Vershire Talent Shines in Ramayana

Song & dance in the mythic setting of The Ramayana

Kids' Theater Camp Continues Tradition of Creativity

From the smallest monkeys and demons battling with wooden swords to the teenagers in leading roles portraying love and conflict through song and story, and even acrobats flipping across the stage, The Ramayana sparkled and swirled at the Chelsea Town Hall in two performances last Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.  The public offerings showcased two weeks of intensive education and rehearsal under the direction of the musical's author and composer, Torsti Rovainen.  An additional performance featured younger players in the more prominent roles, to give them a chance to spread their Thespian wings.

Lila Waxman makes her entrance

At Inspirations Theater Camps & Clubs, all participants are encouraged to spread their wings in whatever way is appropriate for their age and experience.  Newcomers to acting are welcomed and encouraged to just get started and begin gaining experience while more seasoned students of theater and music are coached in the finer aspects of the art.  It showed in the teamwork and camaraderie, the range of expression from whispers to shouts, the way the personalities of the children shone forth with style while still keeping in character and in the actors' understanding of the story and ability to convey its meaning with deep emotion and sincerity.

Charlie Bradley (tallest, center), Cole Rinehart (right of Charlie), Davey Bradley (far right) put their heads together

Torsti is an experienced director and creator of musicals, having started eight years ago while teaching at Wellspring Waldorf School.  Since the school closed its doors a couple years ago he's been living in Portland, Oregon, but comes back to Vermont to offer this creative summer activity.  He's planning to spread his own theatrical wings and offer the musical professionally after being encouraged to share his creations with other schools and programs.

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Vershire was well represented in the program, with Lila Waxman as Mandeep and also as a demon, Tovahn Vitols as one head of the ten-headed Ravana as well as the warrior Pratosh and Janaka's Steward, Alice Craft as General Yamaraj and a Bowlifter, Charlie Bradley as a Ravana head and the human personification of Ravana, and Davey Bradley also as a Ravana head and Deepak.  Charlie's and Davey's mother Laura Bradley, also a Waldorf teacher, played in the orchestra as did Andrea Herrington, Tovahn's mother.  Former Vershire residents Hazel and Cole Rinehart even returned to join in the fun with Cole appearing as the warrior Ganesh and a Ravana-head, and Hazel as a demon and Minister Viswamithra.

Alice Craft stands firm

Inspirations Theater Camps are open to all children 8-15 with scholarships helping to provide a nurturing educational atmosphere with a strong blend of encouragement and skill-building.  The donations collected at the refreshments table will be split evenly between the scholarship fund and a program to help girls in India access education they would otherwise not be able to afford.

The audience was also educated prior to the initial lifting of the elegant restored historic stage curtain.  Torsti gave expedient instruction on what to expect during this original rendition of the Hindu classic tale, responding to the songs, jokes, threats and surprizes to come in ways that would encourage the performers to do their best and enjoy the experience.  The "Sing along" sign while the little monkeys were constructing a magical bridge of friendship across the ocean to rescue the heroine, Sita, was especially helpful.

Tovahn Vitols grins, far right

Though Torsti's musical portrayal of the age-old myth of India was merely two hours or so, a highly abridged and creatively adapted version of the tale, the story was riveting and the tension suspenseful as characters struggled with loyalty and allegiance, internal conscience and growing understanding, individual heroism and teamwork, sacrifice and irrevocable decision.  But in the end, whether victorious or defeated in battle, monsters, monkeys and nobles alike stood tall, side by side, for the final bows before the cheering audience.

Torsti is on his way back to Oregon for another year, but once again, he created magic with the kids of our community and their families that lives on.

Torsti Rovainen, creator and director of The Ramayana

Many thanks to Rob Rinaldi and Torsti Rovainen for sharing their fabulous photographs.

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