FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: West Virginia’s Only Shakespeare Troupe Announces Performance Dates for Upcoming Apprentice Troupe Production

Vintage Theatre Company’s Founding Producer and Artistic Director Jason A. Young cordially invites audiences to a performance of The Rustic Mechanicals’ Apprentice Troupe’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.

We find the community of Messina celebrating a break from an ongoing war. But not all is peaceful amid the revelry, as old rivals engage in a battle of wits, unexpected foes plot revenge, and young lovers are caught in a tumultuous courtship – until love proves the ultimate trickster, and undoes them all. 

The Rustic Mechanicals, co-founded by Celi Oliveto, is the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. The Mechanicals founded the Apprentice Troupe, now in its second year, through the VTC Academy in September of 2017. 

“For years we have been taking the Mechanicals into schools and allowing students to watch us perform the works of William Shakespeare live onstage,” said Young. “It became pretty obvious that it was time for us to start putting students up onstage performing this same amazing work as well.”

Audiences will have the opportunity to see the Apprentice Troupe on Thursday, June 6 at 7:30 p.m. Subsequent performances will take place Friday, June 7 at 3:00 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m.

All performances take place at The VTC Cabaret inside the Uptown Event Center at 305 Washington Ave. in downtown Clarksburg, West Virginia. All tickets are $10, and reservations are required. Tickets can be acquired by emailing 

The Rustic Mechanicals Apprentice Troupe is made up of 12 students from North Central West Virginia who have been meeting for workshops and rehearsals over the last nine months with Young and other members of the Mechanicals’ professional troupe. The apprentices also attended special training sessions on the campuses of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Davis & Elkins College. 

Audiences will see Jordan Kennedy-Rea and Derek Hess, both from Bridgeport High School, as the sparring suitors Beatrice and Benedick.  Wesley Cotter of Bridgeport High School and Bella Smith of North Marion High School play the young lovers Claudio and Hero with Beth O’Neil from Buckhannon-Upshur High School playing Hero’s mother, Leonata. Xavier Evans from South Harrison High School plays the prince Don Pedro while the prince’s brother Don John is played by Ben Long from Notre Dame High School. Don John’s henchmen Conrade and Borachio are played by Hannah Gowarty of Notre Dame High School and home school student Loki Hall. Dogberry, the self-satisfied night constable, is played by Erica Cottrill of Bridgeport High School. McKenzie Fittro of Notre Dame High School plays Margaret, the waiting gentlewoman to Hero; and Callia Byard from Bridgeport High School rounds out the cast as Friar Francis, a watchman, and a messenger. 

Young directs the production with Technical Direction by David Byard and Production Design by Trina Byard. 

“It’s an honor to work with such talented, dedicated individuals,” said Young. “This show requires actors to perform with great energy and focus. It is inspirational to watch these students engage with Shakespeare’s language and bring it to life in their own way.”

For more information about The Rustic Mechanicals Apprentice Troupe Production of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, email or call 1-855-VTC-8588.

“Performing Shakespeare is a 400-year-old-tradition,” said Young. “I hope these apprentice troupe members understand the nobility of the work and the heritage that they are a part of and the impact they are currently making on our state.”

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