Full Synopsis

As You Like It

JAQUES, a philosopher, is experiencing writers block as she struggles to complete her new manifesto/philosophy. As she ponders over her opening phrase (“Prolouge: All The World’s A Stage”), the world of past and present collide in her imagination as we witness ORLANDO and ROSALIND grow up before our eyes. Orlando is the youngest son of the deceased Sir Rowland de Boys. Rosalind is the only child of the banished Duke Senior. We see them as young children filled with hope and possibilities, as angst filled ‘tweeners uncomfortable in their own skin and then finally as young adults alone and longing for their absent parents. Jaques ends the song with more questions than when she began and all three share the space isolated in their own grief. As the worlds break apart, we see Orlando alone at his family home. ADAM, the elderly, long time employee of the de Boys estate, warns Orlando that his elderly brother is looking for him. As Adam leaves to retrieve Oliver, Orlando sings alone (“The Man I’m Supposed To Be”) expressing all the grievances he has towards his brother who has not educated him the way he promised his father he would. Without options, Orlando prepares himself to fight in the Duke’s wrestling match. OLIVER returns with Adam and a fight between the brothers ensues ending with Adam breaking it up. As Orlando leaves, Oliver plots revenge on his brother. The AGENT of Bronco, Duke Frederick’s champion luchador wrestler, arrives to speak to Oliver where she tells him about his younger brother’s plan to wrestle in the Duke’s championship tournament. Oliver seizes the opportunity and makes a deal with the Agent to have Bronco kill Orlando in the ring.

Meanwhile in the court, ROSALIND is in her dressing room with her cousin CELIA, the daughter of the reigning Duke Frederick. Celia is trying to cheer her up by getting HISPERIA and all the Ladies in Waiting to dress her up. As this is happening, Rosalind sings her inner most feelings (“Rosalind Be Merry”). TOUCHSTONE, Duke Frederick’s clown. arrives telling them their presence is wanted at the wrestling match.

All the royal subjects arrive at the wrestling match to cheer on reigning champion, BRONCO (“The Wrestling Match”). One by one, we see Bronco easily defeat challengers FRANKIE FLOW and CAVEMAN. Orlando enters the ring and defeats Bronco. Impressed by his bravery, DUKE FREDERICK approaches Orlando and asks him to reveal himself. He proudly declares he is the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys which silences everyone. Duke Frederick tells him that his dead father was his enemy and denies him the championship title. The arena is immediately vacated by all as the court scrambles away to avoid the Duke’s anger. Alone, Orlando sings to an empty arena (“After The Match”). However, inspired by Orlando’s courage, Rosalind has also remained behind and gives him a necklace from around her neck that was her father’s. It is love at first sight. Orlando is tongue tied. In that moment of awkwardness, Celia and Touchstone drag Rosalind away. Orlando chides himself for not saying anything.

Back in her dressing room at the court, Celia witnesses a ‘changed’ Rosalind as she is floating from her encounter with Orlando. Rosalind admits she is in love when suddenly Duke Frederick bursts into her dressing room with his army of minions. Shaken by the victory of Orlando, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind from the court claiming she is guilty of being a traitor just like her father. Once he leaves, Celia plots to escape with her cousin into the Forest of Arden in search of Rosalind’s banished father. They plan to disguise themselves; Celia as a shepherdess called Aliena and Rosalind as a young man called Ganymede. They take the clown Touchstone with them.

Meanwhile, Adam stops Orlando from entering the family compound by alerting him to the news that his brother Oliver is planning to burn the lodging where Orlando sleeps. He encourages him to flee into the forest of Arden by giving Orlando his life savings and offering to join him and remain his faithful employee. Touched, Orlando accepts his offer and together they escape to Arden.

The world of Arden is revealed to us with the sound of drummers led by DUKE SENIOR and the entire community of Arden (”In Arden”) who sing and dance in solidarity. Jaques keeps interrupting, debating with Duke Senior, belittling the illusion of positive affirmations of overcoming adversity when there is so much pain and destruction in the world.

In another part of the forest, we discover GANYMEDE (Rosalind), ALIENA (Celia) and Touchstone arriving in Arden. They are tired, exhausted and hungry. They witness SILVIA, a young shepherdess speaking with PAPA CORIN, a farmer and MAMA CORIN, his wife, about her deep and profound love for PHOEBE, another shepherdess. Suddenly, Phoebe walks by and awkwardly Silvia tries to present her with some over the top romantic gesture that turns Phoebe off. She exits with Silvia in hot pursuit. Celia begs them to ask the CORINS for help which they willing do, leading them to their cottage that is for sale. As they exit, ANDY, a farmhand, walks by and says hello to Touchstone. Attracted, Touchstone exits in pursuit.
In yet another part of the forest, we see Orlando holding up a very weak Adam. Adam begs Orlando to allow him to just lie down and die but Orlando refuses begging him to stay alive.

