Clarksburg, WV – West Virginia’s only Shakespeare troupe will launch its first statewide tour of 2019 next month.
Vintage Theatre Company’s Founding Producer and Artistic Director Jason A. Young cordially invites audiences to attend a performance of The Rustic Mechanicals’ Truth is Truth tour of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.
Existing somewhere between comedy and tragedy, the story takes place in Virginia, which has become a hovel for brothels and promiscuous behavior. The Duke–reluctant to wield his power to clean up the city–leaves, transferring the responsibility to his deputy, Angelo. Angelo soon starts implementing harsh and radical changes. Young Claudio finds himself afoul of an ancient law when he gets his love Juliet pregnant. Angelo sentences him to death for his crime of fornicating out of wedlock. Claudio’s friend Lucio meets with Claudio’s sister Isabella and pleads with her to change Angelo’s mind. Thus begins a plot of intrigue and mistaken identity.
“At its core Measure for Measure is a play about when women speak up, men in power don’t believe them,” said Young. “I feel like the time has come for us to tell this story.”
The Rustic Mechanicals, founded by Celi Oliveto, is the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. Touring three shows annually, their first show of 2019 begins its tour at the troupe’s home, The VTC Cabaret, in Clarksburg, WV.
“It is always nice when we can debut our shows in some friendly confines,” said Young. “We are also very excited about the new dinner theatre tradition we are offering for opening night.”
Audiences will have their first opportunity to see the show on Thursday, April 4 at a “Pay-What-You-Will Preview.” The doors will open at 7:00 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m. There is no set ticket price for this performance. Audience members are encouraged to decide what they can give to support the troupe and this performance.
The troupe’s annual season opening night “Shakespeareance” will take place on Friday, April 5. Fifty lucky audience members will be treated to a gourmet dinner catered by Mike Costello and Amy Dawson of Lost Creek Farm, a pre-show Q&A with members of the creative team, a live performance of Measure for Measure, and a post-show dessert meet-and-greet reception with the audience and company.
Reservations are required for the “Shakespeareance”, and there are only 50 tickets available. The menu includes Woodland Mushroom Pate on Salt-Rising Toast with Garlic Aioli and Garden Herbs; Venison Sausage Hand-Pie with Sorghum Syrup and Turnip Chow Chow; Hickory-Chicory Chicken or Apple-Spruce Pork Roulade and Creamy Grits with Early Ramps, Sorghum-Smoked Carrots, and Kilt Garden Greens; and Dandelion Vinegar Pie with Maple Whipped Cream for dessert.
Tickets are $50. Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. with curtain at 8:00 p.m. and the reception immediately following the performance.
The first weekend of tour will conclude with a performance on Saturday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the Wallman Hall Theatre at Fairmont State University. This performance is FREE and open to the public and will feature a post-show talk back with those audience members wishing to stay.
The second weekend of The Truth is Truth tour will take the troupe to Buckhannon and Elkins for one night engagements and then on to Morgantown for two performances, before concluding with a Sunday matinee in Wheeling.
The Mechanicals will take the stage of the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts at West Virginia Wesleyan College for another FREE performance on Wednesday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. This performance will also feature a post-show talk back for those audience members wishing to stay.
“We really feel like this play, and specifically our production of this play, is going to resonate on college campuses,” says Young. “The content, and our take, is a truly wonderful reflection of so many issues our world is facing today.”
From Buckhannon the Mechanicals head to Elkins for a rare spring performance in a very familiar venue, the Arts Center of Randolph County. The doors will open on Thursday, April 11 at 6:45 p.m. with the curtain at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this performance are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Friday, April 12 and Saturday, April 13 take the Mechanicals to another familiar venue, the Monongalia Arts Center on High Street in Morgantown. Both performances will begin at 8:00 p.m. with the house opening thirty minutes prior. Tickets to those performances are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.
The Mechanicals will finish up their five performance second weekend at the historic Towngate Theatre in Wheeling with a 3:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 14. All tickets are $10.
The final weekend of the Truth is Truth tour sends the troupe into the Potomac Highlands before finishing back in Clarksburg.
Eastern Community and Technical College in Moorefield will be hosting a tour stop at McCoy’s Grand Theatre on Main Street on Thursday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. before the troupe returns to The Indie on Main in Keyser on Friday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m. Thursday evening’s performance is free admission with donations being accepted for the Eastern Community and Technical College Foundation. Tickets for the Keyser performance on Friday evening are $12 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.
The Mechanicals will give their final performance of Measure for Measure back home at The VTC Cabaret in Clarksburg on Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. This performance will be a “Pay-What-You-Will” finale where once again audience members can decide what they are able to give to the troupe in exchange for seeing the show and supporting the mission.
“It is a slightly shorter tour than we are used to,” said Young. “But we are still very excited to be visiting all of these communities, some we have been to many times and some brand new.”
The Rustic Mechanicals, now in their sixth season, have grown from a troupe of seven actors to this year boasting a roster of over forty West Virginia artists.
Sarah Smith headlines the production in the role of Isabella.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to play Isabella. It’s challenging to portray a character with such unwavering moral convictions,” said Smith. “I’m most excited to show Isabella’s wit, courage, and fierce determination in the face of a world that finds her fragile.”
Audiences will also see James Matthews as the Duke, Daniel Crowley as Angelo, Sean Marko as Claudio and Sarah Young as his fiancé Juliet. Justin Grow takes on the role of the foppish Lucio, while troupe newcomers Casey Johnson and Brandon Rose will be seen as the Provost and Escalus. Cassandra Noel Hackbart will play the clever bawd Mistress Overdone as well as Sister Francisca, while Jason A. Young portrays the bawd’s tapster Pompey. Kaici Lore will be seen as Mariana and a servant with Isaac Covey appearing as a Gentleman, Elbow, and Barnardine, and Joshua Brooks covering five roles: the Friar, Froth, an Officer, a Messenger, and Abhorrson.
Measure of Measure is directed by kb saine alongside Associate Director Celi Oliveto with Production Design by Trina Byard, Hair & Make-Up Design by Samanatha Huffman, Sound Design by bri conley, Technical Direction by David Byard, Dramaturgy by John Shirley, and Production Management by Sarah Young, with Bridget Esterhuizen serving as the troupe’s Voice Coach, Dylan Morrison Myers as the troupe’s Text Coach, and Tommy Schoffler as the troupe’s Movement Coach.
“I’ve been really impressed with Vintage’s growth in the past few years and have been looking forward to the time when I would be asked to direct for them,” said saine. “When Jason approached me about Measure for Measure, I jumped at the chance to bring such a relevant story to stages all across West Virginia.”
For more information about The Truth is Truth tour of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, email VintageTheatreCo@gmail.com or call 1-855-VTC-8588.
“Touring Shakespeare is a 400-year-old-tradition,” said Young. “These troupe members understand the nobility of the work and the heritage that they are a part of. I fully expect this tour to be a labor of love for us all.”