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Setting clicks for spirited 'As You Like It'

By Werner Trieschmann, Special to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was originally published June 17, 2011 at 5:39 a.m. Updated June 17, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

Plan to perform As You Like It outdoors in June in Arkansas and you can expect to like it hot and steamy.

But just when Arkansas Shakespeare Festival was about to kick off its fifth season with Shakespeare’s comedy at the Hendrix Village, what must have been the only black cloud in the state parked itself over the stage as well as the waiting crowd sitting on blankets and chairs in front of it.

The black cloud didn’t produce any rain and the strong wind that came with it did push some curtains around but eventually the weather settled down. The happy result was a cool evening in which the game performers offered a spirited take on the comedy that goes to the forests of Arden to tangle and untangle many romantic knots.

The production, directed by Andrew Hamm, was playful and able to walk the very fine line of being funny without falling completely over into corny. An early wrestling match between the fearsome Charles (Dan Matisa, wearing a Mexican wrestling mask) and fearful Orlando (David Huynh) was a highlight. While the actors did have to compete with thunder rumbling in the distance and microphones that would cut out from time to time, they held the sizeable crowd’s attention. The Hendrix Village and Arkansas weather demonstrated that the Shakespeare Festival’s decision to take it outdoors was a smart one.

As You Like It continues with pay what you can performances at the Hendrix Village in Conway at 7:30 p.m. through Sunday.

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