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Heritage Theatre Festival to Present Jane Austen As You've Never Seen Her Before in Kate Hamill's Raucous Reimagining of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

 Olivia Abiassi and Terrell Donnell Sledge

Pictured:  Olivia Abiassi (Lizzy) and Terrell Donnell Sledge (Mr. Darcy)

You may have seen or read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, but this summer, Heritage Theatre Festival’s got news for you: You’ve never seen it quite like this!

HTF will present Kate Hamill’s acclaimed farcical reimagining of the beloved classic, opening on July 12 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre. The fun-filled, fast-paced farce, directed by Estefanía Fadul, will feature a talented cast of eight actors doubling up on roles and doubling down on laughter while highlighting the enduring relevance of its central themes including love, marriage, societal expectations, and the weight of the choices we make.

The cast for Heritage Theatre Festival’s production of Pride and Prejudice will include Shanelle Leonard as Jane/Miss deBourgh; Olivia Abiassi as Lizzy; Ryleigh Tatum as Lydia/Lady Catherine; Terrell Donnell Sledge as Mr. Darcy; Jeremy West as Mr. Collins/Wickham/Miss Bingley; Carol Mazhuvancheril as Mr. Bingley/Mary; Christopher Seiler as Charlotte Lucas/Mr. Bennet; and Denise Stewart as Mrs. Bennet/Servants. Additional creative team members include: Yu Shibagaki  (Scenic Designer); Mieka van der Ploeg (Costume Designer); R. Lee Kennedy (Lighting Designer); Michael Rasbury (Composer and Sound Designer); and Andrew Carluccio (Production Stage Manager).

Estefanía Fadul is a New Hampshire-raised, New York City-based director and producer with a passion for working on new plays, musicals, and reimagined classics. Fadul’s recent directing work includes the world premieres of Christina Quintana’s Azul (Southern Rep) and Scissoring (INTAR, off-Broadway); Stefan Ivanov’s The Same Day (Sfumato, Theatre, Bulgaria); James Anthony Tyler’s Around 2 (Keen Teens); and the Spanish-language musical Óye Oyá by Rebecca Martinez and Rodolfo Ortega (Milagro). She has developed new work off-Broadway and regionally at The Playwright’s Realm, The Drama League, Artists Repertory Theatre, LPAC, Hi Arts, and Fresh Ground Pepper, and has directed at universities and training programs including Juilliard, NYU, SUNY Purchase, and the Atlantic Conservatory. Fadul is a recipient of multiple fellowships including the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center/NNPN’s National Director Project’s Fall Fellowship; and the Foeller Fellowship at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is a member of the New Georges Jam and the Latinx Theatre Company steering committee, and a former member of the Civilians’ R&D Group and the Lincoln Center Theatre Directors Lab.

“One of the things I love about this adaptation is the idea that an audience member may walk in expecting their grandmother’s Pride and Prejudice,” Fadul said, “but what they get is this incredible fun, funny, kind of absurdist sort of game of matchmaking, and really, of life. It’s almost as if the audience becomes spectators at a sporting match. And, hopefully, they will in some ways be able to see themselves reflected in who they are rooting for, and to find some relevance to their own lives.”

This new way of looking at the story, Fadul said, also highlights the ongoing relevance of Austen’s words and themes of love, life, and the choices we make, even more than a century after they were first written. “I feel like what Kate Hamill has done here is allow us to look at this piece through a contemporary lens. A huge part of the story has to do with social norms – this idea of what are the things that we are expected to do, or to be given, in the society in which we live. It makes us think about the roles we take on based on gender, or race, or physical appearance.”

While the play is and has always been about love, Fadul said that the adaptation allows you to see a larger picture as well. “Austen is clearly looking specifically at love here in terms of asking what it means to find the perfect match. She exposes general themes of appearances and first impressions as clouding our ability to see who a person is on the inside. We get so blinded by, essentially, our pride and our prejudice. As this kind of game unfolds in this adaptation, I think it expands that idea out a bit and looks at what it means to make the right choices in our lives. We can never know for certain whether something is the right choice or the right match, given that there are so many circumstantial pieces that play into it all."

The 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season will kick off with the rock and roll musical Million Dollar Quartet (June 28 - July 7, Culbreth Theatre). The season will also feature the beloved drama Steel Magnolias (July 26-August 4, Culbreth Theatre); and The Niceties (August 2-11, Ruth Caplin Theatre), a powerful drama of race, power, privilege, and who gets to tell our story.

Season subscriptions for Heritage Theatre Festival are currently available online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org; Single tickets will go on sale beginning June 5, and will be available, along with season subscriptions, online, by phone at 434-924-3376, or in person at the UVA Arts Box Office  in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building on Culbreth Road.

HERITAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL SEASON-OPENING PRODUCTION OF MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET TO FEATURE DIRECTOR, MUSICAL DIRECTOR, AND CAST MEMBERS FROM SHOW’S NATIONAL TOUR

Story of Incredible Evening at Sun Studios Featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins To Open At Culbreth Theatre on June 28

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – April 29, 2019 – Heritage Theatre Festival is preparing to get its 2019 season off to a rocking start with the Tony Award-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. The show tells the story of the momentous night of December 4, 1956, when legendary Sun Studios owner Sam Phillips brought together musical icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis for a one-time-only jam session for the ages.

The production, set to launch on June 28 at the Culbreth Theatre, will be directed by Tim Seib, who has directed multiple productions of the show including the most recent national tour. Seib will work alongside Jon Rossi, MDQ national tour musical director, and MDQ tour veterans Austin Hohnke (Carl Perkins) and Peter Oyloe (Johnny Cash), as well as Trevor Dorner (Jerry Lee Lewis), the understudy from the tour. The cast will also feature Jacob Barton as Elvis Presley, Taylor Kraft as Dyanne, and Adam Poole as Sam Phillips. Rossi will play the role of Fluke and Bill Morey will be featured as Brother Jay. Additional creative team members include: Batul Rizvi (Scenic Design), Anna Grywalski (Costume Design) and R. Lee Kennedy (Lighting Design).

Million Dollar Quartet, with a Tony Award-nominated book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux and original concept and direction by Mutrux, features a hit parade of tunes that has had audiences on Broadway and across the world rocking in their seats and sometimes dancing in the aisles, including Blue Suede Shoes, Fever, Great Balls of Fire, Folsom Prison Blues, Hound Dog, and more.

The show differs from other “jukebox musicals,” Seib said, in that it uses its unique setting and musical moment to give audiences fascinating insights into the lives and careers of the four artists. “People get so much more than just the classic hits in this show,” Seib said. “They get to meet these people in the place where they were all discovered and at a time when they were still very early in their careers. You get these little vignettes of what their origin stories were in addition to witnessing the magic that happened in that room on that night.”

Another thing that sets this show apart, Seib said, is the fact that all of the music made on stage is made by the performers themselves. “The fact that there is no supplemental backup band, and that everything you hear is being generated on stage, provides a kind of electric energy that you just don’t get from a typical musical.”

The music, Rossi said, has a distinctly multi-generational appeal. “One of my favorite things is when we have younger people come out to the show. I have heard so many young people who literally don’t know any of these names, except maybe Elvis or Johnny Cash, and they fall in love with it and think it is new and that the music we are making on stage is revolutionary. I love sharing this music and this energy with these kids and to watch them fall in love with it.”

The experience of bringing together a cast for the show, Seib said, gives him an understanding of what Sam Phillips must have experienced on that magical night. “I feel a little like Sam Phillips in that I am so excited to get all of these wonderful and talented people in the same room and to feel what the energy is like. It is what makes revisiting this show so exciting. The dynamic is always going to be different based on who is in the room.”

Another exciting aspect of this production for Seib is the opportunity for the company to take its time to build and present the show as opposed to being constrained by the often-harsh realities of a tour schedule. “Jenny Wales and her whole team at Heritage are so excited and so committed to putting the whole weight of their production power behind this show and I am really looking forward to working with them to present a full-scale production that really allows us to pull out all the stops.”

The 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season will also include Kate Hamill’s rollicking reimagination of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (July 12-21, Ruth Caplin Theatre) the beloved Steel Magnolias (July 26-August 4, Culbreth Theatre); and The Niceties (August 2-11, Ruth Caplin Theatre), a powerful drama of race, power, privilege, and who gets to tell our story.

Season subscriptions for Heritage Theatre Festival are currently available online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org; by phone at 434-924-3376, or in person at the UVA Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building on Culbreth Road. Single tickets will go on sale on June 5.

For more information on the upcoming 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.

 

HERITAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF JEN ROGERS AS MANAGING DIRECTOR

Rogers Brings Highly Successful Arts Management Track Record Including New York’s Legendary Public Theater, Duke Performances And PlayMakers Repertory Company

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – April 16, 2019 – Heritage Theatre Festival at The University of Virginia has announced the appointment of Jen Rogers as Managing Director. Rogers, a highly-successful arts management professional, comes to Heritage from PlayMakers Repertory Company, the professional theatre at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she worked as General Manager in partnership with Jenny Wales, who is now entering her second season as HTF Artistic Director.

