FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: State’s Only Shakespeare Troupe Will Embark on Their 6th Annual West Virginia Shakespeare in the Park(s) Tour this July
Vintage Theatre Company’s Founding Producer and Artistic Director Jason A. Young cordially invites audiences to attend a performance of The Rustic Mechanicals’ Laugh and Let Go Tour of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Shakespeare’s popular romantic comedy stirs wit, sentiment, intrigue, and love into a charming confection which challenges the traditional rules of romance. At its heart, a feisty but feminine Rosalind, in love with the endearingly naïve Orlando, uses her disguise as Ganymede to council him playfully in the art of wooing. Distraction is provided by the remarkably funny Touchstone, and the sonorous tones and lugubrious wit of Jaques.
“At its core As You Like It is a romantic comedy,” said Young. “And while it does explore some deeper philosophical ideas about the importance of slowing down and enjoying life, it is a light, humorous romp through the Forest of Arden; perfect summer fare.”
The Rustic Mechanicals, co-founded by Young and Celi Oliveto, is the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. Touring three shows annually, this is the sixth year for their West Virginia Shakespeare in the Park(s) touring program.
Audiences will have their first opportunity to see the show at the Ronceverte Island Park Amphitheatre in Ronceverte, West Virginia. The show begins at 7:00p.m. and admission is Pay-What-You-Will. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs, as well as picnics and snacks.
“We have never played this venue before,” said Young. “It is a beautiful performance space right on the river that will prove a perfect setting to open our pastoral comedy.”
The troupe then takes their production of As You Like Itto the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton, West Virginia. Curtain time at this stop along the West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail is 7:30p.m. and tickets are $10 with all students 17 years of age and younger being admitted for free.
The Mechanicals will also be presenting a workshop for area students at the Opera House during the day prior to the show. The workshop is called “Shakespeare’s Heartbeat” and focuses on the Bard’s use of verse in all of his plays.
The first weekend of tour will conclude with a performance on Sunday, July 7 at 2:00 p.m. in the Governor Hulett C. Smith Theatre at The Tamarack in Beckley, West Virginia. This is a ticketed performance as part of The Tamarack’s Sunday at 2 series.
The second weekend of The Laugh and Let Go tour will take the troupe to Morgantown, Philippi, and Grafton.
The Mechanicals will play the penthouse of the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia on Thursday, July 11 and Friday, July 12, 2019. Tickets for this performance are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors and may be purchased online via EventBrite.
“Another new venue for us, but what an experience for an audience to see a Shakespeare play in the penthouse of an incredible hotel,” says Young. “It will be an intimate performance much like how Shakespeare’s troupe used to perform in the courts of the royals.”
From Morgantown the Mechanicals head to Philippi, West Virginia for a Shakespeareance performance at the historic Adaland Mansion.
Fifty lucky audience members will be treated to a gourmet dinner, a pre-show Q&A with members of the creative team, a live performance of As You Like It, and a post-show wine-and-cheese meet-and-greet reception with the troupe.
Reservations are required for this event, and there are only 50 tickets available. The menu includes basked steak with sauce, baked chicken with dressing, pasta with sauce, tossed salad with homemade dressing, homemade rolls and bread, parsley buttered potatoes, cabbage with noodles, green beans, mixed steamed vegetables with butter, and six different kinds of homemade desserts.
Dinner will begin at 6:00p.m., with curtain at 7:00p.m., and the reception immediately following the show. Tickets are $40.00 per person plus a 10% historic preservation fee. Reservations are required and limited to 10 per caller. Reservations of six or more must be paid in advance. For reservations call 304-457-1587 or 304-457-2415.
The Mechanicals will finish up their second weekend at Toad Hall in Grafton, West Virginia on Sunday, July 14 at 7:00p.m. This is another free performance thanks to the generosity of All Aboard Grafton and the Buffalo Flats Artists Association.
The third weekend of the Laugh and Let Go tour has the troupe crisscrossing the state, beginning the weekend in the Metro-Valley, before returning to Mountaineer Country, only to conclude in the Potomac Highlands.
The Mechanicals will spend two days in Montgomery, West Virginia first offering one of their unique Speak the Speech Shakespeareaoke events followed the next evening by a performance of As You Like It.
