Shakespeare takes center stage at The Dancing Goat

'As You Like It' continues until Aug. 4

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Dancing Goat Theatre is working on its own rendition of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” in its location on State Bridge Road in Johns Creek.

“As You Like It” will continue running until Aug. 4.

The show tells the love story of Rosalind and Orlando, and co-directors Michael Witherell and Margarita Moldovan have worked to ensure that the message is not lost to audiences who are not acquainted with the Shakespearean dialect.

“My intent behind the show is to make a Shakespeare that’s accessible and funny to an audience that’s not familiar with Shakespeare,” Witherell said. “If you take the language away from the show…you still get the sense of the story and the sense of characters falling in love and struggling in order to maintain that love.”

The majority of the cast is made up of local high school and college students, who are home for the summer; however, auditions are always open to performers any age.

Because the theater is a nonprofit organization, most of these students are also part of the group fondly known as the Fellowship of the Goat, which helps keep the doors of the theater open.

The fellowship, which has about 23 members, consists of mostly high school and college students that volunteer to do everything from painting sets to helping with marketing.

“That’s what I want it to be,” said Moldovan, who is also the executive director for the theater. “I want people in the apartments next door to go, ‘I’m bored, I’m going to go to the Goat and paint.’”

The Dancing Goat first opened in 2011 with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Johns Creek Foundation.

Since then, ticket sales, donations and another $10,000 gift from the city of Johns Creek have been instrumental in keeping the theater running.

The initial intention was to ensure that classical theater had a home in Johns Creek and so the Goat typically focuses on Shakespeare.

For the students who pitch in and participate in the productions, this focus has been a tremendous learning tool inside and outside of rehearsal.

“Doing theater is one of the best ways to tear into a text… It’s the most in-depth you can get with a piece of literature because you’re actually performing it,” said Daniel Chenard, an upcoming college sophomore home from Northwestern University.

Chenard also said that working with the Goat has kept him learning even outside of school and taught him the benefit of hard work and dedication.

Devon Hales, another college student, said she returns to see her old friends from high school and for the Goat’s emphasis on education.

“Out in the college world or the professional world, it’s a lot more focused on the end product like how many tickets you sell,” Hales said. “It’s nice to come here where it’s focused on the crew effort and the creation process.”

Moldovan and her team have shaped that environment on purpose. She mentions that encouraging the growth of each volunteer, both professionally and personally, has become a mission close to her heart.

“It’s not so much about training actors as learning to love to read, learning the act of theater and learning how art can basically change the world,” Moldovan said.

The next production from The Dancing Goat will be David Auburn’s “Proof,” which will be performed in October.