VTC's 'As You Like It' marks 25th Shakespeare in the Park


Photo Gallery | Shakespeare in the Park - 'As You Like It' (rehearsals)

BRATTLEBORO -- Playing Orlando in Shakespeare's "As You Like It" in his first leading role, Skyler Heathwaite goes on what he and other cast members call an emotional rollercoaster.

At one point, he comes onstage with a bunch of love poems overcome with love for the female lead, Rosalind.

"We've hammed it up a bit. I get to rush around and be a lot more goofy than I am in the rest of the play, which is a lot of what I do naturally," said Heathwaite. "I do voices and screw around a lot."

This production will mark the 25th annual Shakespeare in the Park event put on by the Vermont Theatre Company. It will run from today through Sunday, starting at 6 p.m. at Living Memorial Park. It will be held rain or shine. However, if the rain is more than a sprinkle, a performance may be canceled.

The 25-year-old Heathwaite was cast in several other productions in minor roles starting in 2008. He said this experience was more of an increase in something he already knew how to do. He was part of a 10 minute play festival -- in West Chesterfield, N.H., in 2012 -- where he was one of four people onstage. He studied drama at Brattleboro Union High School but this will be his first time in the leading male role.

"There's been a fair amount of constructive advice," said Heathwaite. "There hasn't really been any snideness or ego bashing."

Director Adrienne Major, a professor at Landmark College, will take the reins again this year. It will be her fifth time directing one of the Shakespeare plays at the Brattleboro park. She chose "As You Like It" because it is one of her favorites of the playwright's comedies.

"The play is a really quick transition from the court, which is the first act, to the forest, which is the rest of the play. And so, in order to emphasize some of the constraint of the court, we put everyone into suits," said Major. "The only differentiation between men and women is this little purple eye veil that the women all wear."

For the second part of the play, Major asked where people can run away to, dress up and pretend to be someone else in today's world?

"They can go to a medieval fair," she said. "That will give us a chance to haul out all sorts of costumes."

Some of the most exciting scenes have to do with choreography done by Jodi Clark, where there is fighting and wrestling involved.

Much of the backdrop is a stylized forest with painted trees. The cast largely assisted with its design.

Major's getting the director spot prompted Katy Emond to want to join the production. She will play Rosalind.

"When Adrienne (Major) directs, I try to make myself available," said Emond. "I put on four shows a year so it's hard to do community theater."

This will be the first time Emond, an English teacher who runs the drama program at Bellows Falls Union High School, will play a leading role for Shakespeare in the Park. She has previously played the ingenue and began performing in the events back in 1996 with "Much Ado About Nothing."

Although she's loved every Shakespeare in the Park show she was cast in, Emond said this year's production is a very fun show.

"We have a very diverse cast," she added. "It's pretty cool age and experience wise. I think it's a great experience for kids to work with adults."

Heathewait told the Reformer of a scene where Emond pretends to be a man.

"She really pushes Orlando's buttons," he said. "I have to be a good foil there."

One of Emond's former students at Bellows Falls, Emma Moyna, will play four different roles including Le Beau, Amiens, Jacquelyn De Boys and another character without a name. It will be her first time performing in the event as well as calling Emond by her first name, which she was excited about.

According to Major, Moyna saved the production by joining it late and taking on several roles. Locally, there are a lot of other productions going on so it was difficult to find a full cast.

Other cast members include Veda Crewe as Duke Senior, Josh Emond as Oliver, Jason Guerina as Silvius, Michael Jerald as Charles and Audrey, Kate Maisner as Celia, Elizabeth McCollum as Cora, Tyler Latulippe-Haselton as Phebe, Art Pettee as Adam, Cristen Rosinski as Touchstone, Sean Whelan as First Lord and Robert Wellington as Duke Frederick and Jacques.

Tickets are $5. Children under six are free. To learn more, visit vermonttheatrecompany.com.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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