For fans of romantic comedy, a play that ends with three weddings is the ultimate fantasy. As You Like It, this summer’s first Shakespeare in the Park offering in its 50th year, is a celebration from the first banjo strums to the dancing at end with Lily Rabe, (Rosalind/ Ganymede) so fine at company’s center. A natural crowd-pleaser, As You Like It as directed by Daniel Sullivan, rises to the traditional Shakespearean hilarity while grounded on John Lee Beatty’s sets in the magnificent park: a log fort, trees fit for tacking on love poems--this enchanting forest appears to go forever.
Oliver Platt is loveable as Touchstone, wooing a saucy goatherd Audrey (Donna Lynne Champlin). David Furr’s Orlando, and Renee Elise Goldsberry’s Celia complement Lily Rabe’s elegant performance. Andre Braugher, well cast as Duke Frederick and Duke Senior, keeps these leaders distinct while showing that as brothers, they are flip sides of one another. That this production is set in the 19th century in the American South, may explain why Stephen Spinella’s Jaques looks a bit like Lincoln as he balances the play’s frivolity in heady philosophies. Taking a path through the woods, he leaves the excellent ensemble to its joyous finale.