Sophomore plays villain, teaches kids

Sophomore John Post directs at the Smithfield Little Theater during their free time.

John Post|Courtesy

Sophomore John Post has played as a villain in three out of four of VWU’s mainstage theater productions in the past two years.

To those students who like to see Virginia Wesleyan’s theater performances, John Post is likely a familiar face. They have been involved with the VWU theater for three years, first playing a rock in “Spongebob: The Musical.” Since then, they have played a part in all four mainstage productions, three of those being the antagonist.

“They tend to be the most fun, and some of the more challenging characters,” Post, a sophomore who is majoring in Theater, said. They have played DeVicious in “Airness”, the Nasty Interesting Man/the Child in “Eurydice” and Gleb in “Anastasia.” 

Although before coming to college, they had only played lighter, comedic productions, Post said they were learning to “appreciate the darker arts” since being cast as a villain. Post said Gleb was “one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to play, and also one of the most rewarding.”

“[Playing Gleb], it felt like there was a heavy weight on me—like I was wearing a weighted vest,” Post said. They said that the ability to kill for their beliefs, like Gleb had, was a heavy weight that they wore until the bows at the end of the night. 

The willingness to kill isn’t just Gleb’s—Post described the Nasty Interesting Man as “lov[ing] a character so much they’re willing to kill her”—but still thought of him as a very different character from anything they’ve played before.

Post has been involved with 48 shows in both acting and directing roles. They’ve been involved with theater since they were playing at the Smithfield Little Theater at eight years old.

“Community theater is a great way for young actors to get more experience outside of their schools,” Dr. Travis Malone, professor of Theatre and Anne B. Shumadine Dean of the Batten Honors College, said. Malone said that schools generally only do a few productions a year. 

Senior Elias Kenworthy said Post was not happy about being typecast, but that it was “just the vibes,” using the word “vibe” to refer to Post’s general affect and appearance.

“There’s something about being a spindly little guy that just gives villain era,” Kenworthy said. 

Malone said that it was not intentional that Post had received so many of these roles. 

“Casting is always done in context,” Malone said. He added that roles are chosen based on auditions and how to make the best cast. At the collegiate level, he said that there is also an element of attempting to see everyone in the cast improve. 

Kenworthy said that Post’s skills fell in this area as well, being better at the acting aspect than singing. He said that Post would likely agree.

“I see acting as this fine skill—this craft that needs to be honed,” Post said. In addition, they said they saw themselves as an “actor, before a singer or a dancer.” According to Malone, Post had to work with a private voice instructor to meet some of the singing requirements for the part of Gleb.

Kenworthy wasn’t originally close with Post, but the two of them became friends during rehearsals for “Anastasia,” according to Kenworthy. 

“We ended up going to this open mic night at the Zee,” Kenworthy said, and that he saw Post as more of a friend afterward. “This is a great person,” Kenworthy said, noting that he felt comfortable around Post and that he didn’t have to hide who he was. 

Post volunteers at the Smithfield Little Theater directing shows for younger students, the same place they performed as a child. Post directed a show their tenth year at Smithfield, and said that they enjoyed giving children better opportunities than they had.  

“I want to try to give every kid in the theater [program] around here the best experience,” Post said. 

Post said they will be graduating either a semester or a year early. They said they would miss performing in the area, as it takes a back seat to directing, as well as helping younger theater students, including those at the Smithfield Little Theater. 

“It’s bittersweet, which is probably one of the most cliche things to say,” Post said. Their plan is to go to New York to pursue a performing career on Broadway. 

“I want to do this for the rest of my life,” Post said. They want to perform in musicals like “Book of Mormon,” “Wicked” and “Anne Juliete.” They have already landed one major role, as Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” the musical based on the book, and have been involved in a production at Chrysler Hall.

By Victoria Haneline