Like You Like It, on the surface, is Shakespeare’s As You Like It set at a mall in the 1980s. At its heart, though, it’s about the risks everyone takes for their first love. We have witnessed audiences across the board, whether they grew up in the ’80s or not, relate to the leaps of faith the characters take and the transformations they make:
- Shy Rosalind comes out of her shell while popular jock Orlando lets someone know his sensitive side.
- Celia and Touchtone learn to look beyond outward, shallow appearances.
- Sylvie outright tells Phil how she feels about him; he reveals his big secret. Their honesty with each other takes their friendship to a new level.
- Even Audrey and Oliver, the show’s antagonists, find a deeper, more open part of themselves.
The set can be as simple or as complex as you would like. The show is crafted similar to a movie, so shifts in lighting and a multi-level set help the fast pace and multiple storylines and locations. We recommend you avoid blackouts.
The script calls for a large cast, but all of the students outside of the principals can be consolidated into 2 or 4 utility players. Casts ranging from high school to Broadway professionals have found the show to be a challenge to learn but a joy to play, and one they could do over and over again.
The style of the show should be earnest and real. With the exception of the opening number, no one comments “oh, this is the ’80s.” It’s a show that happens to take place in that era, not ABOUT that era. The show’s humor should come from real emotion and, hopefully, grounded in a universal story that relates to all audiences.
You may want to watch Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty In Pink, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the Sarah Jessica Parker-starring TV show Square Pegs, and, if you find them appropriate, share with your cast (some material is R-rated). The characters and situations have been modeled on both Shakespeare and the John Hughes & other ’80s teen movies:
- Rosalind is the straight-A student whose shyness is a lot like Molly Ringwald’s character in Sixteen Candles. She has Shakespeare’s Rosalind in her when she blossoms at the mall into a cunning, keen operator who grapples with her conscience and her discovery of how deeply she is falling in love.
- Orlando is Shakespeare’s poetic hero with a nod to jock heroes like in Sixteen Candles. The actor you cast as him would ideally be a jock who likes to sing and act.
- Celia is the loving cousin/sister/friend as Shakespeare’s Celia is to Rosalind, as well as similar to the tough best friend in Sixteen Candles, mixed with the bravado of Phoebe Cates’s character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High: all talk about their experience with boys, but carrying insecurity underneath it.
- Oliver is Shakespeare’s jealous brother turned softie by the magic of the mall and his love for “Ladonna.” His jealousy comes from his anger at his parents’ death yet is noble for trying to take care of Orlando. He also is the subject of a staple of teen movies: the makeover montage.
- Touchtone shares some traits with the Geek from Sixteen Candles mixed with the wise but salacious fool from Shakespeare. He has also been portrayed as the quirky best friend, a la Jon Cryer’s character in Pretty In Pink.
- Audrey is the Mean Girl, similar to the insensitive girlfriend from Sixteen Candles and the villain in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Though she is named Audrey, she shares some similar, nasty traits with As You Like It‘s Phebe.
- Phil and Sylvie are the gender-reversed Sylvius & Phebe from As You Like It. Sylvie, it should be noted, is the only character at the outset of the show who is transparent about her love for someone else (in this case, Phil). She is the only one who takes a risk without playing a game. They are also the purveyors of many of the ’80s pop culture references.
- Jackie is our tribute to rockers like Cyndi Lauper/Joan Jett/Pat Benatar, with shades of Annie Potts’s character in Pretty in Pink.
The show has an educational component in its tie-ins with As You Like It. In addition to the character parallels listed above, some common elements and themes are:
- The characters yearn for the freedom of the Arden Forest (mall) versus the confines of the Court (Courtland High School).
- The enchantment of the Arden Forest: Is the Arden Mall enchanted or are the characters expressing their inner desires for real?
- Rosalind plays a game of dressing as a boy who acts like a girl to get closer to the guy she likes.
- Celia as Aliena in As You Like It feels out of place in the forest. Celia in Like You Like It, though a typical mallrat, finds herself surprisingly out of place as well, as if the mall is turning against her.
- Orlando’s poems on the trees of the Arden forest have become poems on the potted plants at the mall.
- Jackie West’s cynicism is akin to Jacques, always on the outside of the happy couplings.
- While Phil and Sylvie are the gender-reversed Sylvius & Phebe, Phil truly loves Sylvie as a friend.