Double your money for twice the fun!
A Great Show and A Great Cause!
All the proceeds of Storytellers On A Mission will be matched by an anonymous donor and go to benefit NEYT! Get your tickets now, before this show sells out.
New England Youth Theatre has been selected by Rita Ramirez, Elizabeth Catlin,Tom Bodett and Rich Korson, founders of The Hatch, to benefit from their next big fundraiser at The Latchis, STORYTELLERS ON A MISSION!
The Hatch is a nonprofit that produces live events, featuring nationally renowned storytellers, with the goal of supporting worthy social and cultural organizations in the area. In short, The Hatch exists to raise money for good causes and to have fun doing it!
On Thursday November 14, The Hatch will present STORYTELLERS ON A MISSION. Hosted by comedian Tom Shillue, it features the awe-inspiring comic storytellers Brian Babylon, Ophira Eisenberg, Dave Hill, Adam Wade(in a return appearance) and SRSLY with Alexandra Fiber and Danielle Gibson. These fine artists have been regularly featured on The Moth, NPR Shows, Comedy Central and more!
The proceeds will be matched one-to-one by an anonymous donor and go to eliminate NEYT's mortgage. Seats are $60, $40 and $25. Tickets are available online at neyt.org or in person/by phone at the NEYT Box Office, Mon-Fri Noon-4:00 pm. Click HERE to buy tickets now!
Special SPONSORSHIPS are available for $1000! A sponsorship includes two tickets to STORYTELLERS ON A MISSION, two tickets to NEYT's holiday production of OLIVER! and an expression of our gratitude in the evening's program. Potential sponsors are encouraged to call NEYT Development Director Naomi Shafer at 802-275-7596.
Find out more about our great storytellers at
hatchvt.org or on the HATCH FACEBOOK PAGE.
September is rich with cinematic connections for the New England Youth
Theatre in Brattleboro, where many of its staff, faculty, students and
alumni are involved with movie projects. We invite you to check out any or
all of these fine films.
Jane Baker is the writer and director of "110 Llandaff", a short film
based on her family and childhood experiences, set in Philadelphia in the
1970s. Starring David Koechner (Todd Packer in NBC's "The Office") and
Paula Pell (comic actress and writer for "30 Rock" and "Saturday Night
Live”), "110 Landaff" has a cast and crew peopled with a wealth of NEYT
students, faculty, alumni and families. Principal shooting of the film
ends on September 15, but you may keep up with the movie's progress on
Facebook or at www.110llandaff.com. Jane directs and teaches at NEYT.
On September 27 at 7:00 pm, there will be a screening at NEYT of "Only
Daughter", a new independent feature film, starring NEYT alumna Emily
Seymour. Along with the film, Writer/Director Aaron Wiederspahn and
Producer Laina Barakat will join the audience and take questions. Emily
will try her best to be there too, negotiating her schedule as a second
year student at the internationally acclaimed Atlantic Acting School,
founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy. Emily has described herself
as a “die-hard NEYT-er since I was nine or ten”. Check out the movie’s
The third panel of this delightful triptych is NEYT alumnus Isaiah
Palmeri. "Second Thought", a film by Isaiah, will be part of the ITVFest
in Dover & Wilmington VT, September 26-28. To have his work accepted at
the ITVFest while still an undergraduate film major at Alfred University
is quite an honor, and we at NEYT are justifiably proud. Isaiah has been
involved in NEYT technical programs for many years, highlighted by a deep
interest in sound design. All of the ITVFest offerings are at
NEYT Students at the Weston Playhouse
Most often, the cast members that assemble in Weston for the season's productions come from New York, L.A., Chicago, or perhaps just off the national tour of a Broadway show. This summer, the stage doors have been opened to five talented young performers from southern Vermont, providing them with an extraordinary opportunity to work with a professional director and crew, and a team of experienced castmates. As Leah Cunningham, 17 of Chester, summed up her time spent so far as an ensemble member in 42ND STREET, "It's amaaaaazing."
This is not Leah's first Playhouse gig. This year, she is playing the part of an aspiring chorus girl; in 2007, she was one of the children in the theatre company's production of THE KING AND I. A senior at Green Mountain High School, Leah has benefited from the instruction of Green Mountain's Music and Drama Director Fritz Wendlandt; the love and support of her parents; and a hefty dose of internal drive.
