Friday, December 15, 2023

Silver Spring's Lumina proves you really can get kids to like Shakespeare

The theater industry has fallen onto some pretty hard times since the pandemic. And looking back through my blog, I can't believe my last "theater" entry was when I saw Hamilton in New York in 2018. I used to frequently post reviews from shows around Washington D.C., especially ones I used to like so much at the Woolly Mammoth.

But a lot of shows have not really caught my eye at the Woolly or other prime venues lately. Plus my actor buddy who was always in great shows around the city has moved to Oregon. And sometimes it's those connections that really help push people (at least me) over the edge towards getting out the door and into the seats. I wasn't expecting much when headed out tonight to see a reimagining of Shakespeare's As You Like It set in hippy times and featuring lots of local kids who my kids know. Not only was the band in the show led by one of my former bandmates in The Sprogs (so obviously the music was great, right?), but the show was really funny and I truly enjoyed it. 

Early into the play at Lumina Studio Theater in Silver Spring, I couldn't believe the script could have been written essentially by a bunch of elementary and high-school kids. Children are definitely not Shakespeare's key demographic and they certainly don't write and perform with such excellent comic timing in ther Bard's works, not even in Bard spoofs.

And when I looked at the program a little later, this As You Like It - actually titled As You Dig It - was indeed written back in 2002 by David Minton. But the cast and band worked really hard to put on a knock-out performance that had me laughing out loud constantly. 

Some of the highlight songs performed, as the characters set about trying to perform a play within the play ("all the world's a stage") and deal with themes of love, envy, gender, and more, include Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco," "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies, "Reflections" by Diana Ross, and "Light My Fire" by The Doors. 

The stage was packed with the players most of the time, and there are actually two separate casts that have been performing different showtimes. Just about everyone in the cast gets their moments to shine and several have very promising thesbian careers ahead of them if they take that path.

That makes the future of the stage quite bit more promising than I had been giving it credit for lately.

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