The state’s only Shakespeare troupe will launch its third annual West Virginia Shakespeare in the Parks tour this July.
Vintage Theatre Company Founding Producer and Artistic Director Jason A. Young cordially invites audiences to attend a performance of The Rustic Mechanicals’ Midsummer Madness Tour of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.
The Rustic Mechanicals, under the direction of Celi Oliveto, are the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. Touring three shows annually, their second show of 2016 begins its tour on July 8 at 7:00 p.m. at The High Gate Carriage House in Fairmont, West Virginia.
Tickets for the July 8 kick-off show are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins promptly at 7:00 p.m.
“Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s beloved comedies,” said Young. “The perfect show for some summer Shakespeare under the stars.”
The play centers on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola, disguised as a boy for protection, falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with the Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man. Hilarity, riotous disorder, and musical interludes then ensue in keeping with the title’s reference to an evening of entertainment during the Christmas season.
The Rustic Mechanicals’ production features troupe director Celi Oliveto as Viola, Steve McElroy as Sebastian, Jeremiah Smallridge as Orsino, and Gretchen Ross as Olivia. Doug Seckman is taking on the iconic role of Feste the Clown, with Kaici Lore as Maria, Isaac Covey as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and Jason A. Young as Sir Toby Belch. Rounding out the cast are Michael Vozniak as Malvolio and Aaron Harris as Antonio.
However, for the first time in the young troupe’s first three seasons, a Rustic Mechanicals’ production is being directed by someone other than Celi Oliveto or Jason A. Young. The Rustic Mechanicals have welcomed a guest artist to Clarksburg to helm this summer’s show.
James Ricks, originally from Canada, and currently of Richmond, Virginia, is the former artistic director of the Henley Street Theatre. Trained at Washington D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy of Classical Acting, he is a former member of the awarding-winning American Shakespeare Center’s touring and resident companies. Most recently James has served as a guest and an adjunct professor at Davis & Elkins College and West Virginia Wesleyan College.
“This is actually the second time that James has worked with the Mechanicals,” said Young. “He was our fight choreographer for last fall’s production of Macbeth, so we know James is great at creating exciting violence.”
Far less violent, this summer James will be tasked with bringing one of Shakespeare’s most popular, fastest, wildest, and funniest comedies of revelry and mistaken identities to life in indoor and outdoor venues across the state.
“I think the reason this play is performed so often lies in its perfect blend of heartfelt romance, memorable characters, and unabashed rowdiness,” said Ricks.
After opening night, The Midsummer Madness Tour will have six additional performances throughout the month of July. The troupe will be at the Ferguson Park Performance Center in Shinnston, West Virginia at 7:00 p.m. on July 9, 2016 and then at The M.T. Pockets Theatre Company in Morgantown, West Virginia on Sunday, July 10, 2016 for a 2:00 p.m. matinee to complete the first weekend.
The tour will pick back up at the Weirton Event Center in Weirton, West Virginia at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, 2016, and the second weekend of the tour concludes with a trip to Toad Hall in Grafton, West Virginia at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 17, 2016.
The Mechanicals will then finish off their Midsummer Madness Tour with a encore at Shinnston’s Ferguson Park Performance Center on July 23, 2016 before their closing performance at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 24, 2016 at St. Albans City Park in St. Albans, West Virginia.
“These actors are undertaking the 400-year-old tradition of touring the ‘countryside’ and performing to communities that might not normally get a chance to see live Shakespeare performed,” said Ricks. “The actors understand and honor that tradition and are definitely jumping into the work head first. It’s very exciting.”
For more information about The Midsummer Madness Tour, email VintageTheatreCo@gmail.com or call 1-855-VTC-8588.
“This is a very big thing for us as a company and as a troupe,” added Young. “Having someone of James’ quality in our rehearsal room and interacting with us on this level can only raise the bar of our work, and we are excited for our audiences statewide to get a chance to see the show.”