The Century Center Musical Mondays series in Manhattan goes back to the era of Pat Benatar and big hair — the 1980s — to present staged readings of a developing new musical, Like You Like It, inspired by Shakespeare's As You Like It, 6 and 8 PM Dec. 3.
Billed as "the 1980s musical," the teen-punctuated musical comedy with book and lyrics by Sammy Buck and music by Daniel S. Acquisto, is directed in the reading by Bick Goss and features Amy Zimmerman, David Joseph, Tara Sands, Kevin Cahoon, Farah Alvin, Joshua Park, Lucia Giannetta, Steve Lavner and Stephen Lee Anderson. Musical director is Tom Kitt (known for the Tom Kitt Band).
The first act will be presented in the readings. The authors have been describing the work this way in their flyer: "All the world's a mall in this totally awesome mix of Shakespeare and John Hughes."
"The idea originated about four years ago when I was looking for a comedy to adapt," Buck told Playbill On-Line. "I recalled As You Like It from high school (I played a small role — one that did not make it into the adaptation), and remembered the theme of the play was about getting away to this magical place, the Arden Forest, where you can really relax, be yourself and find Nirvana. I thought, 'Where does that usually happen now?' The answer: like, the mall. Then the idea came to me to call it Like You Like It and set it in the 80s. We rented a lot of the 'classics' as research: 'Valley Girl,' 'Pretty in Pink,' 'Just One of the Guys.' We saw a lot of big hair and leg warmers."
Buck and Acquisto are members of the BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, the New York City not-for-profit crucible of creativity where hopeful musical theatre writers are matched and work on assigned song exercises and their own works, and later gather to present their developing material in a safe environment of criticism, moderated by theatre professionals such as Pat Cook, Richard Engquist, Frank Evans, Maury Yeston, David Spencer and others. Buck received grants from the Jerome Foundation and the Firedoll Foundation for his play Barry the Hatchet (directed by Jonathan Gellert), which was workshopped last year. His lyrics have been showcased in Los Angeles at the Shrine Auditorium and in Broadway on Sunset's 2000 Cabaret at the Los Angeles Theatre Centre. Other readings include his play Headstones and Headboards (Outlet Theater Company), and musicals Shadow of a Doubt (with Bill Sheldon) and The Lunch That Changed the World (with Brian Woodbury). A graduate of USC's screenwriting program, he has written and performed at the Groundlings, Second City and National Lampoon.
Composer Acquisto received his MM in Acoustic and Electronic Composition from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In addition to composing, he also music directs, plays percussion, and teaches music. Some commissions include: The Cobblers & Elves (Lucy Moses School), Barry The Hatchet (with Sammy Buck), Antigone the rock musical (Studio Arena Theatre School), Sing No Sad Songs for Me (University of Cincinnati Men's Chorus), Audubon Trail (USAF Heartland of America Band) and more. He is currently working with the concert theatre group FUSE and writing dance music for Dancing in the Dark.
Century Center is at 111 E. 15th Street (off of Union Square East). A $10 donation is suggested. For reservations or information, call (212) 982-6782 ext 19.
— By Kenneth Jones