Clarksburg's Vintage Theatre Company announces schedule for traveling Shakespeare troupe

By Local News | April 21, 2017
The state’s only Shakespeare troupe will launch its first statewide tour of 2017 at the end of April.
Vintage Theatre Company Founding Producer and Artistic Director Jason A. Young cordially invites audiences to attend a performance of The Rustic Mechanicals’ Ancient Grudge Tour of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.
Revenge, love, and a secret marriage force star-crossed young lovers Romeo and Juliet to grow up quickly while an ancient and bloody feud rages between their families. Shakespeare’s masterpiece is the world’s most produced play.
The Rustic Mechanicals, founded by Celi Oliveto, is the state’s only professional Shakespeare troupe. Touring three shows annually, their first show of 2017 begins its tour with a Shakespeare weekend at Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, West Virginia. Building on their successful partnership with last year’s First Folio Tour, The Rustic Mechanicals, Oglebay Institute, and The Folger Shakespeare Library have created an incredible weekend celebration of the Bard.
“We really think there is something brewing for Shakespeare in Wheeling,” said Young. “Last year’s First Folio events were fantastic, and with the creation of this entire weekend of events this year, this could be the start of a great annual Shakespeariance.”
The Shakespeare weekend begins with three educational performances for Ohio County students on Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21.
The troupe’s second annual West Virginia Youth Shakespeare Competition, or as they refer to it, The Battle of the Bard, will take place at Triadelphia Middle School during the morning and afternoon hours on Saturday, April 22. Students from across the state will compete in different categories of performance of Shakespeare pieces. New this year, and running simultaneously with the competition, The Folger Shakespeare Library from Washington, D.C., will be offering a workshop for West Virginia educators on the use of Shakespeare in the classroom.
Saturday concludes with a free performance of Romeo & Juliet for all students and teachers that attended the competition and workshop.
The Shakespeare weekend wraps up with a free public matinee at 2:00 p.m. at The Troy Theatre on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. A reception to celebrate the Bard’s birthday will follow the performance.
“A lot of different people of a lot of different ages are going to see our work in Wheeling,” said Young. “Obviously, we need it to be a home run. That was probably the primary factor in us choosing Romeo & Juliet.”
The second weekend of The Ancient Grudge Tour kicks off with more educational performances, this time for Buckhannon-Upshur High School on Thursday, April 27. The Mechanicals will then head to the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre in Beckley on Friday, April 28 for a public performance that will be followed by a ShakesBEER reception at Sir Walters Tavern. The troupe then returns to Mountaineer Country for two Bard & BBQ dinner theatre performances on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30 at Morgantown’s Monongalia Arts Center.
The final weekend of the tour begins with a fundraising performance for The GFWC Bridgeport Junior Women’s Club’s Feed Our Future Harrison County Backpack Program at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 4 at The VTC Cabaret in Clarksburg.
The troupe is then off to Buckhannon and Thomas on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6 respectively before finishing the tour back at their home venue, The VTC Cabaret inside the Uptown Event Center, in Clarksburg on Sunday, May 7. 
“This is our largest tour to date,” said Young. “We will be performing Romeo & Juliet fourteen times in eighteen days. It will be a great challenge for our troupe, which has grown this year as well.”
The Rustic Mechanicals, now in their fourth season, have grown from a troupe of seven actors to this year boasting a roster of twenty-five West Virginia artists.
Travis Teffner and Kayla Hudimac headline this production as Romeo and Juliet. James Matthews and Samantha Huffman play Lord and Lady Capulet with Trina Byard as the Nurse and Lord Montague. Celi Oliveto is taking on the role of Benvolia. Steve McElroy will be seen as Mercutio and Josh Brooks as the fiery Tybalt. Rounding out the cast is John Fallon as Friar Laurence and Lady Montague, Justin Grow as the Prince and Paris, and Sarah Young in several walk-on roles.
Young and Oliveto direct the production with Technical Direction by David Byard, Production Design by Trina Byard, Production Management by Sarah Young, Fight Choreography by James Ricks, and Dramaturgy by John Shirley.
“We have a wonderful team working on this show, maybe the most complete team we have ever had,” said Young. “The cast is fearless and smart, and they handle the balance of comedy and tragedy that this script demands.”
For more information about The Ancient Grudge Tour of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, email 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.”

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