• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Young artists to explore craft of performance on tour

Woodford Theatre Young Artists will have opportunities to explore the craft of performance at different venues in the coming weeks.

The young artists will perform works of Edgar Allen Poe at the Woodford Theatre, but also take the author’s stories to The Kentucky Castle and Woodford County Library. Each performance will invite audiences to join the actors on an immersive experience – making them feel like they’re a part of the story and “experiencing it through the eyes of Edgar Allen Poe himself,” said director Vanessa Becker Weig.

She described The Kentucky Castle as a perfect venue for the Poe Tour, but “we’re doing some really interesting things at the (Woodford) Theatre that we’re really excited about.”

Audiences will see performances of “The Raven,” “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” in the theatre space, but those stories may also take them outdoors and backstage or elsewhere. “So it’s a totally different experience for the audience,” said Weig, Woodford Theatre’s education director.

Luc Vandenbroec, an eighth-grader at Woodford County Middle School, said being involved with the Poe Tour has been a challenging experience. “I have to tap into my dark side, which I don’t do a lot because most musical theatre is upbeat,” he explained.

“We like challenges and doing something different,” he added, “because we like training in all different areas.”

Woodford Theatre Young Artists will also bring interactive stories to a trick or treat trail at The Kentucky Castle (this coming weekend) and elsewhere.

“They’ve been learning what it’s like to be a roaming character,” said Weig of the trick or treat trails. “So they’ve been learning about improv and interacting with kids.”

Kennedy Johnson, a senior at Woodford County High School, said she appreciates this year’s focus on strengthening improvisational skills.

“Especially with the trick or treat trails, none of it’s scripted and it’s all our interpretation of the characters,” she explained. Being able to portray the Mad Hatter on a trick or treat trail has been a lot of fun, but also challenging for Kennedy, she said.

“A lot of kids grew up with the animated version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or the live action version. So I have to find that fine line between the creepier-side of Mad Hatter versus the fun, playful one,” said Kennedy, 17.

Woodford Theatre Young Artists (WTYA) will have other holiday performance opportunities through a partnership with the Woodford County Library, and an a cappella group known as the Holly Jollies will perform at eight scheduled events and are also available for hire, with proceeds from all of the WTYA upcoming performances supporting a trip to the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta this coming January, Weig said.

“It’s just really important to us for them to understand all aspects of theatre,” she said, “because the more they know, the more they will work” if they choose to pursue a career in acting.

Kennedy said she doesn’t plan on pursuing a career in acting, but wants to do as many stage shows as she can, “hopefully for the rest of my life.”

Luc, who does have aspirations to pursue a professional career in acting, said, “I usually play most of the comedy roles, so whenever I’m out there and I get people to laugh, it makes me feel good.”

To purchase tickets for the Poe Tour performance at The Kentucky Castle (Oct. 30), which includes complimentary food, visit thekentuckycastle.com/events or call 859-256-0322. For tickets to other upcoming Woodford Theatre Young Artists performances or more information, call 859-873-0648 or visit woodfordtheatre.com.

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