Curtain set to go up on student-run theater company’s summer production

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 3:48 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - No adults? No problem. A group of teens and young adults in Williston are keeping themselves busy this summer with an entirely student-run theatrical production.

For the past month or so, the Verdantrics Production Company has been working to put on a performance of “The Lucky Stiff.”

The cast and crew are made up of kids ages 16 to 20 and the show is directed by a couple of 18-year-olds. They’re out to prove that adult supervision is not needed for a top-notch production.

There’s about a month left of summer for kids in the Champlain Valley School District, but the Williston Central School is full of students. Students doing something they’ve never really done before.

“So now we are operating a nonprofit, which has presented its own host of challenges, while also trying to put on the show,” Avery Smith said.

The Verdantrics Production Company was founded in 2019 by two students in Hinesburg. After skipping 2020, they were back last year.

“But they were really busy this summer, so they had planned to just dissolve the company and dissolve the assets,” Smith said.

That’s where Avery Smith and Isabella Hackerman stepped in, creating the next generation of summer student theater in the district.

Everyone on the cast and crew is under the age of 20 with the exception of Smith’s dad who is working as the technical director.

“I think everyone in this production is doing things that they’ve never done before. Some of it is familiar but some of it is totally new,” Smith said.

For the past month or so, this young adult team has been working to create a production of “The Lucky Stiff,” a comedy we won’t spoil too much.

But they’ve been doing it without the help of adults.

“It’s just such a fun and unique environment when it’s all peer-to-peer education where you’re all learning from each other without feeling like there’s one person in the room who is older and has all the right answers,” Smith explained.

While Smith is directing the show, his counterpart, Hackerman, is working as the musical director. Neither one of them has plans to study theater in college. Smith will pursue engineering and Hackerman will study chemistry.

“When Avery approached me about possibly doing a show, I was like, ‘Sure!’” Hackerman said.

“I mean what better way to spend a summer before I’m going to do something very sciencey, very academic than doing something I love in the arts?”

Hackerman says it’s been a big learning experience for her in a lot of ways. For one, she’s never conducted before. Now, she’s leading the band for this show.

“Previously it’s been hard for me to say I’m in charge, I’m the boss. And I’ve had to do that and it’s made me a lot more confident, I think,” she said.

Despite the lack of grown-ups, they say things are going well and that there’s a certain something that makes a show done by peers and peers alone special.

“As we aren’t adults, it’s good to let this be youth-led,” Smith said. “I think something that young adults have is a lot of ambition and passion so why not use that?”

The curtain goes up Thursday at 7:30 p.m. They’ll also perform at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets are $12. Click here for more details.

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