PICK! ASR Theater ~~ Musical “As You Like It” at SF Playhouse

By Mitchell Field

As You Like It, the Musical at SF Playhouse is delightful. Originally presented by The Public Theater, The New York Times named it among “The Best Theater of 2017.”

The performances are terrific, all the actors clearly having a great time onstage, totally invested in giving their absolute best to drive the show along and to entertain. This modern adaptation of a Shakespearean classic is well-directed by Bill English, who on opening night graciously thanked members of the press for attending.

The show is just plain fun!

Entrances and exits are head-spinningly perfect, the rollicking energy spectacular. The spare sets by English and Heather Kenyon are great, the lighting superb, (David Robertson), the choreography marvelous (Nicole Helfer), the costuming charming (Kathleen Qiu), and the live band terrific (Dave Dobrusky + 4). The show is just plain fun! They even threw in a Kanye West joke.

Oliver (front left: Ryan Torres) is summoned into court by Duke Frederick (Will Springhorn Jr. – center back), viewed by (l to r: Renee Rogoff, Jillian A. Smith, Johann Santiago Santos) in SF Playhouse’s musical version of “As You Like It”. Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli

The production has many elements of an English pantomime, a Christmas-season tradition in the UK. This reviewer would have enjoyed seeing even more of this. Slapstick components include topical humor, call-and-response lines with the audience, a “drag” character (in addition to Rosalind, the Bard’s original), and some lame “badda-bing” jokes such as:

  • “Did you know that I own a pencil used by William Shakespeare? He chewed on it a lot though, so I can’t tell if it’s 2B or not 2B.”
  • “Did you know that Shakespeare was able to write with either his left or right hand equally well? Yes, he was iambidextrous.”

“Over-the-top” is a perfect description of this show. My guest loved it and so did the entire audience. The 17 players received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Orlando (Nikita Burshteyn) invades the forest community of Arden (l to r: Ezra Reaves, Emily Dwyer, Jillian A. Smith) in the forest of Arden in San Francisco Playhouse’s musical version of “As You Like It,” performing now through January 14, 2023. Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli

Even though the songs in this show are written by Shaina Taub, currently working with Sir Elton John on a musical adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada, I didn’t leave the auditorium singing or even humming the songs, My Fair Lady it ain’t, but how many musical shows are? Even so, as a fun, entertaining theater experience, it was “as I like it.”


Mitchell Field is a Sr. Contributing Writer for Aisle Seat Review. Based in Marin County, Mr. Field is an actor and voting member of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC). Contact: mitchfield@aol.com


ProductionAs You Like It, the Musical
Written byWilliam Shakespeare - adapted by Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery Music and Lyrics by Shaina Taub
Directed by
Musical direction by
Bill English
Dave Dobrusky
Producing CompanySan Francisco Playhouse
Production DatesThru Jan 14th, 2023
Production AddressSF Playhouse
450 Post Street
San Francisco, CA
Telephone(415) 677-9596
Tickets$15 - $100
Reviewer ScoreMax in each category is 5/5
Aisle Seat Review Pick?YES!