It is time for the community potluck picnic. We witness all of Arden arriving from all parts of the forest to come and break bread together. They bring what they have and offer it up for the entire community. All ages, races, religions, and sexual orientations gather together helping, caring and feeding one another. It is a model society of acceptance, compassion and love. Duke Senior leads them all in a blessing of thanks (“Under the Greenwood Tree”). From out of nowhere, Orlando invades the sacred communal meal brandishing a weapon. He demands food but is disarmed by the kindness and compassion of Duke Senior and the community who invite him to sit and join them. He tells them of Adam who is dying and they invite him to join them as well. Orlando retrieves the ailing Adam who is immediately cared for by the community. Ashamed by his aggressive approach, Orlando privately confesses to Duke Senior his situation and discovers that his father and the Duke were close friends. The communal song ends with Orlando and Adam being taken in by this community of banished individuals.

Meanwhile back in the court, Duke Frederick learns from Hisperia that Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone have fled and believes Orlando might be in their company. Enraged, Duke Frederick orders his minions to find Oliver who he believes must know where his brother has fled.

Back in Arden, we discover Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone laughing over the discovery of the sappiest poems and love letters hanging from the trees. Yet, in another part of the forest, we discover Orlando writing and hanging those confessions of love (“Will U Be My Bride”). He is backed up by an all-male dance group known as De Boys. He allows his imagination to run wild of what he thinks love is and the role he plays in being the perfect groom. They are over the top, immature, unrealistic expressions of love. Now that he has found a family, he is ready to express his full love for Rosalind. Now that he is a son, he is ready to be a lover. We experience both Orlando and Rosalind in split screen, as one fantasizes and the other chides. Celia sends Touchstone off to share with Rosalind that Orlando is the author of these love notes and that he is here in the forest! Suddenly, he appears hanging notes in the trees. They hide and watch as Jaques appears to condemn Orlando for defacing the trees with bad poetry. Orlando sends her off only to have Ganymede appear offering to teach Orlando how to be ‘cured’ of love (“Imagine I’m Your Lover”). Not interested in being healed but intrigued by the challenge of his love being tested, Orlando takes Ganymede up on his offer. Let the games begin.

In another part of the forest, we see Andy still pursued by Touchstone who tries to woo him with witty banter. This does not impress Andy who does not trust the intentions of this man from the court. Trying to seduce him, Touchstone reveals that he has asked MARTEXT, an Ardenite priestess, to meet them in the forest to marry them. Andy is surprised and moved by Touchstone’s bold declaration of love and willingness to make a commitment. He agrees to marry him. Martext appears and when she says someone must be there to witness the ceremony, Touchstone privately whispers to her that he prefers to not be married well so it can provide him with an excuse to leave. Andy overhears this and storms off, with Touchstone in pursuit.

And still yet, in another part of the forest, Rosalind is livid that Orlando is late for their appointed meeting and Celia expresses that she does not think Orlando is truly in love. Suddenly, Papa and Mama Corin race on looking for Ganymede and Aliena so they can witness round 2 of Silvia pursuing Phoebe. They all hide as Phoebe and Silvia enter. Silvia is passionately expressing the agonizing nature of her love for Phoebe (“You Phoebe Me”) and Phoebe challenges her exaggerated declarations of love. Personally feeling the bitter rejection of love denied, Ganymede jumps out of her hiding spot to defend Silvia’s authentic love and chide Phoebe for her cruelty. Gobsmacked by Ganymede, Phoebe falls head over heels in love with ‘him.” Ganymede rejects her and storms off with Celia and the Corins ,but Phoebe comes up with a plan to woo him by sending a letter to him through Silvia. Silvia agrees. Alone, Silvia is filled with a moment of hard won joy, thrilled that Phoebe is talking to her and shouts to the world her love for this woman.

