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News : Entertainment Jun 11, 2014 - 4:46:51 AM

Shakespeare apprentices given platform for theatrical ambitions

By Shakespeare on the Sound

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Kristen Misthopoulos has converted a supporting role in the Darien High School production of “Romeo and Juliet” into an opening with the Apprentice Company of Shakespeare on the Sound.

Her appearance as Juliet’s unnamed nurse drew accolades from Shakespeare on the Sound’s education director, Emily Bryan, who described the aspiring actress as “dynamic, fresh and funny.”

That led to an audition and an appointment to an apprentice company of 14 students with theatrical ambitions that run across the spectrum of performing, playwriting, directing, costume and set design, administration, marketing and public relations.

Misthopoulos is headed for Syracuse University this fall in pursuit of a bachelor of fine arts degree. She says acting’s appeal is that “storytelling is the oldest form of entertaining people and it remains adaptable to today’s evolving technology.”

She is one of two graduating Darien high schoolers to qualify for apprenticing with Rowayton-based Shakespeare on the Sound, in rehearsal for “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in Pinkney Park June 12-29, the 19th outdoor season.

Will Steinthal is the other Darien student. Like Kirsten he is 18. His interest is back-stage production and sound.

Two other apprentices, Caroline Lazar and Amanda Monick, are from Greenwich.

From elsewhere in Connecticut:

There is Eliza Ranieri of New Canaan who is a devotee of directing, aspiring playwright Iliana Figueroa of Stratford, Briana Archer of Redding, Julia Lennon of Southport, Michelle Rakowsky of New Fairfield, Emily Skudrzyk of Fairfield and Catherine Luciani of Fairfield who impressed everyone at a reading as a stand-in for a character in the master production.

From out-of-state, the apprentice class has recruited Avery Deutsch of Katonah, NY, Noah Berman of Newton, MA and Josh Mallin of Philadelphia.

One assignment for the apprentice class is to create a children’s pre-show of “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” in Pinkney Park an hour before the 7:30 p.m. nightly curtain, designed for youngsters 4 to 12 to explain the incomparable world of Shakespeare with its depth of character, insight into human nature and power of words to enchant and delight.

The adaptation runs 20 minutes or so, featuring an all-female cast which means actresses appear in the roles of the male characters, reversing the practice of Elizabethan times when adolescent boys played the female characters.

Shakespeare on Sound has also arranged a series of six master classes for the apprentices, covering disciplines like playwriting, casting, auditioning, movement and voice.

“Two Gents, ” as Shakespeare’s romantic comedy is popularly known, unfolds under the stars in the natural amphitheatre of Pinkney Park. The audience is family-oriented. Many make a picnic out of the evening, sprawled on the grassy slope with blankets and deckchairs, baskets crammed with culinary goodies and libations.

There is no charge for general admission or parking. Donations fund the play in part, suggested at $20, $10 for seniors and students. Reserved seating is also available. Additional information about the activities of Shakespeare on the Sound is available at

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