As You Like It — Shakespeare’s beloved romantic comedy opens at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                     Contact: Tina Slak, 610.282.WILL [9455]
July 17, 2017,                                                                            Tina.Slak@pashakespeare.org
Center Valley, PA—

Love notes grow on trees as wit, wrestling, poetry and music create a rare theatrical enchantment in William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, As You Like It on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of DeSales University.

Directed by Matt Pfeiffer, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production previews July 20 and 21, opens July 22, and continues through August 6 in repertory with Ken Ludwig’s swashbuckling romp The Three Musketeers.

Pfeiffer celebrates his 19th season at PSF with a cast of familiar Festival collaborators: Marnie Schulenburg and real-life husband Zack Robidas, who played romantic leads in Pfeiffer’s Henry V (2015) and The Two Gentlemen of Verona (2014), play the lovers Rosalind and Orlando respectively. Dan Hodge who appeared as Tranio in Pfeiffer’s The Taming of the Shrew (2016) will play the court jester Touchstone. Ian Merrill Peakes, whom Pfeiffer originally saw in the role of Orlando in PSF’s 1996 production of As You Like It, plays the “melancholy” Jacques.

The cast includes PSF newcomers Esau Pritchett, who doubles as the two (malicious and kind) Dukes, the uncle and father to the banished Rosalind, Stella Baker as Celia the devoted friend who retreats with Rosalind to The Forest of Arden, John Keabler as Orlando’s older brother Oliver, who hires the wrestler Charles (Mike Rossmy) for a baneful tangle with Orlando.

Rounding out the cast: Paul Kiernan as Orlando’s aged and loyal servant Adam, Sean Patrick Higgins as Silvius the shepherd who woos the shepherdess Phebe (Kelsey Rainwater), and Alexander Sovronsky as the minstrel Ameins.
Alex Bechtel is the composer, music director, and sound designer of the melodious comedy.

As You Like It is one of Shakespeare's most musical plays. My work with Alex Bechtel has been to use music as a way of illuminating Shakespeare's text and providing deeper insight into the characters,” says Pfeiffer. “What's exciting with this production is the way Shakespeare uses song to capture spirit and energy. It’s a joy to mix Alex's original music with Shakespeare's.”

Making their PSF debuts are award-winning designers Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic designer) and Devon Painter (costumes). Masha Tsimring is the lighting designer and Christian Kelley-Sordelet is the fight choreographer. Alison Hassman serves as the production stage manager and Carolyn Reich is the assistant stage manager.

As You Like It is sponsored in Memory of Bob Cohen and by DeSales University, in memory of PSF founder Fr. Gerard J. Schubert, O.S.F.S.

David B. Rothrock and Patrina L. Rothrock are the 2017 season sponsors. Associate season sponsors are the Szarko Family, Harry C. Trexler Trust, and Linda Lapos and Paul Wirth.

As You Like It and The Three Musketeers will play in repertory with the same cast. Please order early for the best seating options.

Performances on the Main Stage:
Thursday, July 20, preview              8PM
Friday, July 21, preview                   8PM
Saturday, July 22, opening              8PM
Sunday, July 23 & August 6             7:30PM
Tuesday, July 25                               8PM
Thursday, July 27                              8PM
Friday, July 28 & August 4               8PM
Saturday, July 29                               8PM
Sunday, July 30                                 2PM
Wednesday, August 2                       8PM
Saturday, August 5                           2PM

Single tickets start at $25; youth, senior citizen, military, and group discounts are available.

Beginning 45 minutes before each performance, PSF’s education director Jill Arington will host pre-show “Prologues,” brief talks that explores the plot and characters of As You Like It for those interested in a deeper understanding of the play.
Savoring Shakespeare: specialty dining themed to the play with behind-the-scenes insights on Saturday, July 29, 5:00pm dinner; Sunday, July 30, 11:00am brunch (in combination with Troilus and Cressida). Tickets are $38 and include full bar.

