BEST BETS: ‘As You Like It’ brings the Bard to Dover

Danielle Leneé, left, is Rosalind and Bi Jean Neo as Celia in Delaware Shakespeare’s production of “As You Like It.” The group’s community tour visits Dover Saturday and Sunday. (Submitted photo by Alessandra Nicole)

Proving the Shakespearean line that “all the world’s a stage,” Delaware Shakespeare presents “As You Like It,” through Nov. 12, bringing professional theater to underserved audiences in nontraditional venues throughout the state.

The group’s community tour, which travels with a cast of eight actors as well as original music composed by Joe Trainor, stops at the Kent County Public Library, 497 S. Red Haven Lane in Dover, Saturday at 1 p.m. and Christ Episcopal Church, 523 S. State St. in Dover, Sunday at 3 p.m. The church performance will welcome clients of three Dover homeless shelters as well as the general public.

Other free public performances will take place at Groves Adult High School in Marshallton; Ministry of Caring, The Achievement Center and Rick Van Story Resource Center in Wilmington; Delaware Psychiatric Center in New Castle; Greenwood Public Library; and Stockley Center in Georgetown.

Three additional tour venues — at Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington, Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in New Castle and the Ferris School for Boys in Wilmington are not open to the public.

“As You Like It,” one of Shakespeare’s best known comedies, centers around cousins Rosalind and Celia, who escape from their kingdom to live in the Forest of Arden, where they learn about life and love and the complexities of each.

Danielle Leneé takes on the role of Rosalind. She was on last year’s inaugural community tour that also came to Dover when the group performed “Pericles, Prince of Tyre.”

She says she was on board from the beginning.

“For an artist to bring theater, especially Shakespeare or any classical text, to different people in different communities is really kind of a jewel,” said Ms. Leneé.

“Taking it outside of the format of being in a theater and buying tickets and just stripping that all away really brings it down to just pure art and story and fun. It’s great to be able to put this at people’s front doors. I was thrilled when I first heard about it.”

With most of the venues, there is no backstage per se. The cast members are there among the audience members doing costume changes off a rack with a base outfit underneath. Ms. Leneé says that adds a strong, more intimate bond with the audience.

She said last year’s tour “exceeded everything I could have imagined.”

“The emotional engagement the audience had was incredible. Each time they became part of the show and part of the journey that each character took on stage,” she said.

“I was definitely blown away at how different people experienced theater especially when you don’t have that structure of a theater house.”

She recalls a woman at the Delaware Psychiatric Center last year who became immersed in the experience.

“A character would say something and she would comment right back. In one scene, someone dies and she was right there with us. At one point she said ‘Check her pulse. See if she’s breathing.’ During the funeral procession, Joe played this music and she began singing. It was harmonious. I could have cried,” Ms. Leneé said.

“At intermission, her caretakers said ‘Maybe we should take her out.’ We all said ‘No.’ She was on this journey with us every step of the way and totally engaged.”

In many of the performances on the tour, Delaware Shakespeare stages shows in front of audiences who may not have had much exposure to Shakespeare.

Trevor William Fayle is Orlando and Danielle Leneé as Rosalind in “As You Like It.” It premiered Wednesday night at Groves Adult High School in Marshallton. (Submitted photo by

“We try to make the text as clear as possible. I think the diversity of the cast lends itself to different interpretations,” said Ms. Leneé, who is African American.

“We have Asians, Latinos, an Armenian, African Americans. We have all different voices sharing this story. I’ve never seen a black Rosalind before so I have the ability to bring my truth to the character.”

Playing the role of the strong-willed heroine has been an eye-opening experience for her.

“Our director (Madeline Sayet) really gives us the opportunity to explore. For Rosalind, you have to think how does this connect to everyday life. She is a woman exiled from her community and lives in a forest in order for her to thrive and be heard,” Ms. Leneé said.

“She dresses like a man to live in this patriarchy and somewhere along the line recognizes the power she still possesses as a woman. So it’s all about finding that strength to be you.”

When she’s not involved in the show, Ms. Leneé helps lead an introduction to acting course at the Baylor Women’s Prison for some of the residents. The eight-week course will wrap on Monday. It focuses on Shakespeare.

“We work with the text and really break it down and work on scenes and do physical warmups,” she said.

“We play silly little games and they are so eager to play. I love that. Even in this short time, watching them evolve and seeing their courage to participate has been really great.

