What would summer be without some Shakespeare in the park, and in Culver City in August that means the incomparable Actors’ Gang staging their new family-friendly show, As BOO Like It. After a two-year pandemic hiatus, and celebrating its 15th production, the Gang has done it again, giving us a fun and funny show that has something for everyone, both young and old.
Obviously using the Shakespeare comedy As You Like It as its jumping off point, this year we are treated to a visit to Culvervaniya, where Angel/Duchess Senor (Jolene Hjerleid) is exiled from her haunted house by her brother Devil/Duke Frederick (Pierre Adeli). He allows her daughter, Witch/Rosalind (Marianna Da Silva) to stay because of her close relationship with her cousin Unicorn/Celia (Ana Ming Bostwick-Singer). At the same time, Vampire/Orlando (Luis Quintana) is on the outs with his brother Frankenstein./Oliver (Adam J. Jefferis – also doing triple duty as director and set designer as well), especially after Orlando beats the Duke’s Zombie/Charles (teen performer Matisse Anderson) in a thumb war, and he and Rosalind fall in love with each other at first sight. When the Duke banishes Rosalind in anger, she and Celia find refuge in the cemetery disguised as a wizard and a horse, Rosalind attracts the attention of a wizard-obsessed Mummy/Phoebe (Kaili Hollister) and the Ghost/Silvius (Pedro Shanahan) who is in love with her. As with Shakespeare, chaos and love abound with the help of Werewolf/Audrey (Kayla Blake), Dragon/Touchstone (Lynde Houck), and Fairy/Adam (teen performer Amma Stanton). And the whole thing is narrated by Skeleton/Jaques (Guebri Vanover). Everyone in the cast is fantastic!
The Gang has a way of weaving Shakespearean dialogue with pop culture references and sprinkling in a number of dance sequences to current music (there are especially a few references to Stranger Things that work very well). Kids will love the silliness and the call for help to resolve the problem at the end, and adults will chuckle at the inside jokes and clever advertisements for local businesses as well as the company’s 40th anniversary carnival in September. The show is a quick 45 minutes, which is especially appreciated in the August heat! This year, canopies have been provided for much of the seating area, where the audience can bring blankets or low chairs to sit on, as well as some benches in the back. And who can resist the popsicles at the end.
Kudos should also be given to Rynn Vogel, who adapted/wrote the piece as well as designed the fabulously fun costumers., director/set designer Jefferis, and choreographer Kayla Blake for ably adding to the mayhem.
As BOO Like It, Saturdays and Sundays @ 11 through August 28 at Media Park. Free, although pre-registration is encouraged at www.theactorsgang.com