“IF SHAKESPEARE WERE ALIVE TODAY, HE WOULD HAVE WRITTEN LIKE THIS.” The score … would be chart-climbers if this were a time when show tunes still climbed charts. -David Finkle, theatremania.com
“GLEEFULLY SENDS UP THE ERA’S MUSIC, AND THE TUNES INCORPORATE VARIOUS ROCK, PUNK, AND POP STYLES.” -Matthew Murray, talkingbroadway.com
“LIKE YOU LIKE IT DESERVES GREAT SUCCESS, TOO, AND WILL WIND UP BEING PRODUCED EXTENSIVELY IN HIGH SCHOOLS.” -Peter Filichia, theatremania.com
What happens when you mix the classic William Shakespeare comedy of As You Like It with the wildly popular genre of music and culture of John Hughes’ 1980s films?
The result is a new and exciting musical adventure centered on the coolest locale of the time… the Robin Sparkles-esque 1980s mall scene.
Authors Daniel Acquisto (Music) and Sammy Buck (Book and Lyrics), collectively known as the team “Bucquisto,” created this new musical as a brand new adaptation of the old Shakespearian work, complete with fuzzy leg warmers, tight fitness spandex, and clothing outfits straight out of a Cyndi Lauper music video. In it, the lovely Rosalind, a play on the straight-A student of Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles, falls in love with the wrestling jock Orlando who turns out to love music and singing kind of like a real-life Troy/Zac Efron from Disney’s High School Musical.
The setting is no longer the Forest of Arden but the Arden Mall, an enchanted oasis and escape for the main characters to explore themselves and experience the joys and perils of falling in love. The freedom of the mall contrasted with the oppressive confines of Courtland High School, a clever play-on-words by author Sammy Buck of the Duke’s Court, pays homage to the pastoral literature of Elizabethan times. Written by Shakespeare as a pastoral comedy, As You Like It compares the overstated simplicity of country life to the complex and stressful life of cities and towns. Shakespeare’s play presents the country as something of an idyllic retreat that has the potential to help the former urban dwellers restore a helpful sense of balance in their messy and chaotic lives through contact with nature and conversations with representatives of this pastoral way of life, including shepherds and shepherdesses, who lived simpler lives than those who lived in cities and towns. At the Arden Mall, the people of the court are represented as the wealthy and educated members of Courtland High School’s elite and popular whereas the country folk are the atypical mallrats who hang out and socialize exclusively at their fixed place in the mall.
Like Shakespeare’s original play, Like You Like It deals with the common themes of love, identity, and cross-dressing, but to a whole new degree. After Rosalind and Celia are suspended from school (due to Audrey’s meanness and jealousy surrounding Rosalind’s beauty and the help of Oliver, the truancy officer and older brother of Orlando) they flee to the mall and must go undercover to avoid arrest. Rosalind disguises herself as typical frat boy “Corey” and Celia as “Ladonna,” a Madonna groupie, with the help of Touchstone, a lewd and vulgar junior who plays the role of the class clown. As “Corey,” Rosalind ends up messing with multiple relationships among her classmates and is soon found to be the object of desire for both guys and girls.
The climax occurs at the big school dance hosted by the Arden Mall. In the song Be With Me, Orlando cant seem to find Rosalind (because she is still masquerading as “Corey”) and sings an original song by him to her, an allusion to the poems that Orlando writes and posts to the tree trunks around the Forest of Arden in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. At last when Rosalind reveals herself to Orlando, and to Audrey, Sylvie, Phil, Oliver, and Jackie West (the cynical and rocker character modeled after the moody and sullen Jacques) in the song All Of The Above, she manages to tie up all the lose ends made throughout the story. Love comes to the many couples in the story and everyone learns … that it all works out “Like You Like It” if you take the greatest risk of all: being yourself.
Overall, this musical is a refreshing and warm adaptation of the Shakespearean classic and combines the music and style of the 80s with the classic elements of the Elizabethan stage. Like You Like It is a theatrical 1980s pop rock opera designed to thrill and make the work of Shakespeare a little bit more fun and relevant to the times.