Though widely considered to be part of Shakespeare's comic canon, As You Like It also takes a walk on the dark side. It is a study in contrasts, a pastoral comedy and romance with a satirical bite. Director Lynn Nichols intends to explore all those angles and more in the CU Department of Theatre and Dance's production of the classic, which will play Feb. 15-24 in the University Theatre.
"I'm interested in the darker aspects crashing up against the comic aspects," says Nichols, directing his fifth Shakespeare work at CU. He also has directed two productions for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
The play moves between the vengeful world of the court and the pastoral rejuvenation of the forest of Arden. Rosalind, daughter of a disgraced duke - who has the most lines of any female character in the canon - is banished. She assumes the identity of a boy named Ganymede and travels with her cousin and the jester Touchstone to the forest, where love, laughter and learning coincide.
"We laugh at them while they try to work out love and life for themselves," Nichols says. "They take what they learn in the forest back to the court and become better owners of society."
The production will feature a full score by well-known Los Angeles-based composer Karl Lundeberg, who has written music for productions at the Kennedy Center, the Chicago Shakespeare Company and elsewhere. The music will be adapted from a score he wrote for a 2001 production of As You Like It at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.
"We have three CDs worth of music specifically written for this play," Nichols says. "It's exciting that we have permission to use his music again."
The production will merge a traditional Elizabethan approach with modern acting techniques.
"We are doing a period Shakespeare that's not a museum approach," says the director.
As You Like It, directed by Lynn Nichols, runs at the University Theatre, University of Colorado Boulder, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-16, Feb. 20-23; 2 p.m. Feb. 17 and 24. Tickets: $15; discounts available for students and seniors. Make reservations at www.cutheatre.org or call 303-492-8181.