Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival opens with ‘As You Like It’

William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” comes to Lake Tahoe Friday with the opening of the 42nd Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.

“On the surface, this is a tale of exile and romance. The plot is simple: a young gentleman and two young noblewomen are driven from their homes,” according to a press release for the festival. “They flee into the forest where the rightful Duke has been exiled. But instead of an empty wilderness, they encounter shepherds, wandering nobles, philosophers, hermits, deer and lions — a population Shakespeare borrows from the tales of Robin Hood, English pastorals and classical poetry. This is the fabled Forest of Arden.”

Like last year’s performance of a “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which featured 1960s themes and music from the Beatles, this year’s stage production comes with a twist.

“We’ve set it in New England during the second Industrial Revolution, not long after the start of the 20th century,” said Director Edward Morgan in a director’s note. “We’ve placed Arden in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. The villains are greedy Industrialists. The exiled Duke is a follower of Emerson, a would-be Thoreau. Rosalind and Orlando are the new Americans. Fiercely democratic, they succeed by merit — not privilege — as they forge a new worldview and sense of equality. Indeed, in this context, the delightful, ever-resourceful Rosalind becomes a kind of metaphor for American womanhood, advancing from 19th century servitude through Gibson Girl glamor to the courage of the Suffragette, and beyond. And finally, since the true pulse of an era resounds in its music, we’ve replaced Shakespeare’s songs with tunes that echo these themes through Yankee syncopation.”

The festival takes place at Sand Harbor State Park and features Lake Tahoe as a backdrop. “As You Like It” opens Friday and is performed Tuesdays through Sundays until Aug. 24.

“Featuring gorgeous costumes, stunning sets and one of the most talented professional acting companies in the West, our production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It is sure to delight the entire family,” Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee, said in the release. “Comic twists and turns abound in the fertile Forest of Arden, where a disguised Rosalind seeks refuge after being wrongfully banished by her uncle. Her unfortunate exile is transformed into a charming adventure when she encounters some of Shakespeare’s most beloved characters — colorful fools, witty rustics, and the handsome, lovesick Orlando. A clandestine, gender-bending courtship ensues, changing the lost into unexpected lovers, in this timeless and transcendent tale.”

The festival also features Monday night showcases, which highlight a variety of musical and visual performances. The first Monday night performance “Broadway on the Beach: Bravo Broaway” is sold out.

The festival is complimented by al fresco dining at Shakespeare’s Kitchen. Patrons may choose to bring their own food or drink for picnicking.

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