Arts, Dining & Entertainment

BarnArts opens summer youth theater with ‘Shrek the Musical’

Aug. 6-9 at 6:30 p.m.—BARNARD— BarnArts pushed its summer youth theater program entirely outdoors this year, in order to keep the program alive for its 9th season with a production of “Shrek Jr,” taking place Aug. 6-9 at Feast & Field in Barnard.  Twenty-seven area youth (ages 7-16) gathered and rehearsed on the soccer field behind Barnard Academy for the first two weeks, and moved to the production site, the original Feast & Field location on the conserved Clark Farm in Barnard, 1544 Royalton Turnpike. Thursday night’s preview is at 6:30 p.m. Shows are 6:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat., and 2 p.m. Sat. and Sun.  Tickets are $8-12.  More info and tickets are available at barnarts.org.

BarnArts Summer Youth Theater Artistic Director, Linda Treash, was in constant dialogue with her production team all spring as they brainstormed solutions to the need for social distancing and debated the huge question of how to make musical theater safe.  “I felt this program was too important to these kids to cancel, when so much has been taken away from them this year,” said Treash.

“Luckily, in June it became clear Vermont was keeping the virus under control and that kids were poor vectors, especially outdoors. We studied the state camp guidelines and felt we could safely hold the camp outdoors by managing both social distancing and by creating a pod of safety around the camp.”  Parents signed a contract confirming they would follow the governor’s guidelines on travel restrictions and mask wearing.

Starring in this year’s production is 13-year-old Alex Hoyt of Tunbridge as the ogre Shrek. Hoyt is in his 3rd year with BarnArts Summer Youth Theater and has also performed at Northern Stage (“Matilda” and “Sound of Music”), Chandler Arts & ArtisTree.  14-year-old Tamsin Mueller plays the tough (but confused) Fiona.  Mueller lives in Massachusetts, but spends her summers in Woodstock and has been part of BarnArts SYT for 5 years.  Newcomber Tanner Dickerson, age 13 from Hartford, is cast as the wise-cracking donkey, Shrek’s sidekick.  14-year old Monet Nolan of Hartford plays the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad, and 16-year-old Adrienne Rebecca Guss plays the Dragon.

Other cast members include Annabelle Park (Dwarf/Sugar Plum Fairy), Asa Crowley (Thelonius/White Rabbit), Ben Rumelt (Papa Ogre/Papa Bear), Caeden Perreault (Storyteller), Coco Mueller (Pig), Django Farinas (Big Bad Wolf), Finn Leland (Storyteller), Fiona Strehle (Teen Fiona), Grace Perreault (Pig/Young Fiona), Harriet Crowley (Tinkerbell), Issy Cellini (Storyteller), Jada Ruch (Ugly Duckling), Katherine Waterman (Captain of the Guards), Killian Ruch (Little Ogre/Baby Bear), Lia Hammond (Pinocchio), Marlena Farinas (Gingy), Melanie McGuckin (Mad Hatter), Millie Mueller (Pig), Nick Cellini (Peter Pan), Phoebe Anderson (Wicked Witch), Sola Minotti (Mama Ogre/Mama Bear).

Most of the cast of “Shrek” returns every year to be part of BarnArts Summer Youth Theater. “We only have five new families this year,” said Treash, “and all others are returning kids or new siblings joining. We are all about building community and offering local youth an accepting and fun group to join.

“We are excited for what we’ve been able to do with these committed and hardworking kids!  There have been necessary compromises to the staging, but the outdoor setting is beautiful under the maple trees at Feast & Field, and this particular play lends itself well to spaced-out staging.”

The “Shrek” production team includes director Emma Rose Brooks, music director Carol Cronce, choreographer Gabrielle Confer, costume designer Murray Ngoima and Linda Treash is the set designer as well as producer.

The stage and audience space is on a grassy lawn with plenty of space for social distancing. Some chairs will be available, but blankets and camp chairs are welcome.  Masks are required in the performance area and at the entrance.

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