Joining Leah as an ensemble member of 42ND STREET is Burr & Burton graduate Devin Johnson, who is "beyond thrilled" to be performing in Weston this summer. A Manchester native, Devin recently graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA in Musical Theatre. With a passion for tap-dancing, Devin is a proud member of the show that the critics are loving. As Kevin O'Toole of the Manchester Journal writes, the show is "brimming with jaw-dropping dance routines." And as Leanne Jewitt of Berkshire Fine Arts reports, "The Weston's production hits the mark at every level. It's 'grand, grand, grand' to see this kind of BIG theater masterfully produced on the Weston's intimate stage." Kudos to the young Vermonters who have risen to the occasion and met the challenge.
"While we try to keep the atmosphere positive and friendly, we expect a lot from every member of our cast and crew," offered 42ND STREET director Tim Fort. "The rehearsal schedule has been arduous, the run [August 1 -24] is demanding, and the expectations are extremely high, both internally and from an audience that expects excellence when they come to see a show here."
While the Weston theatre company (which Broadworld.com recently refered to as a "Goliath of summer theatre") is earning a national reputation for excellence, its commitment to its community remains firm. "In some respects, we are branching out in very exciting new directions -- premiering new musicals, hosting artists retreats and so on," offered Resident Producing Director Steve Stettler, "but we value our roots tremendously. We place importance on Community and keep an eye out for talent in our own backyard."
As 42ND STREET carries on its successful run, rehearsals are getting under way for the final MainStage performance at the Weston Playhouse, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD [Aug 29 - Sept 11]. Those who know the story know that there are three crucial roles in the drama which call for young people. While auditions were held with children from near and far, three locals were chosen for the roles of Scout Finch, big brother Jem, and neighbor Dill.
Playing Scout, Atticus Finch's tomboy daughter, whose voice is that of the Pulitzer-prize winning novel, is Kelsey McCoullough, 12, of Rutland Town. Kelsey is very excited to have a part in the Weston production, and owes her casting to years of involvement with both the Rutland Youth Theatre and the Merchants Hall Theatre in Rutland. Playing Jem is AnDrew Foster, 14, of Putney, who built his acting resume at the Saxtons River Playhouse and the New England Youth Theatre. And playing Dill, the curious neighbor, is Isaac Freitas-Eagan, 13, of Guilford, who has also developed his acting skills at the acclaimed New England Youth Theatre.
"When you have a gift, you should share it. So we share The Playhouse stage with ambitious and talented young performers," said Weston's Director of Education and Outreach Jacki Brown, "and they, in turn, can share their gift with our audience. It's a win-win all-around."
Performances of 42ND STREET run August 1 -24. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD runs August 29 - Sept 7. Weston Playhouse, on the Village Green, 12 Park Street, Weston. Tuesdays - Saturdays at 7:30; Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:00; Sundays at 3:00. Tickets can be purchased at The Playhouse Box Office, by telephone at (802) 824-5288, or online at westonplayhouse.org.
Read more about Five Young Vermont Performers Take to the Weston Playhouse Stage by vermont.broadwayworld.com
Tapping Into Local Talent: Southern VT youths light up Weston stage
By David Lampe-Wilson
The theater is often referred to as “the fabulous invalid.” But it hangs on through an ongoing infusion of new audiences and new artists. What keeps theater alive and kicking – at least in Weston, VT – is its closeness to the community, says Steve Stettler, a producing director with Weston Playhouse. “Historically, Weston Playhouse has deep connections with the community… and we are really dedicated to working with and training local youth.”
For the next few weeks, five local youths can be seen on stage at the Weston Playhouse. Two young adults – from Chester and Manchester – are dancing and singing across the stage in the musical 42nd Street. And later this month, three kids – from Putney, Rutland Town and Guilford – are taking on the major children’s roles in Harper Lee’s classic storyTo Kill a Mockingbird.
Stettler cites his own early connections with Weston Playhouse, and Weston’s Young Company, which is made up of recruited college students who perform musical adaptations of popular children’s books, help fill out the casts of each main stage show and perform in the after-show cabarets.
He also supports programs like Weston’s Young Playwrights Project, which helps high school students write one-act plays under the guidance of a guest artist, and the Student Ambassador Program, which gives high schoolers the opportunity to attend the playhouse shows free as well as offering them an insider’s look at the evolution of a professional production, from script read-throughs, backstage tours, technical rehearsals, actor/director talk backs and more.
To fill the roles of young cast members, Weston Playhouse throws out a wide net, checking in with other theater professionals and state youth theaters to discover the most suitable performers available.
“We look for kids with unique skills for their age,” says Stettler. “We are aware that there are a number of local youths who are engaged in the theater and are very responsible. Leah Cunningham (one of the dancers in 42nd Street) is (also) part of our Student Ambassador Program.”
