REED CITY — Twenty high school students are taking on a twist of Shakespeare for the first summer youth play set for multiple performances during this year’s Great American Crossroads Celebration.

Crossroads Theatre Guild member Tim Locker is directing the group’s performance of “The Curate Shakespeare As You  Like It” by Don Nigro. He began the project because he wanted to offer something for youth to do during their summer vacation to help keep them active. Currently, two troupes are rehearsing from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday through Thursday and learning other aspects besides the script. Behind-the-scenes roles, concessions and handing out programs will be covered. During each performance, the troupe that is not on stage will take care of the other important roles in the production.

Locker, who is a high school math teacher at Crossroads Charter Academy in Big Rapids, has been involved with theater for about 45 years in some shape or form. He likes how the younger participants bring a fresh perspective to the performances and welcomes others for future productions.

“It’s a true community theater from the young to the old. It’s open to everybody,” Locker said. “There are no limitations in the theater.”

The play depicts a story of a group of cast members rehearsing for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” and some of the characters are less than thrilled with the task. However, the play calls for the youth to take on multiple character personalities as they switch from the cast member to the actual Shakespearean character.

“It should be fun for the audience because things will kind of bounce back and forth,” Locker said. “It’s a flexible story. I wanted something that would be contemporary, yet traditional.”

So far, the teenagers involved are responding well to the play as well as each other, building a community and crossing the lines formed in high school. Joe Gerring, 16, of Reed City and Sarina Foster, 17, of Evart, said they are excited to perform and believe the audience will enjoy the show.

“I think it’ll be very interesting to portray a play of Shakespeare’s,” Foster said, noting she hopes to see large crowds during each performance.

Gerring, who has performed with the standard Crossroads Theatre Guild crew, agreed and added he is proud to be a representative of Reed City and the theater guild.

“The biggest payoff is grinding through rehearsals,” he said. “Like when there is a joke in the story, you’ve heard it so many times that it stops being funny; but when you do it in front of an audience and they’re breaking up laughing, you see how funny the jokes are.”

Though performance times are yet to be announced, Locker said he hopes the play will be supported by the community and become a tradition every summer. The Great American Crossroads Celebration will take place from Aug. 15 to 18.

“I think we’ll get an excellent response this year,” he added.