In Shakespeare's day, females were not allowed to act; their roles were played by young men. First Stage's Young Company will turn that tradition on its head with their all- female cast production of All's Well That Ends Well, December 11-20 at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.
The Young Company is the First Stage Academy's advanced actor training program for high school students. Kicking off their 12th season, the Company recently celebrated its fifth, first place finish at the Utah Shakespeare Festival/Southern Utah University Shakespeare Competition in October. Young Company member, Alison Pogorelc (who plays Helena in this production), won the Larry Lott award for outstanding performance in an ensemble, and placed first in monologues.
Directed by Marcella Kearns, Young Company's All's Well is a condensed version of Shakespeare's play, that keeps the original language and heart of the story intact, while making the length more suitable for modern audiences. The Young Company generally stages two Shakespeare productions each season, and any fan of the Bard would approve; their performances are as good, or better, than any professional company I've seen.
All's Well is the story of Bertram, Count of Rossillion (played brilliantly by Mary Elsa Henrichs), and Helena (Alison Pogorelc). Helena is a commoner, but she heals the King of France (Zoey Knox), and is given her choice of men to wed. She chooses her love, Bertram, but Bertram doesn't appreciate the King telling him what to do, and runs off to fight for Florence to escape his forced marriage. With the help of Bertram's mother, the Countess of Rossillion (Isabelle Abbott), and Diana (Megan Watson), Bertram's love interest, can Helena win her unwilling husband? Keep a sharp eye out for Bertram's flawed friend, Parolles (an outstanding performance by Maddie Penzkover), and the brothers Dumaine (Alex and Sydney Salter), as well as the hysterical Lavatch (Maddy Folstein). The all female cast works beautifully in this production -- I believe the Bard, himself, would be proud.
The Milwaukee Youth Arts Center located at 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee. Tickets are $14. Tickets and more information is available at www.firststage.org or through the First Stage box office at (414) 267-2961.
PERFORMANCE DATES: ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL opens Friday, December 11 at 7:00 p.m. Additional performances will be held on Saturday, December 12 at 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.; Sunday, December 13 at 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.; Friday, December 18 at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, December 19 at 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, December 20 at 3:30 and 7:00 p.m.
About Young Company
Young Company is the advanced, college-level actor training program at First Stage Theater Academy. Students take part in course work with Associate Artistic Director and Director of the Young Company John Maclay, professional actors Matt Daniels and Marcy Kearns and others. The curriculum includes work on a variety of theater skills including Acting Theory, Shakespeare, Voice & Speech, and Movement. The Young Company has participated in the Utah Shakespeare Festival/Southern Utah University High School Shakespeare Competition for the past nine years, winning the Essex division overall sweepstakes award for highest total team score. Young Company members also appear in productions throughout the year and are student leaders in the First Stage community.
About First Stage
Since 1987, First Stage touches hearts, engages minds, and transforms lives by creating extraordinary theater experiences for young people and families through professional theater productions that inspire, enlighten, and entertain; unparalleled Theater Academy training that fosters life skills through stage skills; and dynamic Theater in Education programs that promote active learning in our schools and community. In 2012, First Stage was selected to participate in the Partners in Education program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. First Stage is a member of TYA/USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, the Wisconsin Alliance for Arts Education, Theatre Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Arts Partners, and is a cornerstone member of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF).