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The Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co. cast from last year's performance of "Twelfth Night" pose before a performance. Kyle Ludowitz / Review

The Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co. has announced the cast for its autumn production of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” 

The cast includes Jeff Clarke as Frederick Duke/Terrance Duke, Gabriel Thomas as Orlando, Zaya Kolia as Oliver, Julia Thollaug as Rosalind, Jocelyn McMahon as Celia, Doug Nolan as Touchstone, Benoit Monin as Jaques/Charles, Dana Morgan as Audrey, Kelsey Jarden as Phebe, Tom Poeschl as Adam, Taylor Melville as Amiens/La Belle, Robyn Drake as Corinne/Hymen, Rob Hedges as Sir Martext/Forester and Ian Freeman as Silvius. 

As with all Half Moon Bay Shakespeare productions, “As You Like It” veers from the typical Elizabethan-era setting. It also features music and takes place in the 1960s. 

“It’s going to be a completely different story than it’s been in the past,” said company co-founder and director Robert Pickett. “I’ve altered the script in some ways; we will be adding music from the era.

“We have folk-rock music written by Mo Robinson that’s going to be in the show. There will be other music from that era,” he continued. “The cast will be singing and dancing, too, with full costuming from the ’60s. Our plan is to cast a ‘Summer of Love’ vibe during the festival in the park. We’re going to encourage the audience to come out and dance.”

Pickett noted with great excitement that choreographer Hayley Thirlwall was returning to the effort. She served as stage manager during the troupe’s infancy. Thirlwall went on to complete her theater degree at Southern Oregon University. 

“I hope to be known for being a person who helped people move forward in their lives,” said Pickett. “I love seeing actors who I have worked with become successful.” 

A recent diagnosis of prostate cancer has Pickett thinking a lot about his legacy. 

While he was working to finalize the production details for “As You Like It,” he was awaiting the conclusive diagnosis that his cancer had returned. 

Pickett is determined that the show must go on, but he does have a contingency plan in place. 

“My diagnosis may influence how much crew we’re going to need,” said Pickett. “A while back, I started realizing that I couldn’t continue to do all the things that I do. 

“This year, I’ll have an assistant director who will be someone to be alongside me,” he continued. “If something does happen and I can’t make it to rehearsal, someone can take it over.” 

Pickett is sure to feel the community support as he embarks on the next leg of his life’s journey. He is a beloved member of the local theater scene who had given countless hours to local performing arts projects. 

In addition to his work with the Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co., Pickett teaches Shakespeare at Main Street Scholars. His most recent directing credits at Coastal Repertory Theatre include “Death of a Salesman” and the upcoming “Dracula.” 

Pickett believes that keeping busy doing something that he loves will be the best medicine. He’s also adopted a survivor’s mindset. 

“For me, there is no alternative,” he continued. “Wallowing in self-pity and constantly asking ‘why’ is not an option. I have to move forward.”

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