News

Heritage Theatre Festival to Complete 2018 Season with Katori Hall's Award-Winning Play THE MOUNTAINTOP

Fantastical Imagining of Final Night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Life Takes Rare Look At the Human Side of the Legendary Figure And Offers Compelling Bridge From This World To the Next

Opens July 27 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre

Heritage Theatre Festival will wrap up its 2018 season with The Mountaintop, an Olivier Award-winning play by Katori Hall. The Mountaintop is built around a fantastical imagining of the final night of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, and a chance encounter with a motel maid that offers a rare window into the human side of the American icon and presents a compelling bridge from this world to the next.

The Mountaintop will be presented from July 26-August 5 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre, and will be directed by Kathryn Hunter-Williams. Tickets begin at $15 and are available at the UVA Drama Building at 109 Culbreth Road, online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org or by calling 434-924-3376.

The Mountaintop is set on April 3, 1968 in Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. A weary Dr. King, fresh from his legendary “Mountaintop” speech, gets a visit from Lorraine maid Camae. From the minute the motel room door closes, Hall opens a unique window into Dr. King’s mind and heart as he shares his thoughts, fears, hopes, regrets, and dreams for the future, and as he and Camae forge a unique and compelling connection.

The “two-hander” play stars Atlanta-based Enoch King as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and New York-based Suzette Azariah Gunn (known to audiences nationally from her recurring role on the CBS drama The Good Fight) as Camae. Williams said that from the very first rehearsal, the actors forged their own connection on stage. “They both bring such talent and wisdom and experience to the piece, and have a great chemistry between them that adds to Katori’s remarkable words to make the play even more dynamic.”

In addition to the draw of working with Heritage Artistic Director Jenny Wales, a former colleague at PlayMakers Repertory in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Hunter-Williams said she was particularly intrigued about the opportunity to take audiences on the imagined journey that Katori Hall has created. “One thing we have to be really clear about is that no one knows what really happened in Room 306 in the Lorraine Motel during the overnight hours from April 3 to 4,” she said. “But Katori has humanized the man, as he reflects about his life. There is humor, there is sexual tension, there is joy, there is reflection, there are regrets, there is forgiveness. So, in a way, it is everything that makes us human wrapped up in one 90-minute piece.”

Hunter-Williams was also drawn to directing the play in today’s difficult political climate, and especially given the production’s unique timing in the 50th anniversary year of Dr. King’s assassination, and a year removed from the  tragic events of last August 12th in Charlottesville. “Part of the appeal for me of doing this play right now comes from looking at it in terms of the temperature of the country right now,” she said. “Some days when I have been working on it I have been thinking about what Dr. King, who would now be in his 90’s, might say about where we are right now. And of course, here we are in Charlottesville almost a year to the day of the march and the tragic murder of Heather Heyer.”

While these are intensely complicated issues, Hunter-Williams said, she feels that theater as a medium has a unique ability to address them. “The mood in this country is so drastically different, and there is this artistic challenge that is put before us,” she said. “I really feel like theater is the best place to ask, and wrestle with those questions. There is something that happens when we all sit in that dark space together. We start to breathe together, in a sense.  Some studies have shown that our heartbeats and our breaths become synchronized, which creates a communal experience no other art form can replicate. So what better place can there be in which to raise these questions, and then, when the lights come up, to really look to each other for answers. Because that is where I truly believe that answers can be found.”

Hunter-Williams hopes that the audience experience can go beyond artistic appreciation into the realm of an understanding of our shared responsibility and potential to make a difference. “I think Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the man for the time and for where the country was. Now we are in a different place. So who takes that responsibility now?  What Katori does in the play is let us know that every single one of us has the capacity to be a Dr. King. Here was a man who was at times conflicted about the meaning of the movement, a man who sometimes felt like he failed. And sometimes he did fail. He was human. He made mistakes. So you look at all of this, at how Katori presents him in this play, and you think, any one of us can be doing this. And every one of us should be doing this.”

Ticket information can be found here.

The 2018 Heritage Theatre Festival season is dedicated to the memory of David W. Weiss, a founder of Heritage Theatre Festival and the former Chair of the UVA Department of Drama.

Free parking for all Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters. 

Heritage Theatre Festival to Present Marx Brothers Classic Musical THE COCOANUTS

Acclaimed Actor, Director and Writer and World’s Foremost Groucho Marx Interpreter Frank Ferrante Returns To Star In and Direct Tour-De-Farce Musical From George S. Kaufman and Irving Berlin

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – June 28, 2018 – Strap in, folks…things are about to get wild over at Heritage Theatre Festival with the classic Marx Brothers musical The Cocoanuts – coming to the Culbreth Theatre from July 20-29.

