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As You Like It - Lucy Gransbury (Phoebe), Mark Dickonson (Jaques), Louisa Fitzhardinge (Rosalind), Charlie Sturgeon (Orlando) and Claire Nicholls (Celia) (MED RES) - PLEASE CREDIT MATT DELLER

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  – As You Like It’s melancholy Jaques.

 

Australia’s largest independent theatre company the Australian Shakespeare Company (ASC) is delighted to announce a colourful new production of the bard’s satirical musical comedy As You Like It.

 

From New Years Eve until 14 March 2015, the Royal Botanic Gardens will be transformed into a Shakespearian festival of fantastical fun.

 

Before the show, garden revellers can explore the Love Letter Labyrinth – a meandering maze into the depths of the gardens, and the Shakespeare Hub, a pop up bar of naughty and nice delights.

 

Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster or www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au.

On 15 November, ASC Artistic Director Glenn Elston won the 2014 Melbourne Award for his individual contribution to Melbourne’s profile. The City of Melbourne recognised his “enormous contribution to Melbourne and Australia’s artistic and community life, pioneering open-air theatre in Australia.” For Glenn’s winning statement and the list of 2014 Melbourne Awards winners click here.

 

“We are thrilled to be presenting our 26th Shakespeare Under the Stars in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens with the fabulously playful musical comedy As You Like It. It’s a wonderful celebration of renouncing hatred for love and a story that rejoices in feminine strength, wit and comedy,” says Glenn, who will direct the production.

 

As You Like It sees Shakespeare’s strongest female character Rosalind lead a bewildered journey of tangled hearts through the Forest of Arden. Four couples intertwine themselves in love disguised, unrequited, lustful and impulsive. After much confusion they finally arrive to find a love that celebrates the human spirit and joy in their newfound world.

 

“As You Like It has more songs than any other Shakespeare play, and is one of his most playful and deceptively clever satires. We’re going to have way too much fun developing and performing it!” says Elston.

 

Avid musical comedy improviser and WAAPA and Ballarat Arts Academy graduate Louisa Fitzhardinge will make her main stage debut as Rosalind. Playing opposite in the romantic role of Orlando is ASC company member Charlie Sturgeon, a leading force in Melbourne’s improvised comedy world as both performer and instructor. Accomplished British and Australian musical theatre performer Mark Dickinson (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Cats) will play the enigmatic role of melancholy Jaques.

 

A talented troupe of versatile performers will complete the cast, with accomplished actress and ASC company member Claire Nicholls in the role of Celia. Lucy Gransbury, who plays Sally the pirate in Caribbean Pirates at Polly Woodside by day, will transform into Phoebe the shepherdess in As You Like It at night. Veteran stage actor and ASC company member Kevin Hopkins will play Duke Frederick, Duke Senior and Audrey. After starring in ASC’s Hamlet earlier this year, Hugh Sexton will play OliverTony Rive returns from Northern Territory season with Brown’s Mart to take on the role of Touchstone. Scott Jackson rounds out the cast in the role of Silvius.

 

Every summer Melbourne’s iconic Royal Botanic Gardens are a hive of activity with thousands Melburnians, Victorians, national and international visitors enjoying Glenn Elston’s Shakespeare Under the Stars and family favourite The Wind in the Willows.

 

The City of Melbourne and Arts Victoria have applauded Glenn Elston and the Australian Shakespeare Company for achievements in their mission to make theatre accessible to the wider community. Since it’s inception, the company has played to over a million people nationally with critically acclaimed annual summer seasons, indoor shows and indigenous festivals, concerts and plays.

 

Image Courtesy of MATT DELLER