moment of mine was the great exchanging of wits between Jaques and Orlando. The line deliveries were perfect and it left me wanting more.
MCCTA IS "SECONDS FROM BROADWAY" (Amy Wheeler, 10/9/08)
The Marist College Council on Theater Arts (MCCTA) has a challenging and exciting season ahead, continuing this weekend with Neil Simon's "45 Seconds from Broadway."
Directed by MCCTA alum Jim Steinmeyer, the show opens Thursday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. You can also see it Friday, Oct. 10 and Saturday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. or Sunday, Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.
"I am excited that we have had the opportunity to work with Jim Steinmeyer on '45 Seconds from Broadway,'" said Amy Kate Byrne, MCCTA President. "He is a true teacher and has gained the respect of everyone who is working with him."
Matt Pagliaro, stage manager of the show, also felt that Steinmeyer is an asset to the production.
"He is great to work with, both from an actor's standpoint and from a production standpoint," Pagliaro said. "Not only does he have a great vision for the show, but he's also open to suggestions on how to make things work better.
"He actively shows a vested interest in helping the actors make the most of their parts, and his enthusiasm for the show is very contagious."
Pagliaro is also impressed with "45"'s cast, which includes Vinnie Pagano, Storm Heitman, Marc Costanzo, Justin Santore, Colin Rand, Ryan Houlihan, Kate Costello, Hillary Sterling, Stephanie McDonald, Adrienne Sabilia, Emily Callahan and Samantha Tobia.
"We've been rehearsing for one week now, but to look at this cast, you'd swear it was more," Pagliaro said.
The three freshmen of the cast - Heitman, Callahan and Tobia - have shown their dedication along with the rest of the cast.
"The cast needed to have their lines memorized in about ten days," Pagliaro said. "Emily [Callahan] set about memorizing hers in two. All three were eager to dive right in, and the results have been great."
"45 Seconds from Broadway" is both touching and funny, which is why Pagliaro thinks it has something for everyone. "It's hilarious," he said. "Neil Simon also wrote some very touching scenes."
The entire play takes place in a small coffee shop on 46th Street in New York City and follows characters whose lives intertwine.
"I would encourage everyone to see this show. We've only been rehearsing for a week, but we've already accomplished so much," Pagliaro said.
For their next endeavor, MCCTA will be co-hosting a fundraiser, "Marist's Got Talent," with the theater honorary society, Alpha Psi Omega, in November. The final show of the fall semester will be the "HuMarist Big Show" in December.
They have even more planned for the spring, including another fundraiser, "Match Game" in February, the musical "Urinetown" in March, Shakespeare's "As You Like It" in April, and a festival of staged readings of student written plays.
MCCTA started off their fall season on Sept. 20 with the dinner theater production of "Murder Me Always." The show sold out.
"I can't pick a show that I am most excited about because I can't wait to work on all of them," Byrne said. "Working with the passionate and dedicated members of this club makes every production worthwhile."