Frank Ferrante, an award-winning actor, writer, director, and the world’s foremost Groucho Marx interpreter, returns to Heritage to direct and star in this uproarious romp that finds Groucho and his hilariously hapless brothers at their pun-wielding, prat-falling, gut-busting best. The 1925 musical, written by George S. Kaufman with music from Irving Berlin, finds Groucho at the helm of a fourth-rate 1920’s Florida hotel where he does his very best to swindle gullible tourists with shady land deals. Along the way, Groucho, with the help of brothers Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo, maneuvers through romantic and comedic misadventures while aiming his legendary sharp wit straight at the heart of high society. The Cocoanuts is a deliciously silly musical that is perfect for the whole family!

The Cocoanuts will be presented in the Culbreth Theatre from Friday, July 20 through Sunday, July 29. A preview performance will be presented on Thursday, July 19. Shows will be at 7:30 each evening with 2PM matinees on Sunday, July 22; Saturday, July 28; and Sunday, July 29. Tickets begin at only $15.00 and are available at the UVA Arts Box Office (located in the lobby of the Drama Building), online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org or by phone at 434-924-3376. Season subscriptions are also available until July 1.

Ferrante, who wowed Heritage audiences in 2014 with his internationally-acclaimed one-man show An Evening with Groucho, is thrilled to be back in Charlottesville. “I love it here. I feel so welcomed and there is such enthusiasm about Heritage Theatre Festival. It makes you want to rise to the occasion and deliver in a big way.”

The show, he said, aims its satirical barbs in multiple directions. “In a way it is a sendup of musical comedies of the 1920’s. It is a very, very over-the-top, energetic  take on the musical with a fast-moving and outrageously funny book from George S. Kaufman, one of the greatest playwrights and directors of the 20th Century, and a peppy Irving Berlin score featuring the great standard tune ‘Always’.”

The show is a can’t miss opportunity for Marx Brothers fans, Ferrante said, but has an appeal that transcends knowledge of the all-time great clown princes of stage and screen. “Whether you know the Marx Brothers or not, this show is an absolute blast. They were such incredible comedic minds and performers, and so beloved – among the funniest people our country has ever produced.  This show is absolutely joyous to perform, and feels particularly timely given the fact that I think we all can benefit these days from some good old fashioned laughter.”

In classic Marx Brother style, the show will add a healthy dose of improvisation to the scripted proceedings. “The Marx Brothers were always improvising,” Ferrante said. “So there will definitely be some interplay with the audience and some improvised moments sprinkled throughout the evening. The great thing about a show like this is that no two performances are ever the same, which is something you don’t get in a traditional musical. As an audience member, you want to be exhilarated and you want to have your breath taken away, and The Cocoanuts really delivers on that.”

Joining Ferrante will be a stellar cast made up of actors from around the country and right here in Charlottesville, including Matt Roper as Chico; Seth Shelden as Harpo; Kevin Kent in the classic Marx Brothers’ foil Margaret Dumont role of Mrs. Potter; Lydia Flock as Trixie; Alisa Ledyard as Coco; Daniel Kingsley as Nate; Sam Reeder as Zeppo; Dreya Weber as Penelope Martin;  Jim Moscater as Harvey Yates; Ainsley Seiger as Polly Potter; and Timothy Read as Detective Hennessy.

The 2018 Heritage Theatre Festival season, dedicated to the memory of David W. Weiss, a founder of Heritage Theatre Festival and former Chair of the Department of Drama, also includes the beloved musical A Chorus Line (June 21-July 1); the classic Harvey (July 6-15) and Katori Hall’s moving and mystical reimagining of the last night of the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., The Mountaintop (July 26-August 5).

Free parking for all Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters.

Heritage Theatre Festival to Present Mary Chase's Classic American Play HARVEY

Acclaimed West Coast-Based Desdemona Chiang to Direct Pulitzer Prize-Winning Tale About Hope, Family, A 6-Foot-Three Invisible Rabbit, And The Power of Staying True To Who You Really Are

Everyone has a best friend. Elwood P. Dowd’s just happens to be a 6-foot-3 rabbit that no one but he can see.

Welcome to the world of Harvey, the funny, chaotic, and thought-provoking Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Mary Chase made famous by the 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart. Harvey, which comes to Heritage Theatre Festival beginning July 5 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre, is a powerful look at how we deal with people who are different than we are, the unique power of families to both hold and harm, the complexities of the human mind, and ultimately, the importance of staying true to who you really are.

