CSUEB Boldy Performs Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

Chelsea Mudlo, The Pioneer

Natalia Aldana
Editor-in-Chief

Actors Christopher Loverro and Tony Aldo engaging
during a tense and energetic scene Saturday
for CSUEB’s “As You Like It.”

CSU East Bay Department of Theatre and Dance presented one of William Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedies, “As You Like It” this weekend, offering audiences an opportunity to experience classical theatre in Hayward.

Directed by CSUEB Alumna Dawn Monique Williams, the CSUEB rendition was performed to a small crowd of students Friday and Saturday. CSUEB President Leroy Morishita attended the university play Saturday night.

While Shakespeare is generally a complex genre for people to understand, furthermore enjoy, this perforamnce did a fairly good job of maintaining authenticity while meshing modern music to help relate the emotions behind the story. Yet, like in many CSUEB plays, this performance had more individual successes rather than the performance as a whole.

This most famous play, which reminds us that “all the world’s a stage, and all its men and women are merely players,” provided a great platform for fresh and exciting individual performers to display their emerging talents.

“As You Like It” expresses how love can be manifested in various forms, especially the strength and vigor of experiencing love at first sight. Betrayal, lust, jealousy, friendship and youth are highlighted through the very human interactions between the characters. Each actor’s goal was to captivate the audience with their ability to express love at its fondest and deepest, and some succeeded more than others.

Many scenes during the play, such as this one shown
above, include some of Shakespeare’s great philosophy
and comedy.

From wrestling scenes to a Spanish-speaking minstrel, cross-dressing to romantic physicality, “As You Like It” has always proven to be a favorite amongst many theatregoers and Williams’ representation offered enough savory points to give attendees a chance to believe in the quality of art at CSUEB.

Christopher Loverro gave the strongest performance as Orlando de Bois, youngest son to Sir Rowland and love interest to the famous Rosalind. He gave the most honest and spirited performance as a man that exhibited varying qualities audiences love to see in a male protagonist: emotion, bravado, compassion and intelligence. Loverro, an Iraq war veteran, former Berkeley police officer and Oakland native was passionate, charming and engaging throughout the show and a pleasure to see.

Playing the part of Celia, Duke Frederick’s daughter and Rosalind’s cousin was Elena Mae Spittler, a petite young woman who gave a monumental performance. As the sweet natured and loyal cousin to the protagonist, Spittler, a senior at CSUEB, gave the show a delightful energy as she was likeable and constantly smile inducing. Her zest and enthusiasm was quite intoxicating, and as such invigorated an often-time dull play.

The part of Rosalind was played by Cheryle Honerlah, who has performed in previous CSUEB plays such as “Savage/Love,” “Three Sisters,” and “The Tempest,” was clearly literate in her verses yet did not measure up to the same passion seen in actors such as Loverro and Spittler. Though she looked the part of who is considered Shakespeare’s favorite character, Honerlah’s performance unfortunately came off flat.

Ulises Toledo was a surprise, as his portrayal of Oliver de Bois, brother to Orlando and courtier of Celia was tasteful though at times verbally cryptic. Lacking a bit of enunciation and articulation in his acting, Toledo still maintained a quiet appeal and magnetism throughout the show, turning from rivaling brother to picturesque romantic.

At intermittent points during the show, the scenes would shift from acting to two dancers moving to modern music. The dancing was the most dreadful part of the show, as dancers Michelle Kui and Yumi Nomura never danced in unison and Kui trailed behind Nomura’s artistry and skill. Though not clear if the choreography was meant to be repetitive, the dancing could have been a great addition to the show had there been more creativity and efficient execution in the segments.

Other standout performances were from Daniel Banatao as the hopeful romantic Sylvius, Kenton Banks as a formidable Charles the Wrestler and CSU Hayward 1963 alumnus Mary Ann Mackey who played the part of melancholic Jacques. Mackey was honored with versing the famed lines, relating that men and women “have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” Mackey, a veteran of local and CSUEB theatre performed with grace and great credence, an inspiration to her younger counterparts.

“As You Like It” was a competent and tolerable show, as the theme of the play, if anything, gave CSUEB students and community members an opportunity to remember the comedy that is life, and the journey that is love, all in traditional fearless CSUEB fashion.

Remaining performances for “As You Like It” will be August 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. and August 19 at 2 p.m. in CSUEB’s Studio Theatre.