Jaques witnesses Ardenite HUNTERS almost kill a deer and rails at the injustices of man. Duke Senior, MISS AMIENS and a group of Ardenites overhear her and invite her to join them in celebrating the circle of life (“Oh Deer”). Immediately, an Ardenite Hootenanny breaks out with partner dancing and singing filling the space. Everyone is dancing with everyone. Gender does not define these couples, just joy and companionship. Think family weddings, quinceanera, line dancing. Andy is the life of the party, dancing with everyone. Touchstone is watching him and Andy grabs WILLIAM in an effort to make Touchstone jealous. They dance as Touchstone moves through the crowd trying to get near to Andy. As song and dance ends, Andy exits the hootenanny with William, much to the heartbreak of Touchstone.
Inspired by what she witnessed, Jaques tried to return to her manifesto/philosophy, but is interrupted by Ganymede/Rosalind who asks what she is writing. Thrilled that someone is showing interest, Jaques starts to share it, but is interrupted by Orlando. Ganymede is pissed and chides Orlando as a false lover (“When I’m Your Wife”) but it turns into a very vulnerable moment as the lines between disguise and truth blur for Rosalind. Confused, Orlando excuses himself as he is to dine with Duke Senior but swears he will not be late for their next meeting. Unconvinced, Rosalind collapse in her cousin’s arms finally admitting that she is deeply in love with Orlando.

Back in the court, Oliver is brought before Duke Frederick who interrogates him on the whereabouts of his brother, Orlando. Oliver confesses that he hates his brother and does not know where he has fled. Duke Frederick demands he find him or he will seize all his money and property.

Back in Arden, Silvia races after Ganymede/Rosalind and Aliena/Celia delivering a letter from Phoebe. Ganymede reads it sharing that it is filled with insults. She accuses Silvia of writing the letter. Silvia protests and Ganymede sends her off telling her to tell Phoebe to shift her love of Ganymede towards Silvia instead. Joyfully, Silvia exits as Oliver enters. He immediately locks eyes with Aliena/Celia. It is love at first sight. Oliver shares the story of how his brother Orlando was attacked while trying to save a man (“The Lion and The Snake”). Revealing a bloody handkerchief, he shows proof of why his brother is unable to meet with Ganymede. Rosalind faints into Oliver’s arms but is brought back to consciousness by Celia.

Meanwhile, Touchstone is still pursuing Andy as they argue over William. William enters and Touchstone interrogates his feelings towards Andy. When William easily expresses his love and desire to commit to Andy, Touchstone loses it and threatens William who runs away, freaked out. Finally, Touchstone allows his true feelings to come forward and he proposes to Andy in a huge romantic gesture (“My Groom”) complete with back up De Boys dancers. Andy enthusiastically accepts his proposal.

Orlando discusses with Oliver how it is possible to fall in love at first sight and then immediately plan to wed, when Ganymede enters. Nervous that Oliver might be on to her disguise because she fainted, Ganymede tells Orlando that he was pretending. Preoccupied with his disappointment in being able to actualize his love for Rosalind, Orlando tells Ganymede that he can no longer ‘play at’ wooing his love (“For Real”). As Ganymede is telling him that she can deliver Rosalind to him, Phoebe and Silvia enter. Phoebe is angry that Ganymede shared the contents of her letter with Silvia and asks her to tell ‘this youth what ‘tis to love’ (“Getting Married Tomorrow”). Ganymede stops the whirlpool of desperate lovers demanding resolution and declares that he will deliver up the rightful lover to each pairing tomorrow morning. Everyone dances off, leaving Rosalind alone on stage. She stays up all night reflecting and calling upon Arden for help and guidance (“Rosalind Be Merry (Reprise)”). Jaques interrupts her telling her its morning and the weddings are about to happen.

She runs off as Duke Senior and all the lovers enter. Rosalind emerges as herself (“For Real” – Reprise). Together, Orlando and Rosalind make a commitment to love one another exactly for who they are. Phoebe realizes she herself has been ‘phoebed’ and finally sees the true love that has been there all along in Silvia (“You Phoebe Me” – reprise). Duke Senior and Rosalind are reunited and as he begins to marry all the couples – Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Touchstone and Andy and Silvia and Phoebe, they are interrupted by Duke Frederick and his minions brandishing swords. Upon seeing both his daughter in her wedding dress and his brother, Duke Frederick’s heart softens as love transforms him and he is reunited with his family (“Under the Greenwood Tree” - reprise). Duke Frederick returns the crown to his brother Duke Senior and the entire community is healed by forgiveness and love. The couples are married and all are reunited with loved ones (“Still I Will Love”) as vows are exchanged by not just the couples but the entire community. The ceremony is followed by the greatest wedding reception of all time.

As everyone leaves to return to the court, Rosalind and Orlando remain dancing in each other’s arms. Jaques has been witness to this entire event and picks up her manifesto once again to try and complete it (“Epilogue:All The World’s A Stage”). As she writes, we witness the newlyweds age before us as Grandma Rosalind and Grandpa Orlando emerge and then disappear. Back where we started, Jaques is alone with her imagination and completes her manifesto as we see the next generation in LITTLE JAQUES who takes up the reins and will continue to think us into a brighter future.

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