The remaining productions in the Festival’s 26th season also include: The Ice Princess (Now thru August 5); The Three Musketeers (Now thru August 6); Troilus and Cressida (July 26-August 6); and Shakespeare for Kids (July 26-August 5).
There will also be a one night only concert with Broadway star Dee Roscioli (Eva Peron in the PSF highly lauded and sold out production of Evita from earlier this summer) on Monday, July 31 at 7:30PM. Join us for an eclectic evening of Broadway, pop hits, and new original work, on the Main Stage. Tickets are $38.

PSF is a constituent of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national organization for American theatre, and a member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Shakespeare Theatre Association, the Lehigh Valley Arts Council, and Discover Lehigh Valley.

For tickets, contact PSF at 610-282-WILL[9445], ext. 1, or www.pashakespeare.org.

PATRICK MULCAHY (Producing Artistic Director) Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s return to artistic excellence and financial stability, built the professional company of artists, oversaw the quadrupling of the endowment, and achieved increasing national recognition for the Festival. Further accomplishments include PSF’s first-ever awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and attracting a company of artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Emmy, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Jefferson, and Barrymore awards to the Festival, growth in all income areas, a 75% increase in annual attendance, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. As a professional director, actor and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television, and radio. Mulcahy has acted with Angela Bassett, Peter MacNicol, Hal Holbrook, Joan Cusack, Don Cheadle, Anne Meara, Milo O’Shea, Cynthia Nixon, Tony Shaloub, Bradley Whitford, and others at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Syracuse Stage, and the Walnut St. He served as a fight director for Tom Hulse and Timothy Busfield in A Few Good Men on Broadway and for Off-Broadway productions starring John Savage, John Mahoney, Marcia Gay Harden, and Patrick Dempsey. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed Julius Caesar (2016), Macbeth (2014), Hamlet (2011), Antony and Cleopatra (2009), The Winter’s Tale (2007), Henry IV, Part I (2005), The Tempest (1999), and acted in and served as fight director for The Taming of the Shrew (1998) and Julius Caesar (1997). Also head of acting at DeSales, Patrick holds an MFA from Syracuse University.

MATT PFEIFFER (Director) a Philly born actor and director, and 19th season at PSF. Some previous PSF directing credits include; The Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and The 39 Steps. Recent credits include; A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Arden), Hand to God (Philadelphia Theatre Company), and Constellations (Gulfshore Playhouse). Other Credits; InterAct, Walnut St, 1812 Productions, Lantern, Delaware Theatre Co., Orlando Shakespeare, UArts, and UPenn's Mask and Wig. Matt is a twelve-time Barrymore nominee and winner, for his direction of The Whale and The Invisible Hand (Theatre Exile). He's also a recipient of the F. Otto Haas Award. Matt is a graduate of DeSales University.

Artist bios (alphabetical order):
STELLA BAKER (Celia) is a second-year MFA candidate at Yale School of Drama, where she appeared in Our Lady of 121st St., The Dog Pack Play, Othello, and Everything that Never Happened. Other credits include Styx Songs, and The Quonsets (Yale Cabaret). She holds a BA in philosophy from Reed College, where she appeared in Julius Caesar and The Bacchae and spent a semester with the American Conservatory Theater.

ALEX BECHTEL (Music Director/Composer/Sound Designer) is a Philadelphia-based theatre artist. As an actor, composer, sound designer, writer & director, Bechtel’s work has appeared on the stages of most Philadelphia theatre companies.  He is a graduate of The Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training (Graduate of the Inaugural Class, 2013) and The University of the Arts (BFA 2008), where he now teaches Freshman Acting Studio.  Bechtel has received Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Music Direction (Walnut St. My Way)and Outstanding Ensemble of a Musical (Theatre Horizon’s Into the Woods). Bechtel was a 2015 and 2016 Finalist for the F. Otto Haas Award for Outstanding Philadelphia Emerging Theatre Artist. 

Brian Sidney Bembridge (Scenic Designer) PSF debut. Off-Broadway: The Public Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, The Flea. International: Theatre Royal Stratford East in London, Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Platform Hip Hop Festival in Sydney, Australia, among others. Regional: Guthrie Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, Looking Glass Theatre Company (Artistic Associate), The Second City, Victory Gardens Theater, Drury Lane Theatres, Opera Omaha. Honors: LA Drama Critic Circle Awards, LA Weekly Awards, and an Ovation Award.