We look for kids with unique skills for their age. We are aware that there are a number of local youths who are engaged in the theater and are very responsible. Steve Stettler producing director The Weston Playhouse
In fact, Cunningham*, a Chester resident and Green Mountain Union High School senior, made her debut on the Weston stage in 2007 as one of the King’s children and the Buddha in The King and I. She’s been dancing since she was 3 — taking lessons in Rutland — as well as performing with the Opera Theatre of Weston.
Cunningham, now 17, says that, as in years past, she hopes to perform in her high school drama and musical this coming year. “I’m very dedicated to the theater [in high school] and the kids really inspire me. Theater has been my main focus ever since I was in The King and I when I was 10,” she says. Along with school and dance classes, she holds down a part-time job at Lisai’s grocery in Chester.
After she graduates from high school, Cunningham says she wants to attend college to study business for the arts and eventually join the Peace Corps, where she hopes she can influence people around the world through theater.
Devin Johnson, a Burr and Burton graduate from Manchester, is also in the 42nd Street chorus and, at age 22, has already performed at the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn, N.Y., and the Surflight Theatre in New Jersey. “Devin is known as a talented actor and dancer,” says Stettler, who keeps his eye open for upcoming local talent.
Johnson is a recent graduate from Montclair State University and holds a BFA in Musical Theater. Once “42nd Street” closes, he plans to move to New York City.
“I hope to continue in [musical theater] and make a career of it,” he says. “I’m going to try to make theater my life.” But he knows it won’t be easy: “I plan to do a lot of auditioning.”
Weighty roles for kids in ‘Mockingbird’
While Johnson and Cunningham have longer experience to draw on, the three youngsters featured in To Kill a Mockingbird may be young, but they are eager and talented, according to Stettler. “We’ve often had kids that had to play pivotal roles in our shows and they’ve always stepped up to the challenge.”
One of those pivotal roles falls to Kelsey McCullough, the 12 year old Rutland Town resident who will portray Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. With several Rutland Youth Theatre productions under her belt, Kelsey is eager for the challenging role. “It’s very exciting. I think it will be a very good experience,” she says. And being on stage is something that’s not totally new to he — or the other youths. “I’m active in Rutland Youth Theatre,” she said, “and was just in Much Ado About Nothing.”
Asked what she thought of To Kill A Mockingbird, Kelsey says, “I was really familiar with the story. It‘s one of my favorite books.” And although she had yet to begin actual rehearsal, she said she has most of dialogue memorized. “I’m looking forward to this, to the experience. It will be great to work with some new, different kids.”
Playing Scout’s brother Jem is Andrew Foster, 14, of Putney, who has been acting since 2007.
Andrew Foster of Putney will play Jem.
He came to the playhouse’s attention through a recommendation by the New England Youth Theatre in Brattleboro.
“I really got into acting through NEYT’s summer camp. I did a couple of melodramas there and enjoyed it,” Andrew says. He has gone on to performing at the Putney Community Center and at the Saxtons River Playhouse. Several weeks before rehearsal, he was already working on his lines in anticipation of working at Weston Playhouse.
Guilford resident Isaac Freitas-Eagan, 13, plays Charles Baker “Dill” Harris, Jem and Scout’s best friend, who visits their hometown in Maycomb, Tenn., every summer. Like Andrew, he’s studied acting at NEYT and has played Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet and Malvolio in Twelfth Night, along with his favorite role – the ghost of Polydorus in Euripedes’ Hecuba. About the character of Dill in To Kill a Mockingbird, Isaac says, “I really like his innocence, He’s such a small person, but [in the play] he grows a lot inside.” Isaac is also looking forward to working with a dialogue coach, saying, “I think it will be a challenge” to learn a Tennessee dialect.
Isaac wants to keep performing. “I love making an audience happy and making them laugh,” he says. In the future, he hopes to be working in television and films.
It is a huge sacrifice for the families. The parents have to be fully committed. Steve Stettler producing director Weston Playhouse
Once the theater season is over at Weston Playhouse, To Kill a Mockingbird will continue on stage with matinees for school children. And the kids in the play will remain on stage (and not in school) through the play’s run. “We’ve had to work with the Department of Education and the Department of Labor to get the OK. And the families have played a pivotal role to make it happen,” says Stettler. “It is a huge sacrifice for the families,” he adds. “The parents have to be fully committed,” and make sure the kids get to and from rehearsals and performances and learn their lines, all, Stettler adds, while keeping it fun for them.
Stettler sees a bright future ahead for Weston Playhouse and the theater in general, as long as area youth continues to be drawn to local stages and have the opportunity to discover the rewards it holds.
*In full disclosure, Leah Cunningham is the daughter of the publisher of this newspaper.