You probably wouldn’t recognize Ahwatukee Foothills’ Rebecca Caswell as the gray-haired, shabby witch in Valley Youth Theater’s current production of “Rapunzel.” But it is her under that wig.

Caswell began acting for the same reason as many actors — it was the only place she felt like she fit in.

“I’m kind of odd and people don’t really like me that much, so I kind of didn’t really feel at home unless I was on stage, and I just kind of felt that’s where I belonged,” Caswell said. “I’m pretty much not happy unless I’m at rehearsal or doing a show.”

This is her first performance with Phoenix’s Valley Youth Theater.

“Valley Youth Theater has a great reputation for being a really professional theater and I’ve seen their shows and they’re amazing,” Caswell said. “I didn’t actually think I was going to get (the part), I didn’t think I was good enough.”

She auditioned anyway hoping that she would at least get a call back. Instead, she got the part.

“I was so excited,” Caswell said. “I was literally screaming when they called me and said I got the part.”

Caswell plays the witch in this production of “Rapunzel.” The witch, who can’t have a child of her own, takes the child of a couple she catches stealing from her garden and puts her in a tower. And you know the rest. But Caswell doesn’t see the witch as evil.

“She’s not evil she just really, really wants something so bad that it kind of makes her seem evil,” Caswell said.

The Desert Vista High School junior is also a member of the National Honor Society and the school choir.

In fact, she is graduating a semester early. After which she plans to go to a school in California and pursue acting in television.

Her mom, Katey Caswell, couldn’t be prouder.

“(I’m) totally proud of her,” Katey said, “She is an awesome actress. She’s a very good singer. She’s an excellent student.”

And Katey thinks this production of “Rapunzel” is different than what people have seen before. It isn’t the Disney version of the fairy tale.

“It’s very different,” she said. “I mean, fairy tales are usually a lot more complex than people give them credit. They’re not really just for kids.”

“Rapunzel” is now playing through Feb. 24 at Valley Youth Theater, 525 N. First St. in downtown Phoenix. Tickets are $20. For more information, visit VYT.com.

Brittany Stehmer is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She is interning this semester for the AFN.

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