West Virginia’s only Shakespeare troupe will launch its first statewide tour of 2018 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’ Naked Villainy Tour of William Shakespeare’s Richard III.
Shakespeare’s immortal tale of ambition, lust, and murderous treachery will be brilliantly updated and brought to life by The Rustic Mechanicals this spring. A savage civil war between two royal families has just concluded. But even as the newly installed King Edward takes the reins of power, his ruthless younger brother Richard sets in motion a monstrous scheme to claim the crown for himself. Enlisting the aid of equally duplicitous allies in the court, Richard embarks on a merciless, single-minded campaign of betrayal, seduction, and cold-blooded murder to achieve the goal that has obsessed him all of his tortured life.
The Rustic Mechanicals, founded by Celi Oliveto, is the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. Touring three shows annually, their first show of 2018 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 option we are offering for opening night.”
Audiences will have their first opportunity to see the show on Thursday, April 12 at a “Pay-What-You-Will Preview.” The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:00 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 first ever opening night “Shakespeareance” will take place on Friday, April 13. 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 Richard III, and a post-show dessert meet-and-greet reception with the audience and company.
Reservations are required for this event, and there are only 50 tickets available. The menu includes stuffed cranberry apple roasted pork loin, lemon garlic roasted chicken, roasted root veggies, golden mashed potatoes, a savory caramelized onion bread pudding, salad, homemade bread, fresh fruit, cheese, and vegetable starters.
Tickets are $75 for a couple or $40 for an individual. Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m., with curtain at 8:00 p.m., and the reception immediately following the show.
The first weekend of the tour will conclude with performances on Saturday, April 14 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 15 at 2:00 p.m. at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown, WV. Tickets for the troupe’s MAC performances are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.
The second weekend of The Naked Villainy Tour takes the troupe to the northern panhandle with educational performances at Wheeling Park High School and Brooke High School as well as public performances at The Striplight Theatre in Weirton, WV and Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV.
“This is a big weekend for us,” said Young. “We have five shows in four days and our second straight Shakespeare’s birthday show on Sunday.”
The Striplight Theatre on Main Street in Weirton welcomes the Mechanicals on Friday, April 20 and Saturday, April 21 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets for these performances are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.
The troupe will then celebrate Shakespeare’s 454th birthday with a post-show reception after their Sunday, April 22 matinee at 2:00 p.m. at the Troy Theatre on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. This performance and the reception are FREE to all audience members.
The Naked Villainy Tour’s final weekend takes the troupe to the Potomac Highlands with educational and public performances at Hampshire High School in Romney, WV and a public performance at the Indie on Main in Keyser, WV.
The Hampshire Arts Council will host the Mechanicals on Friday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m. at Hampshire County High School in Romney, WV. Tickets are $10 for this performance.
The troupe will then head to Keyser on Saturday, April 28 for an 8:00 p.m. performance at The Indie on Main. Tickets in Keyser are $12 for adults and $7 for students.
“This will mark our first full weekend the troupe has had in the Potomac Highlands,” said Young. “We have never been to Romney or Keyser, so that is exciting; and we are still working on finding ways to maybe visit some other communities in the region for some other special events.”
The Rustic Mechanicals, now in their fifth season, have grown from a troupe of seven actors to this year boasting a roster of nearly thirty West Virginia artists.
Joshua Brooks headlines the production in the eponymous role of Richard III.
“Playing villains is always the most fun, but there’s an inherent challenge in finding and conveying their humanity,” said Brooks. “With a character like Richard III, the challenge is even greater because he possesses no discernible shreds of decency, compassion, empathy, or restraint: a true sociopath.”
Audiences will also see Daniel Crowley as Buckingham, Isaac Covey as Catesby, Sean Marko as Lord Hastings, Bailey Kershner as Queen Margaret, Kayla Hudimac as Queen Elizabeth, and Samantha Huffman as the Duchess of York. James Matthews will be seen as Clarence and the Cardinal; while John O’Connor will be portraying King Edward, the Lord Mayor of London, and the Archbishop; and Travis Teffner will be playing Rivers and Richmond. Rounding out the cast is Sarah Young as Lady Anne and Tyrrel, and Kyle Stemple as Prince Edward and several other roles.
Oliveto directs the production with Technical Direction by David Byard, Production Design by Trina Byard, Fight Choreography by Cliff Williams and Dylan Myers, Dramaturgy by John Shirley, and with Tommy Schoffler serving as the production’s Movement Coach.
“It’s an honor to work with such talented, dedicated individuals,” said Oliveto. “This show requires actors to put themselves in really difficult situations emotionally. To tell this story, people need to perform outrageous, almost fantastical situations, but root all their emotional content and behavior in reality. It’s a challenging piece, and I’m grateful that these mechanicals are more than up to the challenge.”
For more information about The Naked Villainy Tour of William Shakespeare’s Richard III, 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.”