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Vinegar Tom: Theater, music, digital arts

Vinegar TomStetson University presents Vinegar Tom, by Obie Award-winning author Caryl Churchill, on Feb. 20 through 23, in Stetson Theatre Arts’ “Second Stage” located inside the Museum of Art, 600 N. Woodland Blvd., adjacent to the DeLand campus.  

(Pictured: Susan, played by Ellen Smittle, looks on in horror as her excited friend Alice, played by Roxy Ghamgosarnia, prepares to prick her newly made voodoo doll in Vinegar Tom. Photo by Ken McCoy.)

Vinegar Tom tells the story of a small rural village in 17th Century England. It examines the devastating effects that result when feelings of paranoia and hatred are channeled into accusations of witchcraft. Vinegar Tom is directed by Julie Schmitt, director of Stetson’s Theatre Arts Program.

An exciting, early play by Churchill, Vinegar Tom follows the story of several characters that make their living from farming. When their crops go bad and their cattle become sick, certain characters start to believe that their bad luck must be the result of witchcraft. Their accusations result in a visit from a famous witch hunter who will stop at nothing to eradicate witches from this community. Although Vinegar Tom is set in the17th century, the play has a contemporary feel as a result of the modern staging and the inclusion of popular music sung by a chorus of singers.

The audience will be drawn into this production due to the intensity of the story and the intimacy of the staging. Audiences will feel as though they are a part of the action with the ¾ thrust-style stage arrangement, which allows the audience to more fully surround the actors on stage.

“I’m incredibly excited to be working on this production, as I have been a huge fan of Caryl Churchill’s work for many years,” said Julie Schmitt, Ph.D., director of Vinegar Tom. “The most exciting aspect of this production involves the level of collaboration that is taking place between artists of different backgrounds. In addition to getting to work with talented scenic and costume designers, I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with Cathy Neff, a music composer, and Matt Roberts, professor of Digital Arts at Stetson. So not only will this production have compelling actors performing on an incredibly dynamic set, but those performances will also be supported by original music and engaging video projections. It has been a lot to coordinate, but I know it will be worth it in the end.”

The actors include: Grace Aguda, Erin Foster, Roxy Ghamgosarinia, Jonathan Greer, Sabrina Lemar, Jacob Manos, Rachel Markunas, Ellen Smittle and Samantha Williams.

The singers include: Allie Champagne, Caron Davis, Ashley Johnson and Amie Vaughn.

Caution Notice: This play is for mature audiences due to the coarse language and sexual content. 

Showtimes are: 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 3 p.m., Sunday. Admission for this performance is $12 for adults, and $10 for seniors and students. (Stetson students, faculty and staff are admitted free with a valid ID.) Tickets will be available at the door and reserved tickets must be picked up 30 minutes prior to the start of the show. Box office will be open one hour prior to curtain. 

For information or reservations, call Stetson Theatre’s “Second Stage” box office at (386) 822-8700.