NEYT’S Liam Johnson Featured In Equus at Great River Theater Festival

SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – New England Youth Theatre alum Liam Johnson of Brattleboro has taken on the challenging role of the troubled boy Alan Strang in the Main Street Arts production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus.

The psychological thriller that is now considered a modern classic opens Thursday, June 28 for a two-weekend run as part of the Greater River Theater Festival. Shows are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, June 28, 29, 30 and July 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the MSA theater, which has been reconfigured so the audience literally has a ringside seat.

The show is directed by David Stern and features a cast that includes, Michael Duffin as psychiatrist Martin Dysart, Cassie Dunn (another NEYTer) as Jill, Libby McCawley as Hester, Gavy Kessler as Frank Strang and Henry O’Connell (also NEYT) as a horse.

The show is suitable for ages 15 and older.

Meanwhile, over at the Horowitz Performing Arts Hall at Vermont Academy, Shakespearean actor John Hadden is directing A.R. Gurney’s Scenes from American Life, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. The show will be performed the following weekend with the same schedule and location.

Gurney’s play opens in 1930 and journeys through more than three dozen scenes to show us a cross section of upper-class life in Buffalo, the playwright’s hometown. As the story wends its way to 1980, its light-hearted and nostalgic themes carry an undercurrent of a serious side that includes prejudice and repression, with references to wars, dictators, demagogues, dropouts and fallout.

Cast members, each playing many roles, include Bronwyn Sims, Lionel Chute, Liz Guzynski, Joanne Fuller, Kate Udall, Grace Johnson, Marit Bjerkadal, Louise Connor, Ira Richardson and Alec Dandelions.

Back over at MSA, Jana Zeller and Kalob Martinez will offer a Sandglass Theater production of Puppet Crimes Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 4 p.m. The show consists of two pieces, El Beto, with Martinez behind the curtain, is a version of Macbeth set in modern times in the Mexican drug cartels. Zeller’s offering is Kasper and Gretel, who bicker and dream in the style of Punch and Judy.

The show is recommended for ages 12 and older.

Younger theater goers will have a chance to experience Sandglass puppetry at two shows, Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at MSA when Zeller presents Kasper’s Adventures, a family-friendly show originally conceived by Zeller’s mother, Ines Zeller Bass. Advance reservations are advised.

Adding to the mix of the Festival are two workshops.  Sims is leading a Rhythm Space and Character workshop exploring the building blocks of theater through the LeCoq technique Saturday at 1 p.m. The fee is $20. Sandglass artists are offering a free “Tape Guy” puppetry workshop Sunday at noon.

Informal gatherings to meet the cast and directors will take place at the Saxtons River Inn at 9 p.m. after the performances Friday and Saturday, July 6 and 7. MSA will host cookouts on both Saturdays, July 7 and 14, at 6 and 5:30 p.m., respectively. Hannah Hoffman will provide live music at the latter.

Tickets for adults are $20 each or $40 for a pass to all three. The morning puppet show is $20 for adults and $8 for children 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased online at A complete schedule can also be found there.

Further information about Main Street Arts and the Festival is available by contacting MSA at (802) 869-2960,, or online at or on Facebook.

(Photo by Ea Maples)

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