Written by longtime VCT students and actors Nathan Kellner and Abby Shelton, the petition called Wilhelms the “heart and soul” of the theater and said she was “unjustly removed.” Kellner wrote in an email that the petition was sent to VCT leadership Wednesday with 109 signatures.The petition, which is not attributed to an author, states that Wilhelms was the “heart and soul” of the theater and that she was “unjustly removed.”
Wilhelms was originally slated to direct the finale of the 2020-21 season, “The Wizard of Oz,” scheduled for performances Aug. 5-8 at Jefferson Center in Roanoke.
Wilhelms hired Roden, a fellow native of upstate New York, to be the company’s director of education in 2017. At the start of the 2018-19 season, she promoted him to assistant artistic director with the goal that he would take on her duties starting with the 2019-20 season.
Wednesday, VCT spokesperson Lindsay Tolar shared a statement from the nonprofit’s board of directors. The statement asserts that when Roden became producing artistic director, an agreement existed for Wilhelms to stay on as resident stage director for the 2019-20 season, with any future seasons moving forward at Roden’s discretion.
In his statement, Roden praised Wilhelms for guiding the theater through “many years of excellence.”
Virginia Children’s Theatre puts on plays aimed at schoolchildren, with the works they choose to produce almost always based on children’s literature. The plays make use of child and adult performers, including actors who are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the trade’s professional labor union.
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