JAQUES, a philosopher, experiences writer’s block as she struggles to complete her new manifesto/philosophy. As she ponders her opening phrase (“Prologue: All The World’s A Stage”), the world of past and present collide in her imagination as ORLANDO and ROSALIND grow up. Orlando is the youngest son of the deceased Sir Rowland de Boys. Rosalind is the only child of the banished Duke Senior. Beginning as young children filled with hope and possibilities, they transform into angst-filled ’tweeners uncomfortable in their own skin, and then finally become young adults, alone and longing for their absent parents. Jaques ends the song with more questions than when she began, and all three share the space isolated in their own grief.
As the worlds break apart, Orlando sits alone at his family home. ADAM, the elderly longtime employee of the de Boys estate, warns Orlando that his elder brother Oliver is looking for him. When Adam leaves to retrieve Oliver, Orlando privately expresses all the grievances he has towards his brother, who failed to educate him as he promised their father he would (“The Man I’m Supposed To Be”). Without options, Orlando prepares himself to fight in the Duke’s wrestling match. OLIVER returns with Adam, and Adam is forced to break up a fight between the two brothers. Orlando leaves, and Oliver plots revenge on his brother. The AGENT of Bronco, Duke Frederick’s champion luchador wrestler, arrives and tells Oliver that his younger brother plans to wrestle in the Duke’s championship tournament. Oliver seizes the opportunity and makes a deal with the Agent to have Bronco kill Orlando in the ring.
Meanwhile in the court, ROSALIND is in her dressing room with her cousin CELIA, the daughter of the reigning Duke Frederick. Celia tries to cheer Rosalind up by getting HISPERIA and all the Ladies in Waiting to dress her up, but Rosalind remains ambivalent and discontented (“Rosalind Be Merry”). TOUCHSTONE, Duke Frederick’s clown, arrives to escort them to the wrestling match.
All the royal subjects arrive at the wrestling match to cheer on reigning champion BRONCO (“The Wrestling Match”). One by one, Bronco easily defeats challengers FRANKIE FLOW and CAVEMAN. Orlando enters the ring and defeats Bronco. Impressed by his bravery, DUKE FREDERICK approaches Orlando and asks him to reveal himself. Orlando proudly declares he is the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, which silences everyone. Duke Frederick, declaring that Orlando's dead father was his enemy, denies Orlando the championship title. The arena immediately empties as everyone scrambles to avoid the Duke’s anger. Alone, Orlando sings to an empty arena (“After The Match”). Rosalind overhears and, inspired by Orlando’s courage, gives him a necklace that was once her father’s. It is love at first sight. Orlando is tongue-tied. As they share a moment of awkwardness, Celia and Touchstone drag Rosalind away. Orlando chides himself for not saying anything.
Back in her dressing room, Celia witnesses a ‘changed’ Rosalind, who is floating after her encounter with Orlando. Rosalind admits she is in love. Suddenly, Duke Frederick bursts into the dressing room with his army of minions. Shaken by Orlando’s victory, Duke Frederick banishes Rosalind from the court, claiming she is a traitor like her father. The Duke leaves, and Celia plots to escape with her cousin into the Forest of Arden in search of Rosalind’s banished father. They plan to disguise themselves: Celia as a shepherdess called Aliena and Rosalind as a young man called Ganymede. They take the clown Touchstone with them.
Meanwhile, Adam tells Orlando that his brother Oliver plans to burn Orlando's lodging. Adam gives Orlando his life savings and encourages him to flee into the forest of Arden, offering to join him as his faithful employee. Touched, Orlando accepts his offer and together they escape to Arden.
The world of Arden is revealed with the sound of drummers led by DUKE SENIOR and the entire community of Arden (“In Arden”) who sing and dance in solidarity. Jaques keeps interrupting, debating with Duke Senior, belittling the illusion of positive affirmations of overcoming adversity when there is so much pain and destruction in the world.
In another part of the forest, GANYMEDE (Rosalind), ALIENA (Celia) and Touchstone arrive, tired, exhausted and hungry. They see SILVIA, a young shepherdess, telling PAPA CORIN, a farmer, and MAMA CORIN, his wife, about her deep and profound love for PHOEBE, another shepherdess. Phoebe walks by, and Silvia awkwardly tries to present her with an over-the-top romantic gesture, which turns Phoebe off. She exits with Silvia in hot pursuit. Celia begs them to ask the CORINS for help, which they willingly lend, leading them to their cottage, which is for sale. As they exit, ANDY, a farmhand, walks by and says hello to Touchstone. Attracted, Touchstone exits in pursuit.
