Shakespeare in the desert at PT high school

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William Shakespeare meets the American West in Port Townsend High School’s production of “As You Like It,” which opens this week.

The play also is a finale for director Jennifer Nielsen, who announced she is retiring from her 15-year career with the drama program.

“I’ve produced every show that was ever on my to-do list and had a great time doing it, but I’m ready for a new adventure,” Nielsen stated in a press release.

“As You Like It” plays three weekends this month, from May 4 through 19.

The pastoral comedy centers around a young noblewoman, Rosalind (played by senior Cece Nielsen), who flees persecution in her aunt’s home to find safety and, eventually, love in the forest – or, in this case, the desert of Arden – while disguised as a man.

To help with the 1800s Western feel, the play also features music and dances, with songs such as “The Book of Love” “Dream Lover” and “Honeycomb,” adapted by Port Townsend composer Linda Dowdell.

In addition to Cece Nielsen, the cast also includes Galia Roman as Rosalind’s cousin, Celia; Bodie Labrie as Orlando, with Finn O’Donnell as his evil brother, Oliver; and Sorina Johnston as the melancholy traveler Jaques or, in this case, Jacqueline.

Other student actors include Pierre Ballou, Katherine Eldridge, Brooke Hageman, Violet Moell, Odin Smith, Zinnia Hansen, Cyan Adams and Nylah Garling. The backstage crew includes Rosalyn Salmon, Monica Chairez-Molina, Lily O’Shea and Anouk Kaiser.

The band is led by Dowdell on piano and senior Clover Coupe-Carlin on drums. Many of the student actors also join the band for songs during the show.

Angela Gyurko and Tomoki Sage choreographed dance and combat, respectively; Jennifer Nielsen and Cece Nielsen designed the stage, which was built by Jim Guthrie and members of the cast and crew; Steve Arbuckle is in charge of lighting design; and hair and makeup design is by Angela Agnew.

Performances are at 7 p.m. May 4-5, 11-12 and 18-19. A matinee will be presented at 2:30 p.m. May 13 – Mother’s Day.

Admission prices range from $10 for adults to $3 for children 12 and younger.  

All proceeds fund future productions at PTHS.

For more information, contact Nielsen at jnielsen@ptschools.org or 360-344-3021.

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