Rosalind in “As You Like It” is the largest female role in any of Shakespeare’s comedies, according to Beach Vickers, founding artistic director of the Shakespeare Studio of Montgomery.

And Rosalind will make her way to Montgomery on Friday, July 19. That’s when Bridget Rue Esterhuizen portrays her in a free outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s masterpiece scheduled by the Rustic Mechanicals of Clarksburg, the state’s only professional Shakespeare touring troupe. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the Park at 5th and Lee.

Bring your own lawn chair and a blanket or jacket if chilly, says Vickers. Admission is free, but his non-profit Montgomery Shakespeare group will ask for a $10 voluntary cash contribution by audience members who would like to support the development of a larger Shakespeare festival planned for the future.

“Rosalind is funny, smart, creative, fierce, unpredictable, and utterly real,” says Esterhuizen. “She gets to tackle gender norms, love vulnerably, and experience romance, friendship, and being a daughter. She is utterly contemporary, yet written by Shakespeare.”

“To further draw you into the play’s feeling of modernity, the performers will sing modern songs and play instruments like guitars," said Vickers. "The fast-moving play moves from court to banishment in the woods, and there’s even a wrestling match."

The spoken words are all by Shakespeare. The play has been edited to last only about 90 minutes, and so the play is suitable for all ages, he adds.

“As You Like It” is directed by Jim Warren. He is a much sought after Shakespeare director who was instrumental in creating the acclaimed American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia, according to Vickers.

In case of light rain, the show will continue at the park. If the weather is more threatening, a nearby indoor venue will be announced.

The Rustic Mechanicals are in their sixth year of performing Shakespeare on tour.

“The famous line ‘all the world’s a stage’ is from ‘As You Like It,’ and the Rustic Mechanicals are living proof of it as they are taking their current Laugh and Let Go Tour of the play all over the state,” Vickers says.

The public is also invited to a preshow fundraiser for Montgomery’s Shakespeare Studio on Thursday, July 18. A buffet dinner will be served, and the Rustic Mechanicals will lead diners in an audience-interactive Shakespeare experience called “Shakespeareoke.” There will also be a cash bar.

“It’s like karaoke, but there’s no singing,” Vickers explained. “Volunteers from the audience can read short Shakespeare selections on their own or with the help of the professional actors – just for fun – or you can just watch and enjoy the show.”

The fundraiser will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 18 at Ludoria’s Family Restaurant, 188 Boomer Loop Road, Boomer, WV 25031. A $20 cash donation will be taken at the door, but reservations must be made by July 12.

“Please go online at howdee.ticketleap.com to learn how to make reservations for the dinner theater fundraiser by phone, email, mail or online,” says Vickers. “After reserving, you can pay at the door.”

Vickers lists sustaining supporters of his theater company as the City of Montgomery, City of Smithers, Montgomery Parks Board, BridgeValley Community and Technical College and these town civic organizations: Eagle Aerie 1040 and their women’s auxiliary, Lions Club, Woman’s Club, and the Eastern Star. Support has also come from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the Morris Creek Watershed Association.

For more information, email VintageTheatreCo@gmail.com or call 1-855-VTC-8588. The Rustic Mechanicals can also be found on Facebook and at http://vintagetheatre-wv.com. Shakespeareoke information is online at howdee.ticketleap.com and on the Facebook page named The Shakespeare Studio of Montgomery, WV.

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