The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

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The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Review: NMSU’s production of Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ 

David Castañeda
NMSU’s theater department performed Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” in the ASNMSU Center for the Arts. Nov. 10, 2023.

New Mexico State University’s Department of Theatre Arts and the American Southwest Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” was just as I liked it; interactive, comical and exceptionally heart-warming.  

Both NMSU and community actors performed the play from Nov. 3 through Nov. 12 at the Associated Students of NMSU Center for the Arts. Larissa Lury, associate professor in NMSU’s Department of Theatre Arts and director of the play, designed a classic yet unique production, including a musical adaptation. 

Shakespeare’s timeless story, which was published in 1623, has one overall message — love. The prominent role of gender-swapping and escaping to the forest of Arden sets the characters on a path of self-discovery and finding what love truly means to them. NMSU’s charming cast brought the story to life once again. 

Eliza Phillips absorbed the character of Rosalind by displaying the emotions of someone who finds love at first sight when she meets Orlando, the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Bois. Orlando, played by Elia Vasquez, reciprocates the connection through Vasquez’s riveting performance.  

Rosalind and her cousin, Celia, played by Athena McPeake, run off together to the forest of Arden after Celia’s father, Duke Fredrick, deems Rosalind a traitor and banishes her from the kingdom. Rosalind disguises herself as a man named “Ganymede,” and Celia as a shepherdess named “Aliena.”  

The cast of “As You Like It” opened their performance with a musical number. Nov. 10, 2023. (David Castañeda)

Phillips and McPeake’s approach to their characters’ resilient and witty personalities took the audience on a humorous journey to Arden — especially in their new identities when Orlando meets Rosalind as Ganymede, who pretends to be Rosalind to help Orlando pursue Rosalind until he develops feelings for Ganymede.  

These lead characters paved the show’s entertainment through Phillips’ showcase of masculine energy filled with giddy emotions towards Orlando and how Vasquez perfectly masked Orlando’s confusion towards the feelings developed for both characters, unaware of Ganymede’s identity which enhanced the dramatic irony.  

On this adventure, a handful of characters are introduced, such as Duke Senior, who is the opposite of his cruel brother, Duke Fredrick, whose characters are both diversely played by Jeff Peckham. Another character is melancholic Jacques, played by Darcy Harman, who flawlessly executed Jacques’ famous monologue; “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts,” — a perfect description of this multi-role presentation.  

Adding to the list of appealing features, the actors’ musical talent made the production more captivating. Ben Ramsey played guitar, Greta Greenblatt played bass and Vance Cook played ukulele. Even Vasquez joined and played violin while Phillips played ukulele.  

The way the cast used the theater aisles as a part of their stage was a great way to immerse themselves in the audience. Ramsey’s distraction with his guitar and how he persuaded the audience to sing along while crew members adjusted stage props for a new scene was another delightful interactive addition. 

Actor Benjamin Ramsey teaches the auidence a song. Nov. 10, 2023. (David Castañeda)

Towards the end, the stage flooded with a lively atmosphere when all the characters came together to create a sense of community, illustrating how the forest of Arden is a place where social norms of gender boundaries can be forgotten, and happiness is prioritized. This was especially shown as Phillips enacted an empowering moment when Rosalind was no longer in disguise and wearing a skirt. After she realizes she can wear the attire of her wishes — we know Orlando won’t mind — she ditches the skirt for the vest and pants she wore as Ganymede, no longer impersonating.  

The props, musical instruments, singing, costumes and how each cast member embodied their roles showed the effort that went into this seamless ensemble.  

Visit NMSU’s Department of Theatre Arts website to learn more about the department and future shows. 

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About the Contributors
Elizabeth McCall
Elizabeth McCall, Staff Writer
Elizabeth McCall is entering her first year with The Round Up as a Staff Writer. She is a senior at NMSU majoring in Journalism & Media Studies with a minor in communications. She was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but grew up in Edgewood, New Mexico. Elizabeth discovered her love for writing in middle school, when her love for reading evolved. She became interested in journalism in high school, and since then it has become a passion. She spends most of her time reading and writing, but also loves music, playing with her dog, hiking, and spending time with her husband, family and friends. Elizabeth hopes to make a positive impact at The Round Up and grow as a writer and journalist.
David Castañeda
David Castañeda, Multimedia Director
David Castañeda is starting his second year here at The Round Up, this being his first year as Multimedia Director. This is his second year at New Mexico State University and is majoring in Journalism & Media Studies. He was born and raised in El Paso, Texas as an only child but is extremely happy to be able to call Las Cruces his new home. David has had an affinity for photography since he was in elementary school and has only fallen deeper in love with the art through this job. Though David enjoys nothing more than to be behind a camera he loves to try to explore new hobbies and career options. He’s currently focused on improving his photography at The Round Up and working with the Multimedia Specialists to make the Multimedia team the best it can be. When he isn’t taking photos or editing them on Photoshop, David loves to spend his time with his 3-year-long girlfriend in their apartment where they frequently cuddle up in bed to watch some trash TV and films. On his own, he loves to play the bass and listen to music. His favorite artists are The Strokes and Gorillaz.    

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