ALISON HASSMAN (Production Stage Manager) 12th production with PSF; New York: Hamilton, The Nutcracker (New York City Ballet, Lincoln Center), Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Me and the Girls(Roundabout, with Alan Cumming), Cherry Lane, Westside Theatre, 59E59, York, 24 Hour Play Company.  Regional: McCarter, Two River, Delaware Theatre Company, Theater Horizon, Trinity Rep, Bristol Riverside, Premiere Stages, Philadelphia Theatre Company.  

SEAN PATRICK HIGGINS (Silvius) PSF debut.Regional: Wintertime (Yale Cabaret); Pericles (Elm Shakespeare Company); The Liar, Much Ado About Nothing, Romeo and Juliet (Livermore Shakespeare Festival); Noises Off, Taming of the Shrew (Idaho Repertory Theatre). Yale School of Drama: Macbeth, Women Beware Women, Winter's Tale, Deer and the Lovers, Paradise Lost. He is also the recipient of the Jerome L. Greene and Wesley Fata Awards. BADA, Oxford. MFA, Yale School of Drama

DAN HODGE (Touchstone) For PSF: Taming of the Shrew, Henry V, Measure for Measure, King Lear and The Winter’s Tale.  In Philadelphia: Walnut St., Arden, Wilma, InterAct, Theatre Exile, Curio and Hedgerow Theatre.  A co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective he appeared in Changes of Heart, Creditors, Fair Maid of the West, his one-man The Rape of Lucrece, and directed their productions of The Duchess of Malfi and Timon of Athens, and Mary Stuart.  Dan holds his MFA in Acting from the USD/Old Globe, San Diego.

JOHN KEABLER (Oliver) Selected Regional Theatre: Merchant of Venice, Richard III, It’s a Wonderful Life (The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey);  Henry IV part 1 and 2 (The Shakespeare Theatre of DC); Romeo and Juliet, Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet, Measure for Measure, the world premiere of In This Corner (The Old Globe). SelectedFilm and television: Sugar (starring Alice Ripley), Faith, Love and Whiskey; Madam Secretary30 Rock, All My Children.  MFA from The Old Globe.

PAUL KIERNAN (Adam, LeBeau, Corin) Favorite roles include: Cyrano in Cyrano (Hangar Theater), Juror #10 in 12 Angry Men (Pioneer Theater), Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew (Tennessee Shakespeare), Friar Lawrence in Romeo & Juliet (PSF). Film and TV: From the Earth to the Moon, Luck of the Irish, Go Figure, The Cell 2, Ice Spiders. As a writer, his plays have been produced in New York, Florida, Boston, and Michigan. He holds an MFA from Brandeis University.
Devon Painter (Costume Designer) New York: Pearl Theater Company; Ensemble Studio Theatre; Juilliard. Regional Theatre:  Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Guthrie Theater; Geva Theatre Center; Contemporary American Theatre Festival; American Players Theatre; Denver Center Theatre Company; Folger Theatre; The Studio Theatre; Utah Shakespearean Festival; Westport Country Playhouse. Her costume designs were selected for the exhibit, Curtain Call: Celebrating a Century of Women Designing for Live Performance. Awards: Connecticut Critic Circle Award nominee (I Do! I Do!, Westport Country Playhouse). Education: MFA, University of Texas at Austin.

IAN MERRILL PEAKES (Jaques)12th PSF show (Much Ado, Othello, Shrew among others). Last season included a three theater tour of Charles III at ACT in San Francisco, Seattle Rep, and The Shakespeare Theatre in DC; most recently Timon at the Folger. Two Best of Denver Awards. Nominated for six Barrymores (won three), four Helen Hayes Awards (won one) and the winner of the 2003 F. Otto Haas Award for Emerging Artist.

