Hickory – Some of Shakespeare’s best loved characters are his fools and the romantic comedy As You Like It has two of his greatest, Touchstone and Jaques. In the upcoming production at the Hickory Community Theatre these characters are played by Justin Thomas and Mark Alton Rose. This pair of actors last shared the stage in the October 2017 production of The Foreigner.

Thomas, who is playing Touchstone, is a native of Sawmills, NC who was last seen on the HCT stage as Houdini in Ragtime. He received the 2018 Kay Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for playing Ellard in The Foreigner, where he played opposite Rose. Thomas is very excited to be working with him again, even though they don’t have many scenes together in this play.

Rose, who has the role of Jaques, has a B.A. in Theatre Arts and has been working in both community theatre and professional film and television since graduation. He also worked in radio for over 20 years at such stations as WFMX in Statesville and Joy 95 in Virginia Beach. He is a four time Kay Award winner.

As You Like It may be considered unique among Shakespeare’s comedies for having two “fools,” although Jaques is not named as such.

Touchstone is the official fool, a jester at the court of Duke Frederick, the usurper. Like all Shakespeare’s fools, he is a very witty, intelligent man who displays a good deal of wisdom. Jaques, by contrast, is the melancholy companion of the banished Duke Senior and not an official “court jester.” Humorous in his own way, and with wisdom to spare, he takes quite a liking to Touchstone when they finally meet.

Performances of As You Like It are February 1-17, 2019, Fridays and Saturdays (Feb 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 & 16) at 8:00pm, Thursdays (Feb 7 & 14) at 7:30pm and Sundays (Feb 10 & 17) at 2:30pm.

Tickets for Fridays through Sundays are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors (60 and over), and $10 for students and youth 18 and under.

Tickets for Thursday night performances are $14 for adults and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Call the box office at 828-328-2283 or visit hickorytheatre.org to purchase tickets or get more information.

HCT is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. The Theatre’s 2018-2019 Season is sponsored by Paramount Automotive and A Cleaner World. As You Like It is produced by Catawba Radiology.

Photo: Justin Thomas (left) and Mark Alton Rose play a pair of wise fools in As You Like It. The Shakespeare comedy opens on February 1, 2019 on the Jeffers Mainstage at the Hickory Community Theatre. Call 828-328-2283 or visit hickorytheatre.org for tickets or more information. Photo by Carol Anne Hartman Photography.