AA thespians overcome many hurdles to produce As You Like It

despite the difficulties, our reviewer liked it!


On Thursday, April 22nd, I watched the Albuquerque Academy production of As You Like It, the spring musical produced amidst a global pandemic. The musical, by authors names here and based on the Shakespeare play premiered on a streaming service called ShowTix4U and was directed by Performing Arts faculty member Laurie Thomas. There were over 20 actors and over 12 crew members. The musical had to be filmed virtually, which introduced a handful of technical issues and complications, but this didn’t stop the actors and crew from telling a touching story and having some fun with it.
As You Like It presented a pleasurable storyline about “faithful friends, feuding families and lovers in disguise.” As Duke senior (Liam Lambie ‘21), his daughter Rosalind (Marguerite Boone ‘21), his niece Celia (Ainara Vecchia ‘24), and Orlando (Ramses Tanedo ‘21) are forced to flee their homes and travel to the forest of Arden, where they learn about love and acceptance. In this musical, there were some terrific singers with some great voices, as well as many astonishing actors, who were willing to be flexible. Many actors even had multiple roles. Head of School, Ms. Julianne Puente also had a small role as one of the royal minions.
The premise of the musical starts with Oliver (Ramses Tanedo ‘21) who was to take good care of his brother Orlando (Ramses Tanedo ‘21), but didn’t. Bronco’s agent (Gianna Mathews ‘23), warns him that Orlando plans to fight in the wrestling match so Oliver directs to have Bronco (Liam Lambie ‘21) fight. Meanwhile, the Duke Fredrick (Liam Lambie ‘21) has usurped his brother Duke Senior (Liam Lambie ‘21), who flees to the forest of Arden. Duke Fredrick allows Duke senior’s daughter, Rosalind, to stay there. At the wrestling match, besides Orlando’s defeat, Rosalind and him fall in love. After returning home, after receiving a warning, Orlando flees to the forest of Arden with Adam (Kyo Torres-Chen ‘24). Suddenly, Duke Fredrick had a change of heart about Rosalind, who leaves with Celia and the court jester, Touchstone (Caroline Lutz ‘23), to the forest of Arden. Rosalind and Celia disguise themselves for safety. Duke Fredrick sends Oliver to lead a manhunt. Eventually, Rosalind runs into Orlando, disguised as a boy and asks him to pretend that “he” is Rosalind, which is really her. Celia, dressed still as a girl, falls in love with Oliver one day, and they agree to get married. As Orlando grows desperate, Rosalind tells Orlando that she is his love and they decide to get married. The day of the wedding arrives and the couples, including more met in the play, get married. They begin to celebrate but not for long before Duke Fredrick crashes the party, but changes his ways, and they continue celebrating.
The musical happened virtually because audiences were not allowed to view the production in person. Another complication was that actors could not come within six feet of each other, so they had to be filmed individually. They formed a designated room for filming, and online students were given green screens. To film this musical they also used tripods, lights, wireless earbuds, and cellphones. Another complication that occurred with online students was a variety of different phones caused many different cameras and microphones used to record.
Without being all together, sets became problematic, and the crew had to use virtual backgrounds. Former Science Department faculty member Rhonda Spidell shared remarkable photos of New Mexico that were used as virtual backgrounds. Needless to say, there were great and realistic virtual backgrounds. There was one moment to help show the transition from night to day, where the background changed from dark to light. With the virtual background though some body parts of people glitched in and out of the scene, resulting in at times hair or details of a person blending in with the background.
Crew members received over 500 video files to edit. An alumni named Mark Cleveland was the lead editor in videos. Edits were hard work but they also accomplished things that would’ve otherwise not been possible, making the musical more funny and enjoyable. In one scene where there was a wrestling match, instead of struggling to have the two actors fight, the crew edited in a humorous cartoon of two people fighting. The crew also had fun with animals by making props and featuring animal noises in the forest. There was one other moment that featured a Taylor Swift song reference stating “I knew you were trouble” in one of the lines while singing the same tune Taylor Swift did.
As You Like It did great with following COVID guidelines while creating an entertaining story. There were some amazing singers and fabulous actors. There were some realistic and fitting virtual background picks. There were some humorous edits, lines, and props that make this musical enjoyable to watch. A lot of work was put into the musical and it shows the result.