In yet another part of the forest, Orlando holds up a very weak Adam. Adam begs Orlando to allow him to just lie down and die, but Orlando refuses, begging Adam to stay alive.
All of Arden arrives from all parts of the forest to come and break bread together at the community potluck picnic. They bring what they have and offer it up for the entire community. All ages, races, religions, and sexual orientations gather together, helping, caring and feeding one another. It is a model society of acceptance, compassion and love. Duke Senior leads them all in a blessing of thanks (“Under the Greenwood Tree”). From out of nowhere, Orlando invades the sacred communal meal, brandishing a weapon. He demands food but is disarmed by the kindness and compassion of Duke Senior and the community, who invite him to sit and join them. Orlando tells them that Adam is dying, and they invite Adam to join them as well. Orlando retrieves the ailing Adam, who is immediately cared for by the community. Ashamed by his aggressive approach, Orlando privately confesses to Duke Senior his situation and discovers that his father and the Duke were close friends. The communal song ends with Orlando and Adam being taken in by this community of banished individuals.
Meanwhile, back in the court, Duke Frederick learns from Hisperia that Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone have fled and Orlando might be in their company. Enraged, Duke Frederick orders his minions to find Oliver, who will undoubtedly know his brother's whereabouts.
Back in Arden, Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone laugh over the discovery of sappy poems and love letters hanging from the trees. In another part of the forest, Orlando writes and hangs those confessions of love (“Will U Be My Bride”). He is backed up by an all-male dance group known as De Boys. He allows his imagination to run wild, expressing what he thinks love is and the role he plays in being the perfect groom. His declarations are over-the-top, immature, unrealistic expressions of love. As Orlando fantasizes, Rosalind chides. Celia sends Touchstone off to tell Rosalind that Orlando has authored these love notes and that he is here in the forest! Suddenly, Orlando appears, hanging notes in the trees. They hide and watch as Jaques appears to condemn Orlando for defacing the trees with bad poetry. Orlando sends her off and Ganymede appears, offering to teach Orlando how to be “cured” of love (“Imagine I’m Your Lover”). Not interested in being healed but intrigued by the challenge of his love being tested, Orlando takes Ganymede up on his offer. Let the games begin.
In another part of the forest, Touchstone pursues Andy, trying to woo him with witty banter, but Andy distrusts the intentions of this man from the court. Trying to seduce him, Touchstone reveals that he has asked MARTEXT, an Ardenite priestess, to meet them in the forest to marry them. Andy, surprised and moved by Touchstone’s bold declaration of love and willingness to make a commitment, agrees to marry him. Martext appears and when she says someone must be there to witness the ceremony, Touchstone privately whispers to her that he prefers to not be married well so it can provide him with an excuse to leave. Andy overhears this and storms off, with Touchstone in pursuit.
In yet another part of the forest, Rosalind is livid that Orlando is late for their appointed meeting, and Celia does not think Orlando is truly in love. Suddenly, Papa and Mama Corin race on, looking for Ganymede and Aliena so they can witness round two of Silvia pursuing Phoebe. They all hide as Phoebe and Silvia enter. Silvia passionately expresses the agonizing nature of her love for Phoebe (“You Phoebe Me”) and Phoebe challenges her exaggerated declarations of love. Personally feeling the bitter rejection of love denied, Ganymede jumps out of her hiding spot to defend Silvia’s authentic love and chide Phoebe for her cruelty. Gobsmacked by Ganymede, Phoebe falls head over heels in love with “him.” Ganymede rejects her and storms off with Celia and the Corins, but Phoebe comes up with a plan to woo him by sending him a letter through Silvia. Silvia agrees. Alone, Silvia is filled with a moment of hard-won joy, shouting to the world her love for Phoebe.
Jaques witnesses Ardenite HUNTERS almost killing a deer and rails at the injustices of man. Duke Senior, MISS AMIENS and a group of Ardenites overhear her and invite her to join them in celebrating the circle of life (“Oh Deer”). Immediately, an Ardenite Hootenanny breaks out with partner dancing and singing filling the space. Everyone is dancing with everyone. Gender does not define these couples, just joy and companionship. Think family weddings, quinceañera, line dancing. Andy is the life of the party, dancing with everyone. Touchstone watches him and Andy grabs WILLIAM in an effort to make Touchstone jealous. They dance as Touchstone moves through the crowd trying to get near to Andy. As song and dance ends, Andy exits the hootenanny with William, much to the heartbreak of Touchstone.