Its BYOB (Bring Your Own Bard) on Thursday, July 18 at Ludoria’s Restaurant in Montgomery, West Virginia as members of The Rustic Mechanicals will be on hand to share speeches and scenes penned by the immortal William Shakespeare. Speak the Speech is an interactive, open mic style, spoken word event that centers around the work of William Shakespeare. The troupe will have material on hand for audience members to perform in our unique and interactive Shakespeareaoke format. Audience members should also feel free to bring their own Shakespeare pieces to present.
“Ludoria’s is shutting the restaurant down for us and treating this like a private event,” said Young. “Audience members will be purchasing tickets for the buffet dinner, but it is always absolutely free to perform some Shakespeareaoke.”
As You Like It will play the Park on 4th& Main the following evening, Friday, July 19 at 7:00p.m. The Shakespeare Studio of Montgomery is providing this performance free of charge. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own chairs.
From Montgomery the troupe returns to the beautiful riverside amphitheater in Palatine Park in Fairmont, West Virginia on Saturday, July 20, 2019. An earlier than normal curtain has the show beginning at 6:00p.m. This performance is free thanks to the generosity of the Marion County Commission and Marion County Parks and Recreation.
The third weekend of The Laugh and Let Go tour concludes in Elkins, West Virginia at the Elkins Town Square Amphitheater. This free performance is being made possible by the generosity of Davis & Elkins College.
“Elkins is a very familiar community to us,” said Young. “However, this venue is new. I can’t wait to be in the middle of town while the energy of Augusta is buzzing. We are very grateful to D&E for making this happen.”
The fourth and final weekend of The Laugh and Let Go tour begins and ends in Harrison County with a trip to Putnam County in the middle.
As You Like Itwill play the amphitheater at Ferguson Memorial Park in Shinnston on Thursday, July 25 and 26 at 7:00p.m. The City of Shinnston is once again making these performances free to audiences.
“Shakespeare in the Park(s) started in Shinnston because of the vision of Reuben Perdue,” said Young. “We have played this venue every summer now for six years. It feels like our home away from home.”
Saturday, July 27 takes the troupe to Hurricane, West Virginia for a 7:00p.m. curtain at the large pavilion at Valley Park. This free performance is due to the generosity of the Putnam County Library, the Putnam County CVB, and the Putnam County Parks & Recreation Commission. Audiences are once again encouraged to bring their own chairs.
The Mechanicals will give their final performance of As You Like It back home in Clarksburg on Sunday, July 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Clarksburg Amphitheater in Veterans Park. This performance is free and seating is provided.
“This is the longest tour in the troupe’s history,” said Young. “We are playing four weekends instead of three and visiting a total of 12 venues and six of them are brand new for us.”
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.
Bridget Rue Esterhuizen headlines the production in the role of Rosalind.
“Rosalind is funny, smart, creative, fierce, unpredictable, and utterly real,” said Esterhuizen. “She gets to tackle gender norms, love vulnerably, and experience romance, friendship, and being a daughter. She is utterly contemporary, yet written by Shakespeare.”
Audiences will also see Sean Marko as Rosalind’s suitor Orlando, Sarah Young as Celia, and Daniel Crowley as Celia’s fool Touchstone. Jason A Young appears as the melancholy Jaques and the lovelorn shepherd Silvius with Cassandra Noel Hackbart playing the object of Silvius’ affection Phoebe as well as Amiens and Duke Frederick. Duke Senior is played by Steve McElroy who you will also be seen as Corin and Charles the Wrestler, while Sarah Beth Ealy will be seen as Audrey and Le Beau. Michael Vozniak as Oliver and Callia Byard as Adam, William, Sir Oliver Martext, Hymen, and Jacques de Boys round out the cast.
As You Like It is directed by Jim Warren with Fight Direction by Cliff Williams, Technical Direction by David Byard, Costume Design by Jason Noland, Hair & Make-Up Design by Samantha Huffman, Dramaturgy by John Shirley, and Production Management by Haley Wilson. Sarah Young serves as the troupe’s Company Manager with Bridget Rue Esterhuizen as the Voice Coach, Tommy Schoffler as the Movement Coach, and Dylan Morrison Myers as the Text Coach.
“I am thrilled to return to West Virginia and play with my friends at Vintage,” said Warren. “As You Like It is an enchanting play, filled with wisdom, whimsy, and song. I can’t think of a more delightful play to be the first Rustic Mechanicals’ show I get to direct.”
For more information about The Laugh and Let Go tour of William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, 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.”