As You Like It, Shakespeare & Company

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Artistic Director Tony Simotes
Founders’ Theatre, Lenox, Mass.
June 24 – September 4, 2011

As the banished Duke Senior in the Forest of Arden (PHOTO: Kevin Sprague)

As the usurping Duke Frederick, telling his daughter Celia (Kelly Curran) that she would be viewed more favorably in Paris if her cousin Rosiland (Merritt Janson) were exiled with her father, his brother. (PHOTO: Kevin Sprague)

Critical Response

Johnny Lee Davenport does double duty as both of the brothers Duke. He is mean and hard as Celia’s father and charmingly observant and almost obsequious as Rosalind’s long-lost dad.”
J. Peter Bergman, Peter Bergman Theater Reviews (July 2, 2011)

“It’s a perfect vehicle for this company’s limber, word-obsessed actors and director Tony Simotes (who started out as a fight director as well as actor) because it pairs their verbal skills with opportunities for lively athleticism. His production barely gives the audiences time to catch their breath, let alone the actors, especially the suave veteran Johnny Lee Davenport, cast both as the good Duke and the Bad Duke, the one who expels most of the characters from his court and the one who welcomes them to his refuge in the Forest of Arden.”
—Helen Epstein, The Arts Fuse (July 3, 2011)

“A dark side occupies the first quarter of both the play and the production as the severe, despotic, usurping Duke Frederick (Johnny Lee Davenport) and his heir, Oliver (Josh Aaron McCabe), rule the kingdom they have seized from Frederick’s brother, Duke Senior (also Davenport) and Oliver’s brother, Orlando (Tony Roach), who have been banned from the kingdom and taken up residence in the forest of Arden.
—Jeffrey Borak, Berkshire Eagle (July 4, 2011)

“Rosalind’s father, Duke Senior (Johnny Lee Davenport), had repaired to the woods to live with several other lords “like the old Robin Hood of England,’’ as one character puts it, after he was usurped and sent into exile by his own brother, Duke Frederick, also played by the versatile Davenport.”
Don Aucoin, The Boston Globe (July 6, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport has the most challenging job of playing the two duke brothers. He manages to make them distinct enough so that he really does seem like two different people. The two characters are never on the stage at the same time, but their cues are quite close so quick costume changes and fast feet with separate entrances do the job admirably.”
Kory Loucks, Journal Inquirer (July 7, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport played both of the feuding Dukes with more than enough contrast.”
B. A. Nilsson, Metroland (July 7, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport scores in a dual role as the Dukes. One brother is evil, adding a needed conflict. The other is all heart, providing a human grounding for the often silly proceedings.”
Jonathan Levine, The Pittsfield Gazette (July 7, 2011)

“Fortunately, Epstein’s fellow veterans Josh Aaron McCabe (Oliver, Orlando’s murderous brother), Jonathan Croy (Corin), Tod Randolph (Jaques) Johnny Lee Davenport (Duke Frederick), and Malcolm Ingram (Adam) rise to Epstein’s level. The bar is set high, and they clear it.”
Dan Valenti, Planet Valenti (July 7, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport brings the right dignity and kindness to the role of Duke Senior; Davenport plays the bad Duke Frederick as well, with speedy costume changes and total changes of attitude. Seeing him in both roles heightens our understanding of what a father can and should do.”
Harriet F. Bergmann, Berkshire Record (July 8, 2011)

“At the heart of the play is the love story of Orlando (Tony Roach) and Rosalind (Merritt Janson)—dashed out of the court of Duke Frederick and sent in exile to the Forest of Arden, to seek out Frederick’s gentler brother, Duke Senior. Johnny Lee Davenport plays both of the latter leaders, and he does so with mighty, mighty voice. He anchors this production by sheer force of will, and his rage offers a real dynamic that is balanced by the lightness of Epstein’s best scenes.”
Michael Eck, Times Union (July 9, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport plays each of the two feuding brothers. He is rough and unfeeling as Duke Frederick and compassionate as Duke Senior.”
—Bob Goepfert. The Troy Record (July 14, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport turned in sturdy portrayals as the competing potentates, Duke Frederick and Duke Senior.”
David Begelman, News-Times (July 16, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport doubles as Duke Senior and Duke Frederick, a smart touch and one that the distinctive-looking Mr. Davenport brings off with unexpected ease.”
Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal (July 29, 2011)


“Simotes has chosen to set his Forest of Arden on the outskirts of A Roaring Twenties Paris, where the usurping Duke Frederick has established an autocratic rule after banishing his brother, the rightful Duke Senior, both played by the versatile Johnny Lee Davenport.”
Gloria Miller, Curtain Up (July 2011)

“Rosalind is banished by her Uncle Frederick (Johnny Lee Davenport) the cruel duke, to join her father, the nice Duke Senior (also Davenport, in some deft casting).”Berkshire Home and Style (July 2011)

“Janson is surrounded by dream cast veterans Jonathan Epstein, Jonathan Croy, Johnny Lee Davenport, [and] Malcolm Ingram.”
Shera Cohen, In the Spotlight (August 13, 2011)

Johnny Lee Davenport is powerful as both of the Dukes.”
Ron Lee, WBRK (August 16, 2011)

“Perhaps the most striking performance in this show was that of Johnny Lee Davenport, cast as both the bad Duke Frederick and his banished brother. Mr. Davenport gained a spot on our list of favorite Shakespearean actors with his delivery of one of our favorite speeches in all of Shakespeare: the good Duke’s ode to the pastoral life. In gesture and speech, the two characters could hardly have been more different; we could hardly believe that both the brutal Duke who banished his niece from court and the mellow, gracious Duke who welcomed Orlando to the Forest of Ardenne were played by the same actor.”
Emsworth (September 4, 2011)

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