All The World's, Like, You Know, A Stage

Like You Like It

Books and Lyrics by Sammy Buck
Music by Daniel S. Acquisto
Directed by Igor Goldin
The Gallery Players (
199 14th Street, Brooklyn
Equity Showcase (closed)
Review by Byrne Harrison

The Bard in a high school? The enchanted Forest of Arden paved over and turned into a shopping mall? As if.

And yet, those are just a couple of the many humorous conceits of Sammy Buck and Daniel S. Acquisto's Shakespeare-meets-John Hughes musical, Like You Like It. Using Shakespeare's As You Like It as a starting point, the duo has created a fun and winning musical comedy; one the Bard would have been proud of.

Told in flashback by rockers Jackie West (Jennifer Blood) and Eddie Van Beethoven (Lance Olds) and their band, the Seven Stages of Man, Like You Like It tells the story of the teens of Courtland High as they prepare for a Grand Opening dance at the Arden Mall. Rosalind Duke ( Alison Luff) is a plain Jane good girl who is secretly in love with high school heartthrob Orlando (Nathan Johnson). Unfortunately, Orlando is dating blonde cheerleader Audrey (Caitlin Kent). But could it be that Orlando is not happy? Goaded on by her cousin Celia (Hollis Scarborough), Rosalind decides to take a chance and, as her song says, "Be A Little Wild." When her first encounter goes disastrously wrong, thanks to the arrival of Audrey and Orlando's jealous older brother, Oliver (Clint Morris), a hall monitor at the high school, it looks like Rosalind and Celia won't be able to go to the dance. So they do what any teens would do, dress up (Rosalind as a guy, and Celia as Madonna), and go to the mall anyway with Celia's horndog suitor, Touchstone (Trey Compton). What follows next is the usual bunch of mistaken identities, love won and lost and won again, and a heavy dose of '80s music and choreography.

Daniel S. Acquisto showed a good ear for '80s music, with nods to various musicians from Madonna to Van Halen. He also knows how to use a synthesizer to really get that '80s sound. Sammy Buck's lyrics fit well with both the music, the period, and the story, many of them managing to move the story forward while still sounding like stand-alone pop songs. Among the better songs were the company numbers "Like You Like It" and "Gotta Get Out," both joyful dance numbers, the more subdued love song, "Be With Me," and the amusing "Phil's Realization" where Phil (Michael Lowney), a Courtland high student whose friend Sylvie (Brynn Curry) has an unrequited crush on him, realizes what his fascination with Rosalind's male alter ego really means. In truth, there really aren't any clunkers in this show, and it's highly likely the audience will leave the theatre humming at least one of the songs.

Acting was uniformly good, with particular praise to the charming Alison Luff and Trey Compton, whose Touchstone was brilliantly over-the-top. Jennifer Blood and Lance Olds were both excellent as the rocking narrators, and they had marvelous chemistry. Also worth mentioning was Hollis Scarborough; her scenes with Compton were an absolute riot.

Director Igor Goldin kept things moving at a fast clip, made the transitions from book to music seamless, and made full use of Carl Tallent's versatile set. Jeffrey Campos's musical direction was excellent, as was Keith Andrews's choreography, some of which was lovingly borrowed from the music videos of the day (there was a terrific tribute to Michael Jackson's Thriller in one of the songs). Hunter Kaczorowski's costumes are fantastic, especially his Touchstone costume and the Molly Ringwald and Madonna-inspired costumes for Celia. One of the best moments in the show revolves around Celia's "reveal" where she goes from being 'Madonna' back to Celia, with the help of some costume business. Like You Like It was a fun show and a great time. This was definitely another feather in the Gallery Players' cap.

(Like You Like It also featured Richard Connelly, Roy Flores, Andre Jordan, Jeff Barba, Lena Moy-Borgen, Elisabeth Ness, Rebecca Dealy, Carly Vernon, and the orchestra: Jeffrey Campos, Justin Hatchimonji, Paul Hemmings, Dennis Keefe, Casual-T.) Box Score:

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Sets: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2008 Byrne Harrison