Harvey will be presented in the Ruth Caplin Theatre from Thursday, July 5 through Sunday, July 15. Shows will be presented at 8:00 each evening with 2PM matinees on Sunday, July 8; Saturday, July 14; and Sunday, July 15. Tickets begin at only $15.00 and are available at the UVA Arts Box Office (located in the lobby of the Drama Building), online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org or by phone at 434-924-3376. Season subscriptions are also available.

Elwood P. Dowd is a gentle man whose best friend just happens to be a 6-foot-3 rabbit named Harvey that only Elwood can see. When his sister Veta prepares to launch her daughter into society, the family’s reputation is at stake, and the wheels are set in motion for a story that shocks and entertains. Chaos and confusion ensue as the whole town comes together to try and catch this man and his floppy-eared invisible pal.
Director Desdemona Chiang says that the play has taken her out of her own artistic comfort zone and taught her that there were far more layers of meaning in the play than she had ever considered before. Chiang got a call from Heritage Artistic Director Jenny Wales, with whom she had worked several times before. “She said, ‘We are thinking about doing Harvey, are you interested?’ I said, ‘Oh, that Jimmy Stewart thing with the big rabbit? That Harvey?’ Jenny said she thought it would be a good fit for me, which surprised me because I am not really known for my American classic work. But after reading the play, I was really surprised that there was real complexity and even darkness there, and I got really excited about the possibility of doing it.”

Chiang was particularly struck by the idea of looking at this post-WW II comedy against the backdrop of what it means to live in 2018. “The play has some fascinating things to say to us today about mental
illness, good samaritanism, and the question of what do we do with problematic relatives. And I am particularly interested in this question about how we cope with folks who fall outside the scope of what normalcy is, and the larger question of what is normalcy, anyway?”

The cast for Harvey includes a mix of local and national actors, and headed by one who is both at the same time. Bryan Close, who recently relocated to Charlottesville, stars as Elwood P. Dowd. Close is a former member of the acting company at ACT in San Francisco with a long list of regional theatre credits and stints as an acting coach at the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts and head of the theater program at North Carolina’s Governor’s School for the Arts.

The cast also includes New York-based actor Julia Brothers as Veta Louise Simmons; UVA faculty member Cady Garey as Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet/Betty Chumley; Christine Mirzayan as Ruth Kelly, R.N.; Nathaniel Kent as Duane Wilson/E.J. Lofgren; Kevin Minor as Lyman Sanderson. M.D.; Payton Moledor as Myrtle Mae Simmons; Dan Stern as William Chumley, M.D. and James Scales as Judge Omar Gaffney.
The 2018 Heritage Theatre Festival season, dedicated to the memory of David W. Weiss, a founder of Heritage Theatre Festival and former Chair of the Department of Drama, also includes the beloved musical A Chorus Line (June 21-July 1); the raucous Marx Brothers tour-de-farce musical The Cocoanuts (July 19-29); and Katori Hall’s moving and mystical reimagining of the last night of Martin Luther King, The Mountaintop (July 26-August 5).

Free parking for all Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters.

Broadway's Nikka Graff Lanzarone Headlines A CHORUS LINE

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. 

 

Box Office Extends Schedule for May

Haven't purchased your subscription yet? Don't worry!  You can do so online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via our Box Office page.  If you would rather place your order by phone or in person, the UVA Arts Box Office has extended their May schedule!  They will be open for subscription purchases on

  • Tuesday, May 1: 12-5pm
  • Thursday, May 3: 12-5pm
  • Tuesday, May 8: 12-5pm
  • Thursday, May10: 12-5pm
  • Friday, May 18: 10am-2pm
  • Friday, May 25: 10am-2pm

The Heritage Theatre Festival box office will open on May 31 at 10am for subscriptions and single tickets.

 

 

BROADWAY’S NIKKA GRAFF LANZARONE HEADLINES HERITAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL’S SEASON OPENING PRODUCTION OF A CHORUS LINE

Nikka Graff Lanzarone 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.

HERITAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL EXPLORES THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN ITS 2018 SEASON

HERITAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL EXPLORES THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN ITS 2018 SEASON FEATURING
A CHORUS LINE, HARVEY, THE COCOANUTS AND THE MOUNTAINTOP

New Artistic Director And UVA Drama Alum Jenny Wales Unveils Slate That Mixes Powerful Contemporary Themes With Classic Fun And Will Feature
Leading Directors And Performers From Across the Country

New Heritage Theatre Festival Artistic Director Jenny Wales will mark her official return to her alma mater with a season that celebrates American stories, delivers entertaining and engaging professional theatre, and reflects on our uniquely challenging times.