“It shows that despite anyone’s circumstances and for whatever reasons they are in there, there is still joy and humanity when they are in that class.”

Free tickets for the Dover performances are limited. They are available by sending an RSVP to info@delshakes.org.

Two studio performances are set for OperaDelaware, 4 Poplar St. in Wilmington, at 8 p.m. Nov. 10 and 2 p.m. Nov. 12. Tickets are $25 and are available at www.delshakes.org.

A benefit performance will be held at 8 p.m. Nov. 11 at OperaDelaware. Tickets, which include a pre-show wine reception with the cast, are $100 and are available at www.delshakes.org.

Sea Witch Festival

The Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce’s 28th annual Sea Witch Festival is set for today through Sunday.

Events include children’s activities, movies, performances, trick or treating, art, magic, pony rides, a treasure hunt, scarecrow making, beach games, hayrides and a horse show on the beach.

Bands on the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand include Blue Cat Blues Band, Glass Onion, Neon Swing X-Perience, Nothin’ But Trouble, Paul Zavinsky, Sons of Pirates, No Spare Time, Trailer Grass Orchestra, The Pantones Steel Band and Paul Hadfield.

This year’s costume parade will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday on Rehoboth Avenue. The Best Costumed Dog Contest is set for Sunday. Registration begins at 2 p.m.

Visit www.beach-fun.com for complete program information. For more festival or area information, contact the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce at 800-441-1329 ext. 12, 302-227-2233 ext. 12, or via email at rehoboth@beach-fun.com.

Family Fun Day at Woodburn

Staying in the Halloween spirit, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Woodburn, the governor’s residence, at 151 Kings Highway S.W. in Dover, will host “Halloween Family Fun Day at Woodburn.” The event is free and open to the public. Parking is available on surrounding streets. For additional information or for notification of cancellation, call 302-739-5656 or e-mail Woodburn@state.de.us.

Visitors will be guided through the public spaces of this 1798 home that has served as the official residence of Delaware’s governors since 1965.

Guests will learn how children amused themselves in the 1700s including playing games like hoop and stick, graces, quoits, ninepins, and badminton; and enjoying the folk toys Jacob’s ladder and Bilbo catcher. Visitors can also create their own scented sachet filled with herbs and spices and do a variety of other crafts.

‘Goodies & Goblins’

A “Goodies & Goblins” Trick-or-Treating event will be held at the Delaware Agricultural Museum, 866 N. DuPont Highway in Dover, on Saturday from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Children in costumes can go “trick or treating” in the authentic 1890s village and compete in a costume contest. Costume contest judging is from 5 to 6 p.m. with winners being announced and prizes awarded at 6:15. Admission is $1 per person.

‘Mr. Moribund’ at Riverfront

“Mr. Moribund’s Theater Of Terror” will be back at the Riverfront Theater today and Saturday at 7 p.m. with a showing of “Creature from the Black Lagoon” in 3D.

There will be prizes for best, most original and cutest costume. Doors open at 6:30.

Riverfront Theatre is at 2 S. Walnut St. Milford. Tickets are $5.

‘An Evening with Poe’

“An Evening with Edgar Allan Poe” will be held Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Smyrna Opera House.

The works of Edgar Allan Poe will be read in celebration of Halloween.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 for SOH members, senior citizens, and military, and $5 for children under 12. Due to the nature of some of the stories, this event is not recommended for children under 10.

This event will serve as a fundraiser for the Smyrna-Clayton Heritage Association John W. Dickinson Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Tickets are $20 and available at SmyrnaOperaHouse.org, by calling 653-4236 or visiting the box office at 7 W. South St.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra will play Dover Downs’ Rollins Center tonight at 7. (Submitted photo)

Glenn Miller Orchestra

Finally, The Glenn Miller Orchestra will bring their classic, big-band favorites back to Dover Downs Hotel & Casino today. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. show.

Tickets can be purchased online at doverdowns.com or by contacting VIP Services at (800) 711-5882. Prices range from $13 to $18.

With a repertoire of more than 1,700 compositions, the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s list of favorites include “Moonlight Serenade,” “In The Mood,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “St. Louis Blues March,” “Sunrise Serenade,” “Little Brown Jug,” and “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the horror film “Jigsaw,” Matt Damon in the black comedy “Suburbicon” and the military drama “Thank You for Your Service.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” and Halle Berry in “Kidnap.”

 

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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