Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents AS YOU LIKE IT Review — Shakespeare Meets the Beatles

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Chicago Shakespeare Theater AS YOU LIKE IT
The company of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of As You Like It.

Audience members walking into Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater for As You Like It are immediately met with a completely immersive experience. The stage has transformed into a wrestling ring, and Charles the Champion Wrestler (Austin Eckert) knows how to win over the crowd. Colorful lights flash, and music from the 60s booms through the theater. Touchstone (Kayvon Khoshkam) is the MC, and if the audience is not excited enough, he will be sure to rectify that situation. Wrestlers approach to challenge Charles in the ring, but it’s easy to see that no one stands a chance. He even takes moments in between opponents to flirt with the crowd, ensuring they know whose side they are on. You may even find yourself shouting words of encouragement from your seats as the spectacle unfolds.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater AS YOU LIKE IT
Rosalind (Lakeisha Renee) find that love is all she needs.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater Presents As You Like It

William Shakespeare’s comedy follows Rosalind (Lakeisha Renee), a woman who runs to take refuge in the forest with her cousin, Celia (Melanie Brezill). Her love Orlando (Liam Quealy) also escapes to the forest , But there is a twist. Rosalind is now disguised as a man, and takes it upon herself to teach Orlando how to woo the woman of his dreams – who happens to be her. Those familiar with Shakespearean comedies will recognize the many twists and turns that come about through misunderstandings, deception, and young lovers who simply want to find their happy ending.

There is even more of a twist with this production.  This adaptation is a musical, featuring famous hit songs from the Beatles including She Loves You, Let it Be, All You Need is Love, and so much more. The romantic comedy is thrust into the 60s, and if you are a Beatles fan, you may even find yourself bopping along in your seat and wanting to sing along.

Clever Musical Adaptation

You may be wondering how the Beatles integrates into Shakespeare’s text.  It’s absolutely seamless in this reviewer’s opinon.  Imagine this…

Chicago Shakespeare Theater AS YOU LIKE IT
The Forest Lords of Arden (left to right: Austin Eckert, Jeff Kurysz, Adam Wesley Brown, Michael Daniel Dashefsky, Kurt Schweitz) jam to the hit song of The Beatles.

When Orlando makes his way into the forest, he takes it upon himself to express his love through bad poetry that he posts on the trees. He is overcome with emotion, and suddenly bursts into the Beatle’s hit Do You Want to Know a Secret? Quealy’s is no stranger to rock scores, and as he sings he dances around the stage, jumping on trees, and finding moments of the score to share with specific audience members throughout the space. Suddenly everyone is in on the secret, which adds to the experience of seeing how characters interact with the poetry in the scenes that follow. The music helps create a new access point, perhaps especially helpful to those who struggle with Shakespearean language otherwise, is this writer’s thought.

Building Community

It should be no surprise that a Shakespeare comedy ends with a flurry of weddings in which the lovers tie up their loose ends. Director Daryl Cloran’s adaptation highlights this joyful moment with the Beatles classic, All You Need is Love. At first, only the performers are singing, and we rejoice in feelings of  closure and love as we finally watch these couples find their way to each other after so many mishaps throughout the story. Soon, when the song picks up, the performers invite the audience to clap and sing along, which we were so primed to do.

After a year and a half of virtual theater, this writer found herself tearing up at the community forming to celebrate this live performance. Judging by the audience response, it’s easy to see that this writer was not the only one swept up in the story and experience.

Stellar performances and a standout score make As You Like It a performance you do not want to miss.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater AS YOU LIKE IT
Orlando (Liam Quealy) and Rosalind (Lakeisha Renee) lock eyes from across the ring, observed by Touchstone (Kayvon Khoshkam), LeBeau (Deborah Hay), and Charles (Austin Eckert).
Chicago Shakespeare Theater AS YOU LIKE IT
Jaques (Deborah Hay) contemplates the nature of life.


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Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.


Running through December 5, 2021

Wednesdays at 1:00pm and 7:30pm
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 3:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays at 2:00pm


Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611



For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s website.

Photos by Liz Lauren


Melanie Brezill (Celia, through November 14), Ayanna Bria Bakari (Celia, beginning November 16), Adam Wesley Brown (Forest Lord/Hymen/Danny “The Boy” O’Leary), Tony Carter(Oliver), Michael Daniel Dashefsky (Silvius/Forest Lord/Assassin), Austin Eckert (Charles/Amiens), Lachrisa Grandberry (Audrey/Mother Russia), Kevin Gudahl (Duke Frederick/Duke Senior), Deborah Hay (Jaques/LeBeau), Heidi Kettenring (Phoebe/Eleanor Rigby), Kayvon Khoshkam (Touchstone), Kieran McCabe (Forest Lord/William/Jacques de Boys), Steven Pringle (Adam/Martext), Liam Quealy (Orlando), Lakeisha Renee(Rosalind), Kurt Schweitz (Forest Lord/Assassin), Nancy Voigts (Corin/Duke Frederick’s Assistant). Understudies include Bridget Adams-King, David Corlew, Jodi Gage, Conor Jordan, Jeff Kurysz, and Jeff Parker


This adaptation of As You Like It is conceived by Daryl Cloran and the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.Joining Cloran on the creative team is Choreographer and Fight Choreographer Jonathan Hawley Purvis, and Music Supervisor Ben Elliot. Bringing the free-spirited Forest of Arden to life onstage are Scenic Designer Pam Johnson, Costume Designer Carmen Alatorre, Lighting Designer Gerald King, Sound Designers Owen Hutchinson and Peter McBoyle, and Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie. Rounding out the creative team are Verse Coach Larry Yando, Assistant Director Clare Brennan, Assistant Music Supervisor Michael Daniel Dashefsky, Music Consultant Michael Mahler, Intimacy Choreographer Sarah Scanlon, Creative Consultant Rick Boynton, and Casting Director Bob Mason. Dawn Fenton is the Production Stage Manager, with Assistant Stage Managers Katrina Herrmann (through October 14) and Kate Ocker (beginning November 2).

Musical numbers from The Beatles songbook featured in the production include (in show order):

  1. “Money (That’s What I Want)”
  2. “We Can Work It Out”
  3. “She Loves You”
  4. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
  5. “Help!”
  6. “I Saw Her Standing There”
  7. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
  8. “I Am the Walrus”
  9. “The Fool on the Hill”
  10. “Let It Be”
  11. “Do You Want to Know a Secret”
  12. “Eight Days a Week”
  13. "And I Love Her"
  14. “When I’m Sixty-Four”
  15. “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”
  16. “Love Me Do”
  17. “Something”
  18. “Can’t Buy Me Love”
  19. “Got to Get You into My Life”
  20. “Helter Skelter”
  21. “Good Day Sunshine”
  22. “Here Comes the Sun”
  23. “Across the Universe”
  24. “All You Need Is Love”
Lauren Katz

About the Author: Lauren Katz

Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.

Click here to read more Picture this Post stories by Lauren Katz.

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