Although many entertainment events promise to have something for everyone, not all can deliver. When it comes to theater, it's hard to beat Shakespeare, and "As You Like It," which opens this weekend at The Empty Space, is at the top of the list.
"It’s romantic, it's fun, dramatic at the beginning," said director Bob Kempf. "It has a little bit of everything, even some songs and dancing."
Kempf, no stranger to the Bard as an actor or director, names this comedy as one of his top three Shakespeare picks. (His other two are currently "Twelfth Night" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream.")
The play focuses on Rosalind (Cristina Goyeneche) who is banished from court by her uncle, Duke Frederick, (Steve Evans). She flees with her cousin, Celia (Taylor Santos), and Touchstone (Angela Poncetta), who is regarded as one of Shakespeare's funniest fools, to the Forest of Arden. Orlando (Carlos Vera), in love with Rosalind, also ends up in the forest after being run off by his older brother, Oliver (Sal Vidaurri).
Once there, the new forest inhabitants encounter a motley band of shepherds, banished aristocrats, everyday folks and a melancholy lord, Jaques (Alissa Morrow), responsible for oft-quoted lines like "all the world's a stage."
As is the case with Shakespeare, there is freedom in the staging of the production. This show isn't set in a certain time period but has an aesthetic both tropical and bohemian, Kempf said.
"This one I thought I'd be a little more eclectic," he said. "It's a melange of looks and ideas together. So much of the play is about characters traveling to find a new life that the place they go to should be somewhere colorful and fun."
Speaking of colorful and fun, the theater's Space Bar will be serving some themed cocktails for the comedy. Options include Exile Elixer (vodka and lemonade, with a splash of blue Curacao), Rosé Rosalind (rosé wine, peach schnapps, peach juice, sliced peaches and strawberries) and Orlando Crush (vanilla bourbon and Crush Orange Soda, topped with whipped cream).
At the risk of making people regard the play as very serious, Kempf said he'd like audiences to consider life's journey over the simple destination.
"So much in our lives we're always thinking about where we want to be rather than focusing on where we are. The small decisions that help us get to those places, it's the little things along the way that add up and make your ultimate destination even more special, considering the things you've learned along the way."
"As You Like It" runs Fridays and Saturdays through May 11 with a special Bard's Birthday Bash matinee on April 28 with champagne.