Inspired by what she witnessed, Jaques tries to return to her manifesto/philosophy, but is interrupted by Ganymede/Rosalind, who asks what she is writing. Thrilled that someone is showing interest, Jaques starts to share it, but Orlando interrupts her. Ganymede, pissed, chides Orlando as a false lover (“When I’m Your Wife”) but it turns into a very vulnerable moment as the lines between disguise and truth blur for Rosalind. Confused, Orlando excuses himself to dine with Duke Senior, but he swears he will not be late for their next meeting. Unconvinced, Rosalind collapses in her cousin’s arms, finally admitting that she is deeply in love with Orlando.
Back in the court, Duke Frederick interrogates Oliver on the whereabouts of his brother, Orlando. Oliver confesses that he hates his brother and does not know where he has fled. Duke Frederick demands he find him or he will seize all his money and property.
Back in Arden, Silvia races after Ganymede/Rosalind and Aliena/Celia, delivering a letter from Phoebe. Ganymede reads it, sharing that it is filled with insults. She accuses Silvia of writing the letter. Silvia protests and Ganymede sends her off telling her to tell Phoebe to shift her love of Ganymede towards Silvia instead. Joyfully, Silvia exits as Oliver enters. He immediately locks eyes with Aliena/Celia. It is love at first sight. Oliver shares the story of how his brother Orlando was attacked while trying to save a man (“The Lion and The Snake”). Revealing a bloody handkerchief, he shows proof of why his brother is unable to meet with Ganymede. Rosalind faints into Oliver’s arms, but Celia brings her back to consciousness.
Meanwhile, Touchstone continues to pursue Andy as they argue over William. William enters, and Touchstone interrogates his feelings towards Andy. When William easily expresses his love and desire to commit to Andy, Touchstone loses it and threatens William, who runs away, freaked out. Finally, Touchstone allows his true feelings to come forward and he proposes to Andy in a huge romantic gesture (“My Groom”) complete with backup De Boys dancers. Andy enthusiastically accepts his proposal.
Orlando discusses with Oliver how it is possible to fall in love at first sight and then immediately plan to wed, when Ganymede enters. Nervous that Oliver might be on to her disguise because she fainted, Ganymede tells Orlando that he was pretending. Preoccupied with his disappointment in being able to actualize his love for Rosalind, Orlando tells Ganymede that he can no longer “play at” wooing his love (“For Real”). As Ganymede tells Orlando that she can deliver Rosalind to him, Phoebe and Silvia enter. Phoebe is angry that Ganymede shared the contents of her letter with Silvia and asks her to tell “this youth what ’tis to love” (“Getting Married Tomorrow”). Ganymede stops the whirlpool of desperate lovers demanding resolution and declares that he will deliver up the rightful lover to each pairing tomorrow morning. Everyone dances off, leaving Rosalind alone on stage. She stays up all night reflecting and calling upon Arden for help and guidance (“Rosalind Be Merry – Reprise”). Jaques interrupts her, telling her it's morning and the weddings are about to happen.
Rosalind runs off as Duke Senior and all the lovers enter. Rosalind emerges as herself (“For Real” – Reprise). Together, Orlando and Rosalind make a commitment to love one another exactly for who they are. Phoebe realizes she herself has been “phoebed” and finally sees the true love that has been there all along in Silvia (“You Phoebe Me” – Reprise). Duke Senior and Rosalind are reunited, and as he begins to marry all the couples – Rosalind and Orlando, Celia and Oliver, Touchstone and Andy, and Silvia and Phoebe – they are interrupted by Duke Frederick and his minions brandishing swords. When Duke Frederick sees both his daughter in her wedding dress and his brother, his heart softens; love transforms him and he is reunited with his family (“Under the Greenwood Tree” - Reprise). Duke Frederick returns the crown to his brother Duke Senior and the entire community is healed by forgiveness and love. The couples are married and all are reunited with loved ones (“Still I Will Love”) as vows are exchanged by not just the couples but the entire community. The ceremony is followed by the greatest wedding reception of all time.
As everyone leaves to return to the court, Rosalind and Orlando remain dancing in each other’s arms. Jaques, who has witnessed this entire event, picks up her manifesto once again to try and complete it (“Epilogue: All The World’s A Stage”). As she writes, the newlyweds age as Grandma Rosalind and Grandpa Orlando emerge and then disappear. Back where she started, Jaques—alone with her imagination—completes her manifesto. The next generation appears in LITTLE JAQUES, who takes up the reins and will continue to think us into a brighter future.