After three months spent with Larry Herzel of HSE Architects and Massey Construction, Reduxion Theatre opens the doors of its new home, The Broadway Theater, with its Valentine’s Day production of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy As You Like It.
Reduxion has become known for adding a signature twist when adapting classic plays. As You Like It is no exception, as it is time-warped into 1968 and the locale, Arden, England, is changed to Rishikesh, India.
“While the play is first and foremost a love story, the pilgrimage, themes of discovery and pastoral location evoked for me the famous 20th-century pilgrimage of many Westerners to India, especially The Beatles’ famous trip to India in 1968,” director Erin Woods said.
As You Like It follows the adventures of heroine Rosalind, who disguises herself as a man to flee persecution in her uncle’s court.
With her cousin, Celia, she journeys to the rustic Forest of Arden, where they find safety and, eventually, love.
Woods worked closely with Indian musician Cartic Vengkatraman to create a production that marries the flavor of 1960s British Invasion tunes with traditional Indian music.
“Setting the play in 1968 Europe and India, with recognizable fashion and music, delightfully communicates to a contemporary audience Shakespeare’s themes of pilgrimage, gender and love with a real sense of fun,” Woods said.
The cast of thirteen multi-talented actor-singer-musicians includes Lindsay Pittman in the gender-bending lead role of Rosalind.
“Pittman is very much a Gamine type: elfish, slender, boyish but beautiful, with gorgeous big eyes; all one would want in a Rosalind,” Woods said.
RTC company member Rachael Barry plays Rosalind’s cousin, Celia.
“Shakespeare’s Celia is loyal, kind, sweet and a little mischievous,” Woods said. “Barry brings a sensitivity and a sexiness to the role, which makes Celia all the more exciting.”
OU drama student Kyle Whalen becomes Orlando, Rosalind’s love interest and a poetry-writing, athletic champion.
“Reduxion stays true to the language, our foremost aim, but we always strive to find new ways to engage and surprise audiences,” Woods said, adding that As You Like It is a perfect entry point for people who have never seen Shakespeare and are skeptical about whether they’d like it.
There will be a discounted preview performance Thursday, followed on Friday by an opening night performance and afterparty.
The new Reduxion venue in the heart of Automobile Alley boasts higher ceilings, better lighting, more seating, a bar and box office at 914 N. Broadway Ave.