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Outdoors Shakespeare gets a stay at Evergreen

When the financially stressed Baltimore Shakespeare Festival recently ceased operations, it meant the end for its summer tradition of doing Shakespeare outdoors in the meadow at Evergreen Museum and Library in north Baltimore.

Well, the tradition essentially continues, thanks to another Shakespeare-producing organization. The Frederick-based Maryland Shakespeare Festival has included Evergreen on its touring circuit this summer.

Its festive production of “As You Like It” occupies the same spot on the Evergreen lawn as the Baltimore company claimed for so many years.

Considering that this is the Shakespeare play that includes the famous “All the world’s a stage” speech, it’s a chance to enjoy a grassy setting backed by a minimal set evoking two proscenium arches that can be quickly transformed into tree cut-outs representing the Forest of Arden. And, of course, the soaring trees at Evergreen are a very convincing backdrop for a comedic story that moves from courtly life to adventures in the deep woods.

Although this play has a complicated plot involving exile-mandated separations, assumed identities and, ultimately, romantic resolutions for several couples, one steady presence throughout “As You Like It” is the outspoken young woman, Rosalind, who is among the most fully realized of the Bard’s female characters.

Teresa Spencer is lithe and lively as Rosalind; and Rosalind’s close friend, Celia, is boisterously embodied by Erin Branigan.

Among the male characters, the estranged brothers, Oliver (Cory Cunningham) and Orlando (Ian Sullivan), typify an extroverted production that freely moves across the lawn. It’s a fight- and flight-filled show that makes the most of the physical consequences of a story that relies on amorous complications that threaten to never quit.

The justifiably broad playing is well-handled by the cast working under director John V. Bellomo, but the physically oriented staging occasionally rushes through poetically impressive lines that are worth savoring a bit.

Like the lightning bugs flashing all around the audience gathered on the Evergreen lawn, this production moves fast and shines brightly.

Maryland Shakespeare Festival’s “As You Like It” continues July 6- 10 at Evergreen Museum and Library, at 4545 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. Gates open at 6 p.m. for picnics, pre-show entertainment starts at 7:20 p.m., and the play begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20, $15 for senior citizens and military, $10 for students. There’s also a $55 family package comprising four tickets. Call 301-668-4090 or go to www.mdshakes.org/summer-tour.EvergreenMeadow.

This touring production of “As You Like It” goes to Hyattsville on July  13, Upper Marlboro on July 14, Laurel on July 15, Temple Hills on July 16, Bowie on July 17, Cumberland on July 20, Gaithersburg on July 22 and 23, Frederick on July 29 and 30, and Denton on July 31..

Single Carrot adds to lineup

The current production at Baltimore’s Single Carrot Theatre, Andrew Irons’ “Linus and Alora,” is a suitable choice for this adventurous company in the city’s Station North arts district.

The title characters are anticipating the birth of a child, but the style of this play is hardly standard-issue realism. Indeed, there is an ongoing interplay between these two characters and a roster of stream of consciousness-dwelling fantasy figures.

The production itself is a movement theater-oriented fusion of drama, dance, song and video.

If you’re intrigued by this lively company, Single Carrot has announced its new season, starting in September: Young Jean Lee’s “Church,” about four ministers; Joshua Conkel’s “MilkMilkLemonade,” about an adolescent living in Malltown, USA; Charles Mee’s “Hotel Cassiopeia,” about the 20th-century American artist Joseph Cornell; and a yet to be titled ensemble piece created by the Single Carrot company.

The current production of “Linus and Alora” runs only through July 10 at Single Carrot Theatre, at 120 W. North Avenue in Baltimore. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10-$20. Call 443-844-9253 or go to www.singlecarrot.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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