What secret is being shared in “As You Like It”?
Contributed | El Defensor Chieftain

Theater lovers will find romance, humor, singing, and entertaining dialogue in an upcoming performance of Socorro Community Theater’s “As You Like It” at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center stage. The New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series (NMTPAS) season kicks off with the classic Shakespearean musical comedy featuring themes of love, envy, and forgiveness, running Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023.

“As You Like It,” one of William Shakespeare’s best-known comedies, is famous for its timeless line: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Director Christie Smith calls the play “Shakespeare’s most delightful comedy.” The plot features a noble young woman who dons men’s apparel and woos her beloved as a man in the mythical Forest of Arden — “simply the best place to live, anywhere in Shakespeare,” Director Smith said. The play includes an evil usurping duke, a good banished duke, cynical courtiers, hapless and happy shepherds and shepherdesses, and four sets of lovers frolicking in the transformational woods.

Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s matinee is at 2 p.m., with performances running about two hours. Tickets for “As You Like It” are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors age 65 and older, $8 for youth under age 18, and free of charge for NMT students who show a Tech ID. On Friday the show will be preceded by an optional special event, Ye Olde Partye Medieval cosplay dinner. Dinner participants will enjoy a hearty medieval meal and drink specials (nonalcoholic drinks are available as well) from 6 to 7:15 p.m., with Renaissance-themed costumes encouraged. Prices for this special pre-show dinner are $15 (NMT Students) and $25 (general public) and tickets are available online at: nmt.edu/pas.

Saturday’s performance will be preceded by an art opening-reception at the second-floor Macey Center Art Gallery. 4 Common Corners, an invitational group of fiber artists drawn together by their immersion in the unique beauty of the Four Corners region of the southwest United States, will display artworks through Sept. 29 featuring the themes of “Heads or Tails,” “Transparency,” and “Cryptography.”

NMTPAS Director Ronna Kalish is excited for audiences to see “As You Like It” on the Macey Center stage in a novel format that brings the show and audience closer together.

“This is the second year of collaboration between the New Mexico Tech Performing Arts Series and Socorro Community Theater that we hope will only grow,” she said. “It is our second year of kicking off the season with a Shakespearean play, and we are turning the stage into an intimate, almost black box venue. We set seating up onstage, have the actors’ backs to the big theater, facing onto the stage.”

Director Smith said that the process of preparing for the performances has been “surprisingly and wonderfully collaborative.”

“I have incorporated many suggestions from actors over the weeks to improve both the energy projected on stage and the emotional power of the clever Shakespearean words,” Director Smith said. “They research the play and their roles, are constructing costumes, and are volunteering for set-painting on the weekends. We have had in-person and Zoom rehearsals for the play since early June, and in-person meetings since mid-August when Tech resumed.”

Director Smith said the cast is a mixture of NMT students and faculty, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) professionals, and community members. Their ages range from 11 to 72, with both seasoned actors who have had starring roles in Socorro and elsewhere, as well as first-time actors debuting on stage with this play.

The play features Minnie Yuan Mao as Rosalind, Danny Tallon as Orlando, Jessica Bice as Celia, and Jay Blanchard as Touchstone. In addition to Director Smith, the crew includes Assistant Director Dr. Eileen Comstock, costumes by Comstock and Jane Beckstead, choreography by Diana Kent-Hoke, sets by Smith and the entire crew, and lighting by Jenny Cyphers of the Macey Center staff.

Director Smith also said choreographer Diana Kent-Hoke, who created movement magic for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “A Christmas Carol” last year in Socorro, is staging medieval and Renaissance dances for the play, working with mostly novice dancers to impressive effect.

Director Smith said audiences will be delighted with the eight-person musical ensemble Dr. Comstock organized. The group will perform on stage and in Renaissance costume.

“Shakespeare has five songs in the play, and directors may choose whatever music they wish,” Director Smith said. “Dr. Comstock has indefatigably researched period music and rearranged tunes to fit our voices and instrumentation. We have a real lute for the orchestra!”

NMT PAS season tickets are now available, and subscribers save 25% off tickets for the entire year. A full schedule of PAS events and ticket information is available online at: nmt.edu/pas.

NM Tech Performing Arts Series