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I'm going to make a confession. No, not some juicy, scandalous admission. Only that when it comes to Shakespeare, I'm a traditionalist. I like my Shakespeare to be pretty much like the Elizabethans saw it.

I'm wary of productions that gussy the Bard's works up in modern garb.But two recent productions - TheatreWorks West's provocative "Hamlet" and, just this week, a 1960ish rendition of "As You Like It" - have been pleasant surprises, both of them driving home the realization that what William Shakespeare wrote four centuries ago still speaks eloquently to society today.

Take "As You Like It," which opened Thursday night as a brilliantly boisterous student production in the Babcock Theatre on the University of Utah campus.

Shakespeare's dialogue is mostly intact, but guest director Juliette Carrillo of New York has moved love-smitten Orlando and Rosalind from what would normally be a traditional forest glade into a bright, Technicolor woodland filled with funkily attired Flower Children.

This magical Forest of Arden could just as easily be a corner of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park during the Haight-Ashbury era.

It's helped, I'm sure, by the fact that "As You Like It" is a Renaissance comedy and that rebellious youths in the late '60s were embarking on something of a radical renaissance of their own.

The poetic songs Shakespeare inserted into the comedy's text easily lend themselves to free-wheeling folksong compositions, with appropriate accompaniment.

Perhaps no writer but Shakespeare could get away with juggling as many subplots as there are in "As You Like It."

Even more impressive is the overall quality of the energetic, all-student cast. The acting was equal to that normally found in any of the other semi-professional ensembles around the Wasatch Front.

The play's 33 roles (two-thirds of which are distinct speaking parts) are spread among nearly 20 actors. Some characters are more well-defined than others, but a handful simply get lost in the shuffle.

There were some exceptional performances by the leading players. (Part of the excitement in reviewing Babcock student produc-tions is wondering which of these bright, up-and-comers we'll be seeing in future professional roles.)

Jennifer Buckalew and Kris Lane Nelson, as the lovestruck Rosalind and Orlando, were terrific.

Other very fine performances are given by Diane McKendrick as Celia, Rosalind's cousin and dearest friend; Justin Campbell as the comical Touchstone, Myk Watford as the villainous Duke Fredrick; Eunice Phillips as the buxom Audrey, a country wench; Christine Woodward as shepherdess Phebe (presented here as a tough-looking, leather-clad babe), being wooed by lovestruck Silvius, played by Bard Robin Goodrich.

Trevor Williams as the melancholy, philosophizing Jaques, has the play's most famous line: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players . . . " and Randy Reyes is wonderful as shepherd Corin, depicted here as a bald Asian guru given to frequent yoga stances.

And one of the most hilarious performances was in the show's opening scenes when Charles, the court wrestler who challenges Orlando, was depicted by Kent Gasser with a Sylvester Stallone style, straight-from-the-Bronx dialect.

Guest designer Nephelie Andonyadis, also from New York, has created a grand set in the somewhat restrictive confines of the Babcock stage. The opening scenes are presented against a plain gray background - but when the action shifts to the Forest of Arden, six panels glide off to reveal a bright, green forest (with plenty of trees, so Orlando can carve his sweet poems to Rosalind in the bark).

Gesel Mason's choreography, Tiffany Fraedrich's lighting, Kori Ramsey's sound, and Amy Irvin and Libby Mitchell's costuming all add their own first-rate touches to a highly entertaining production.

It may not be "traditional," but it's packed with energy and laughs.