Wales, a UVA graduate and Drama major, will produce a first season that begins on June 21 with the Tony award-winning, classic musical A Chorus Line. The season will also include the 1945 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Harvey, the madcap Marx Brothers musical comedy The Cocoanuts and the powerful contemporary play The Mountaintop.

 “In putting this season together, I wanted to focus on the idea of looking forward by looking back,” Wales said. “What that means to me is going back to the 1974 founding of Heritage and its original mission to explore the American canon. We have this extraordinary collection of playwrights and stories that many of us know,” Wales said “and we will look at them through a different lens, allowing us to entertain while shedding light on the sometimes challenging realities of living in today’s world.”

A Chorus Line will be presented from June 21 through July 1 in the Culbreth Theatre. The production will be directed and choreographed by UVA alum Matthew Steffens, an internationally-acclaimed actor/director/choreographer whose Broadway credits include Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown with Patti LuPone and Promises, Promises alongside Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth.

At the time of its 1975 Broadway debut, A Chorus Line was a groundbreaking, genre-melding force that incorporated documentary elements into the traditional musical theatre format to tell the real life stories of aspiring artists chasing their dreams. With music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, the show would go on to become its very own “singular sensation,” winning fans around the globe with its sizzling dance numbers and collection of unforgettable Broadway hits including “What I Did for Love,” “I Hope I Get It,” and “I Can Do That.”

“We all know A Chorus Line as an incredible song and dance show,” Wales said, “and one of the quintessential modern American musicals. But its themes feel more relevant than ever. At its core, this is a show about the struggle to be seen for who you are and what you can bring to the world and it speaks in so many ways to the moment we are in right now.”

Next up, Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy Harvey, will be presented from July 5-15 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre, and will be directed by Seattle-based director Desdemona Chiang. Chiang’s credits include shows at leading regional theatres and companies across the country including Seattle Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, California Shakespeare Theater and Playmakers Repertory Company, among others.

Harvey is the charming story of Elwood P. Dowd, a kind and mild-mannered gentleman with a best friend who just happens to be a 6-foot-3 rabbit that only Elwood can see. When Elwood’s sister Veta prepares to launch her daughter into society, the family’s reputation is at stake and the wheels are set in motion for a story that shocks, entertains, and explores a variety of universal issues. “Harvey is about embracing exactly who we are, and about the love, hope and complications that family brings. It is a fun evening and provides us with a space to come together and experience joy.”

Joy is also at the heart of The Cocoanuts, a madcap comedy with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and a book by George S. Kaufman. In this new adaptation by Mark Bedard, The Cocoanuts comes to the Culbreth stage from July 19-29 and marks the Heritage return of actor/writer/director Frank Ferrante, who wowed audiences here in his award-winning one-man show An Evening with Groucho in 2014.

This time, we find Ferrante’s Groucho as the owner of a 1920’s no-star motel trying to bamboozle gullible tourists into toxic land deals as the great crash looms. Once Chico, Harpo, and company arrive on the scene, the comic mayhem meter goes to 11. “I had the pleasure of seeing Frank star in and direct A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum last fall,” Wales said, “and I was completely blown away by his talent, energy, and ability to connect with an audience.” Ferrante’s performance in Forum was recently cited by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 10 performances of 2017.

The 2018 Heritage season will close with The Mountaintop, which will be presented in the Ruth Caplin Theatre from July 26 through August 5. The Mountaintop will be directed by Kathryn Hunter-Williams. Hunter-Williams is a company member and director at PlayMakers Repertory Company and the Associate Director of Hidden Voices, a company committed to challenging, strengthening, and connecting diverse communities through the transformative power of the individual voice.

The Olivier award-winning play from Katori Hall is a fantastical imagining of Dr. Martin Luther King’s last night on earth. The story takes audiences inside room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 3, 1968, where an encounter between Dr. King and an anything-but-ordinary motel maid forces the civil rights icon to examine his own life and work. At turns moving, whimsical, and deeply human, Wales says “Producing this piece during the 50th anniversary year of Dr. King’s assassination and having it close almost a year after the tragic events of August 11 and 12 in Charlottesville, brings the opportunity for robust conversations around Dr. King’s legacy through this poetic re-imagining of his final night.”

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.

