Heritage Theatre Festival is well on its way to creating one singular sensation with its 2018 season-opening production of the beloved Broadway classic A Chorus Line thanks to a stellar cast led by Broadway veteran Nikka Graff Lanzarone and an array of national, regional, and local talent.
The production, which will launch the tenure of UVA alumna Jenny Wales as Artistic Director will open on June 22 at Culbreth Theatre. It will also mark a UVA reunion for Wales and director Matthew Steffens, who met as first-years on the steps of Peabody Hall. Steffens, a noted Broadway actor, singer, dancer, director, and choreographer, is returning to Grounds for the first time as a professional and continuing a long and fruitful partnership with Wales that has seen them work together on multiple productions over the last 20 years.
While still six weeks away from their first rehearsal for the show, Wales and Steffens have logged plenty of miles and audition room hours, seeing more than 400 actors in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville. The hard work paid off in a stellar cast that combines a critically-acclaimed Broadway actress Nikka Graff Lanzarone, in the lead role of Cassie, with leading national and regional talent as well as some of the best singers, dancers, and actors from Charlottesville and the surrounding area.
Nikka Graff Lanzarone starred on Broadway in the role of Velma Kelly in Chicago and was a member of the original Broadway cast of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Lanzarone’s long and impressive resume includes Off-Broadway and regional theatre credits including roles in Sweet Charity, Seussical, Hello Again, and Zorba; Lanzarone has worked at such theatres as Long Wharf Theatre, The Goodman, Paper Mill Playhouse, and many others.
Lanzarone will be joined by Jim Moscater as Zach, Jesus Sepulveda as Larry, Emma Benson as Bebe, Camden Loeser as Mike, Hannah Kevitt as Connie, Jeffrey Marc Alkins as Greg, Helena Fay Thompson as Sheila, Kade Wright as Bobby, Ainsley Seiger as Maggie, McLain Powell as Judy, Mason Reeves as Richie, Josh Dunn as Al, Cassidy Halpin as Kristine, Gianina Mugavero as Val, Michael Hardenberg as Mark, Julian Sanchez as Paul, Nisa Mercado as Diana , Alisa Ledyard as Vickie, Camden Luck as Trisha, Christine Thalwitz as Lois, and Daniel Kingsley as Roy.
“I think Heritage Theatre Festival audiences are going to be astounded by the talent and heart each of these performers brings to this piece. Time after time we found ourselves seeing and feeling something new from the show thanks to the unique perspective our actors were bringing from their talents and their backgrounds,” Steffens said. “The interest in each city we traveled to blew me away. I felt like I was actually in A Chorus Line, as ten groups of 35 dancers learned combination after combination in the course of a single day.”
Supporting the first-rate cast, Steffens said, is an outstanding design team that brings the same mix of national, regional, and local talent and vision. “Working with our design team on A Chorus Line has been a dream. Our Music Director, Greg Harris is a phenomenal musical talent and skilled collaborator who knows Heritage as well as anyone thanks to his long history of great work here; Lee Kennedy, our lighting designer is a professor at UVA who most recently opened Summer and Smoke at Classic Stage Company in NYC; Alexae Visel, Costume Designer, has worked at such theatres as Yale Repertory Theatre and Theatre for a New Audience; Scenic Designer Chris Thompson was most recently working as the Assistant Scenic Designer on My Fair Lady on Broadway; Sound Designer Michael Rasbury is a professor at UVA and has worked regionally around the country. It’s a strong team who is pushing me to think about A Chorus Line in new and innovative ways.”
The 2018 Heritage Theatre Festival season will be dedicated to the memory of David W. Weiss, a founder of Heritage Theatre Festival and former Chair of the Department of Drama.
Season subscriptions are currently on sale for the 2018 Heritage Theatre Festival season at the UVA Arts Box Office. Single ticket sales begin on May 31. Subscriptions can be ordered in person or by phone at the box office M-F from noon to 5pm through May 1. The box office will re-open on May 31 at 10am. Subscriptions may be ordered online at any time at artsboxoffice.virginia.edu.