Melbourne Theatre Company returns to the stage with Shakespeare’s As You Like It

AAR-MTC-As-You-Like-It-featureFollowing their smash-hit collaboration on Twelfth Night, director Simon Phillips and musicians Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall reunite for another spectacular slice of Shakespeare; the big-hearted comedy As You Like It, opening on Thursday 18 November at the Southbank Theatre.

Promising to be a beautifully refreshed version of Shakespeare’s classic, As You Like It will be the unmissable theatrical event to farewell 2021. As You Like It will also mark MTC’s return to stage after Victoria’s latest lockdown and the cancellation of three productions.

“As You Like It has now been three years in the making and at last, this joyous celebration of love and life can hit the boards,” said Simon Phillips. “It seems the perfect play to celebrate our new found freedom; a song-soaked study of how enforced isolation helps us to appreciate the things that really matter in life.”

‘The relief of being able to actually rehearse a new show was ridiculous. Artists across the country have been in such despair as the arts community and their huge audience have been in limbo for nearly two years.”

“It was almost surreal to suddenly be allowed to return to something akin to what we’re used to – albeit masked and distanced – we felt giddy and euphoric, and we expect audiences to feel the same. We’ll never take it for granted again!” said Phillips.

Christie Whelan Browne (Twelfth Night) takes on the role of Rosalind alongside James Mackay (Dynasty) as Orlando. Completing the cast of this must-see production are Natalie Abbott (Muriel’s Wedding the Musical), Laurence Boxhall (Shakespeare in Love), Georgia Flood (Wentworth), Daniel Frederiksen (Shakespeare in Love), Jack Green (Neighbours), Xani Kolac (What Rhymes with Cars and Girls), Richard Piper (Twelfth Night), Chris Ryan (Shakespeare in Love), Richard Sergeant (Daddy), Tim Walter (A Flea in Her Ear), and Shivantha Wijesinha (The Letters).

Warm-hearted and romantic, As You Like It follows the irrepressible Rosalind, who is banished from court with her cousin Celia. But before they can escape into exile, Rosalind catches the eye of love-struck Orlando.

What ensues is a riotous tangle of matched and mismatched lovers, mistaken identities, melodic songs and laughs aplenty. Will love conquer all, or is it merely a madness?

With more twists than a country lane, As You Like It is a topsy-turvy celebration of love in all its forms, from a director who has made an art of delighting audiences with Shakespearean romance.

“I couldn’t think of a more uplifting production to mark our return to the stage after yet another challenging year,” said MTC Co-CEO Virginia Lovett.

“There is an immense feeling of excitement to be back doing what we do best – rehearsing and staging exceptional theatre productions – and on the cusp of welcoming audiences back to the theatre with all our COVID-safety measures in place.

“As the State theatre company of Victoria, we are thrilled to be carrying out our important role in Melbourne’s recovery and once again providing employment for the many hundreds of people involved in making MTC productions possible.”

In accordance with government regulations, proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or valid medical exemption will be required for anyone over the age of 16 to attend an MTC production. All staff at MTC venues will likewise be fully vaccinated.

Director: Simon Phillips | Featuring: Natalie Abbott, Laurence Boxhall, Georgia Flood, Daniel Frederiksen, Jack Green, Xani Kolac, James Mackay, Richard Piper, Chris Ryan, Richard Sergeant, Tim Walter, Christie Whelan Browne, Shivantha Wijesinha | Set & Costume Designer: Alicia Clements | Lighting Designer: Nick Schlieper |Composers: Kate Miller-Heidke & Keir Nuttall | Musical Director & Additional Composition: Ian McDonald | Associate Costume Designer: John Van Gastel | Associate Lighting Designer: Tom Willis | Assistant Director: Tim Paige | Fight Choreographer: Lyndall Grant | Choreographer: Andrew Hallsworth

As You Like It
Southbank Theatre – The Sumner, Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Season: 18 November – 18 December 2021 (preview: 13 – 17 November)
Information and Bookings: (tickets on sale: 9 November)

Image: Illustration by Mark Conlan