ESAU PRITCHETT (Duke Frederick/Senior) was born in Saginaw, MI. He earned a BA in Theatre/Performing Arts from Oakland University in Rochester, MI. He has been working in theatre, television and film for over a decade. PSF debut. His theatre credits span the spectrum of contemporary works and classical theatre, especially Shakespeare. Television: HBO’s The Night Of, Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, Law and Order, Chicago PD and Netflix’s Iron Fist.

KELSEY RAINWATER (Phebe) Regional: Shakespeare Theatre Company: Macbeth (Young Siward/Ensemble). Rutgers Theatre Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Helena), Carlo At the Wedding (Eva), Balm in Gilead (Judy). International: Sam Wanamaker Festival at Shakespeare’s Globe (Titania), Shakespeare’s Globe: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania). Training: Rutgers University and Shakespeare’s Globe: MFA.

CAROLYN REICH (Assistant Stage Manager) Third season with PSF; New York: Autumn (Billie Holiday Theatre); Esai’s Table, The Surgeon and Her Daughters (Cherry Lane Theatre); National Tour: The Bodyguard (Troika Entertainment), The Bridges of Madison County (NETworks); Regional: West Side Story, Les Misérables (PSF); Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage (Trinity Repertory); Into the Woods (McCarter). Carolyn is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

ZACK ROBIDAS (Orlando) has appeared in PSF’s Henry V (title role), Love’s Labour’s Lost (Berowne), The Foreigner (David), The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Proteus), Measure for Measure, The Importance of Being Ernest, Othello, The Winter’s Tale, Taming of the Shrew, and Macbeth. Film: It’s Complicated, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Arbitrage, The Golden Scallop, Stereotypically You and the recently completed Empathy Inc. He has also appeared on episodes of Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, CSI NY, Marvel’s Defenders, and Law and Order.

MIKE ROSSMY (Charles/Sir Oliver Martext) Previously at PSF: Tybalt (Romeo and Juliet) and Fight Director (West Side Story). Broadway: Superior Donuts, Cymbeline.  T.V. and Film: Kevin Can Wait, Banshee, Law and Order, and The Guiding Light. Fight Directing: Troilus and Cressida at New York Shakespeare Festival (2016 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Fight Choreography). Michael is a faculty member at The Yale School of Drama and the Stage Combat Supervisor for Yale College.

MARNIE SCHULENBURG (Rosalind) NY/Regional: How I Learned to Drive (Second Stage), The Yellow Wood (New York Music Festival dir. B.D. Wong), 24 Hr Plays (dir. Moises Kaufman); South Pacific, The Foreigner, Henry V & The Two Gentleman of Verona (PSF). TV: As The World Turns, One Life To Live, Elementary, Manhattan Love Story, Royal Pains, Army Wives, & Fringe. Selected Film: Made for Each Other, Three Sessions and The Golden Scallop.  

ALEXANDER SOVRONSKY (Amiens) NYC credits include Cyrano de Bergerac (Broadway with Kevin Kline), and numerous productions at The Public/NYSF, TFANA, Atlantic Theater, Red Bull Theater, Classical Theater of Harlem, The Pearl, Hang A Tale, Resonance Ensemble, Teatro Circulo, and Happy Few Theatre Co. Regionally, credits include Shakespeare & Company, Barrington Stage, The Walnut Street Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Hartford Stage, Wharton Salon, Connecticut Repertory Theater, and the American Shakespeare Center at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Internationally, he played the title role in Hamlet at Teatro Franco Parenti in Milan, Italy (and also resumed the role in a NYC remount of the production). He has written music and sound designed for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and numerous regional theaters. Alexander teaches at Mary Baldwin University and George Washington University at their graduate acting programs, teaching classes and workshops on the dramatic functions of music & sound in Shakespeare's plays.

MASHA TSIMRING (Lighting Designer) is a NYC based lighting designer for performance. Recently: As You Like It (CalShakes); The Garden of Forking Paths (Nichole Canuse Dance Co.); My Fair Lady (Playmakers Rep); Constellations (Wilma); Grounded (Interact); In the Next Room (Chautauqua Theatre Co.); Minor Character (New Saloon); The Bachelors (Lesser America); Invisible Hand (Theatre Exile); The Price (Triad Stage); MFA - Yale School of Drama.

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