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As You Like It

Helfaer cast takes on multiple roles in Shakespeare show

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As You Like It

Photo by Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Photo by Maryam Tunio

Photo by Photo by Maryam Tunio

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Helfaer Theater’s new show, “As You Like It,” aims to bring joy and laughter to audiences through Shakespearian language. The show opens Feb. 25 and runs through March 6.

“As You Like It,” follows Rosalind, who was banished from the court and is now living in the Forest of Arden with her cousin Celia. Rosalind disguises herself as a boy while in hiding. Orlando, who also leaves the kingdom, falls in love with Rosalind. In the very end, Rosalind reveals her identity and in good Shakespeare fashion, everyone ends up where they are supposed to.

Rosalind is often credited as being one of Shakespeare’s strongest leading female characters. Mackenzie Possage, a senior in the College of Communication, plays Rosalind in this production.

“She is independent and she knows what she wants and she goes for it,” Possage said. “Sometimes she is a little over the top and doesn’t think before she does something, but she has so much drive to do whatever she wants to do.”

Other actors, like Daniel Callahan, a senior in the College of Communication, have two roles. Callahan will play Charles the Wrestler and Jacques, a more demanding and prominent role.

In order to keep the two distinct, Callahan said he thinks about every detail of his characters. They each have distinct pitches and tones, personalities, and even walk and move differently.

Callahan’s talent is not limited to performance. He has played a major role in helping design and construct the sets as a scene shop assistant. He also contributed to lighting and sound elements of the production.

The set is deliberately made to accent the thematic elements of the show. There are scenic details that look like stain glass and were hand painted by students.

“(The set is) in a sense an art piece,” Callahan said. “It’s a larger than life kind of ultra beautiful place.”

While Callahan works behind the scenes for preparation, some students, like Jessica Szuminski, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, have the unique opportunity to be included in the cast while working technical elements of the production onstage.

Szuminski was cast as a musician, providing all of the sound effects onstage. This is vital to the show running smoothly since there is no soundboard.

This is Szuminski’s first main stage show with Marquette Theater. She was nervous for auditions but said once they got started, it was an overall pleasant experience.

Actors were required to memorize a Shakespearian monologue and sing for auditions. After auditions, some actors were called back to do sides, or reading snippets of the script with potential cast members.

Callbacks are important to see how people portray certain characters and if they have strong chemistry with certain people.

“A lot of people think when you audition for a show, if you’re perfect for the role, you’ll get it,” Possage said. “It’s primarily about who looks good together, who can act together and who has a chemistry.”

Having good chemistry with cast members is important in all shows, but especially in “As You Like It’ because of the dominant theme of love, which is shown in many forms, including romantic, familiarity and friendship.

“Love is a huge driving force for this show,” Possage said.

Aside from connecting with each other, the cast also has to connect with the audience. This has been difficult for this show since Shakespeare is not our natural vernacular.

In order to connect with the audience, it is important for the actors to understand their character’s motivations and intentions. For this reason, the cast was tasked with paraphrasing their lines during the start of rehearsals. If they know what drives them, they can focus on communicating that to get messages across where language may fall short.

Despite potential barriers in communication, Callahan said that it is critical to have every word memorized verbatim. Audiences know what Shakespeare wrote and what the characters are supposed to say and it is important to stay true to the original.

While everyone involved with the production has worked tirelessly to perfect every detail, the show has been condensed. Each act was shortened to create a more reasonable run time. However, many do not think this has changed the meaning of the show or even altered the plot.

Admist all of the late nights and hectic rehearsal schedules, Callahan, Possage and Szuminski are all ecstatic to start performing the show for audiences. Szuminski said the only frustration she’s had with the production is having to wait to actually perform.

“I’m so excited to actually present the show, that it’s almost frustrating that we’re not there yet,” Szuminski said.

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About the Writer
Aly Prouty, Managing Editor of the Marquette Journal

Aly Prouty is a senior from the Washington D.C. area, studying journalism and dance. She was previously the executive editor for the news and arts &...

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