Young actors take stage

Youthful artists hope to fill Cahaba Valley with sounds of Shakespeare this weekend as they perform the classic writer’s “Merry Wives of Windsor.”

Laura Coulter, minister of youth and children at Cahaba Valley Church and artistic director of the Cahaba Valley Players, said she is excited to share her cast’s hard work with the community.

“There are few things so satisfying as working with young people as they master Shakespeare,” said Coulter. “My cast is amazing. They’re working so hard and they’re literally glowing in their roles. They amaze me – and, what’s more – I think they’re amazing themselves.”

Cahaba Valley Players originated in the 1980s under Lee Shackleford, now a UAB professor, as outreach through Cahaba Valley Church to recreate classical plays exclusively relying on young actors.

The group was revived in 2008 and this summer they plan to present Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor. Performances will be held June 18 at 6:30 p.m. and on June 19 at 2 and 7 p.m.

Coulter said the Cahaba Valley Players aims to provide youth with artistic experiences rarely found elsewhere. She said programs within churches and community organizations are vital with state budget crunches often leading to funding cuts for school arts programs.

Brendan Young, an 11th–grader from Oak Mountain said the show peaked his interest in Shakespeare.

“I personally love the costumes and the feeling of the time period. I believe it will be an enjoyable experience. I love the cast, which is absolutely impeccable, and I am looking forward to opening night.”

In addition to increased self-esteem, Coulter said kids who study the arts are more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and develop effective communication skills.

Ashley Shaffer, 16 of Alabaster, plays one of the Merry Wives.

“While rehearsing for Merry Wives of Windsor I’ve made new friends,” says Thompson 10th-grader Ashley Shaffer from Alabaster. “I have loved working with this cast and Mrs. Laura Coulter.”

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 and younger.