Heritage’s 2017 season subscribers will receive information on how to renew their subscriptions for the 2018 season in March.  New subscription sales will begin April 2, and single tickets will go on sale May 31.

The Cocoanuts is pending final confirmation of rights.

For more information, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.

David Weiss 1928 - 2017

Dear Friends,

It is with sadness that we share the news that David W. Weiss passed away on December 18, 2017. David may have “retired” from the Drama department after thirty-seven dedicated years, but he generously continued to offer care and support to Drama and the Heritage Theatre Festival. We are wholeheartedly grateful to David for his friendship and leadership –he will be dearly missed. Condolences may be offered to the family and memories of David may be shared atteaguefuneralhome.com. In the near future, the Department of Drama will join with David’s family to host a celebration of his life.

Sincerely,

Jenny Wales, Artistic Director, Heritage Theatre Festival

Colleen Kelly, Drama Department Chair

David Weiss obituary

 

That's a Wrap!

We so enjoyed having all of you in our theatres this summer!  Thank you for your tears and laughter, and for singing along, and for joining us for Talkback Tuesdays, Wine Wednesdays, Food Truck Fridays, and our Fourth of July picnic.  That was a first for Heritage and it was a blast!

Thank you to our 2017 Sustaining Sponsors: The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation and The University of Virginia College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and thanks to our 2017 Season Sponsors: The University of Virginia Department of Drama, The University of Virginia Arts Council, and the University of Virginia Office of The Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.  Many thanks to our Presenting Sponsors: 1st Dominion Title, BB&T, Charlottesville Settlement Company, The Compassionate Care Initiative of the UVA School of Nursing, Ednam Title, Michael Shaps Wineworks, Monticello Title, Real Estate III Title, Travinia Italian Kitchen, and Woodard Properties Developer of West 2nd and to our Media Sponsors: CBS19 News, C-Ville Weekly, WINA, WTJU, and WVPT.  Additional thanks go to our Community Sponsors: Clowns Without Borders, Payne Design Group, WNRN, and all of our volunteers. 

Heritage Theatre employed over 100 people to bring our summer season to you.  This talented group of artists, technicians, artisans, designers, actors, stitchers, directors, musicians, dressers, front of house staff, stage managers, and administrators worked tirelessly to create and present our season to you and we are so proud of the works they created!  Thank you 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival company – you rock!

Next year will be our 44th season and we hope you will join us for Jenny Wales’ (our new Artistic Director) inaugural season!

 

Interview with Robert Chapel

Welcome back to the blog! Today we managed to track down the elusive Bob Chapel and were able to ask him a few questions about his production of Company, which runs through Friday!

Hi Bob! Congratulations on a wonderful opening weekend! The buzz around the show is already amazing, and we wanted to do a quick follow up with you to learn a little more about you and the creative team’s process. You've been an integral part of the Heritage Theatre Festival for many, many years now - what was the process like when it came to deciding to direct Company? Did you bring the show to Colleen Kelly? Or was it something she wanted to do and knew you were the one for the job?

Colleen selected the show.  She called me up and asked if I would like to direct it and I said “yes."

Simple as that! That’s great. You and the designers have set the show in the 1970s - when the musical was originally written. What about the show made you want to ground it in that period?

Although the show is centered around the institution of marriage and deals with issues that are as relevant today as way back when, there are certain references that are very 1970s — “Will you call me tomorrow, or my service will explain” and scenes such as the dope smoking scene that would seem a bit dated were the show to be set in today’s world.  I also believe that there is less pressure to “be married” today than it was in the 70s.  The last production of the show on Broadway was a radical rendition with the cast also playing the instruments on stage.  I decided I wanted our audience to see what is a bit closer to what they would have seen when it was originally produced.  It was the show that really started to propel Stephen Sondheim onward to his extraordinary successes.

Company is a deeply personal musical, interlaced with a lot of wild characters and some pretty whacky moments - what work have you had to do with the cast to balance the comedy with the drama?

I always want my actors to play the truth — whether playing comedy or seriously dramatic moments (of which there a few in “Company”).  Comedy is very serious business and if actors commit to the moment, the situation, chances are the comedy will shine through.  I fortunately have a company of actors who understand this completely.  I am pleased with our comic moments and our serious moments throughout the evening.

So trusting the script and the performances to make that happen, that’s great. And now a little soft-ball: what has been your favorite part of working on Company this summer?

Working with this extraordinary cast — not only very talented but also very nice people.  Every day was a pleasure from beginning to opening night.

Thanks Bob, and congrats again on such a wonderful production. We wish you and the cast many broken legs for the rest of the run!

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