Rogers’ resume also includes working with The Public Theater and its renowned summer Shakespeare in the Park series, as well as touring the world with Shen Wei Dance Arts and working internationally at the Royal Opera House Muscat (Oman). She also worked as Production Manager for Duke University’s Duke Performances. This work provided Rogers with a comprehensive understanding of the production process, which served her well in her transition to the administrative side of the business with her move to PlayMakers. It was there that she first met and teamed with Wales. “We really settled into a terrific partnership where I serve as sort of the yin to her yang. She is the artist and I am the administrative side, dealing with things like contracts. We work really well together. She gets to focus on her strengths as an artistic visionary, and I get to use my skills to help her implement those visions.”

The feeling, Wales said, is mutual. “I am absolutely delighted to have Jen join the Heritage team and to continue what has been a highly successful professional partnership,” she said. “I am thrilled for her to work with our extraordinary Heritage team to continue to expand our footprint on Grounds, in our community, and beyond, and to build on our rich artistic legacy as an organization.”

Part of that growth, Rogers said, can come from expanding the Heritage footprint on Grounds, in the local community, and on the national theatre scene. “Heritage has built a great reputation over its 45 years and is beloved by so many in our community. What Jenny and I would love to do is to lead a coordinated effort to bring even more people into the Heritage experience, building on what she was able to do during her successful first season.”

This work, she said, will be done in concert with important and ongoing efforts to connect with communities on Grounds, in the region, and beyond. “We want to continue and expand efforts to engage with our community partners who can be our voices, and who can share and benefit from the vibrant and important work happening on our stages,” Rogers said, citing the kinds of outreach efforts that surrounded last year’s powerful production of The Mountaintop. “We want to do more than ask our community to come see what we have to offer; we want to learn from our community and encourage them to be invested in what we are doing in a way that can both highlight and celebrate what the arts can mean to all of us.”

The 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season begins on June 27 with the Tony Award-winning rock and roll musical Million Dollar Quartet, and will also include Kate Hammill’s rollicking  reimagination of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; the beloved Steel Magnolias; and The Niceties, a powerful drama of race, power, privilege, and who gets to tell our story.

Season subscriptions for Heritage Theatre Festival are currently available online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org; by phone at 434-924-3376, or in person at the UVA Arts Box Office in the lobby of the UVA Drama Building on Culbreth Road. Single tickets will go on sale on June 5.

For more information on the upcoming 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.

HERITAGE THEATRE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 45th ANNIVERSARY SEASON

The Professional Theatre Company At The University of Virginia To Present Tony-Nominated Musical Million Dollar Quartet; Kate Hamill’s Acclaimed Adaptation of Pride and Prejudice;
Robert Harling’s Beloved Steel Magnolias; and Eleanor Burgess’s Powerful, Thought-Provoking The Niceties

Auditions Set For February 23 and 24

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Wednesday, February 13 – This summer, Heritage Theatre Festival will be back to celebrate its 45th year with a season that explores concepts of connection and community from a variety of fascinating, entertaining, and engaging angles.

The season will kick off on June 28 with the Tony-nominated musical Million Dollar Quartet at the Culbreth Theatre. Next up will be Kate Hamill’s whimsically raucous and romantic adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, followed by Robert Harling’s widely adored Steel Magnolias.  Closing out the 45th anniversary season is The Niceties, by Eleanor Burgess, a timely and explosive look at how we think and talk about race, history, and power.

“We did not set out to create this season around a unifying theme,” said Heritage Theatre Festival Artistic Director, Jenny Wales, “but I was struck by the way themes revealed themselves through our choices. What we found is that this season is very much about community and connection, both of which are integral in our continued work to bridge the gaps between us, and to move forward as a University community and as part of the larger community here in Charlottesville. Each play addresses community in its own way while creating dynamic theatrical experiences that will bring people together to laugh, to think, to feel, and to engage with one another.”

On December 4, 1956, four of the greatest legends of rock and roll came together for an impromptu jam session at Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Million Dollar Quartet takes us on a journey of this incredible day, when the ultimate supergroup of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis came together for the first and only time to run through their respective megahits, like Lewis’ Whole Lotta Shaking Going On, Perkins’ Blue Suede Shoes, Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, and Presley’s Hound Dog, among others.  Featuring a wildly talented cast of actors and musicians, Colin Escott’s and Floyd Mutrux’s Tony-nominated smash hit has had audiences on Broadway and beyond jumping to their feet night after night.

Million Dollar Quartet will play from June 28 through July 7 in the Culbreth Theatre.

Next up will be Kate Hamill’s acclaimed and innovative adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a play that asks the age-old question: “What turns us into greater fools…than the high-stakes game of love?” Hamill’s answer comes in a form that gives us Austen as we’ve never experienced her before. The tale of the outspoken Lizzy Bennett, whose determination to avoid marriage in the face of crushing social pressure is tested by the dashingly handsome, mildly amusing, impossibly aggravating, and remarkably ubiquitous Mr. Darcy. The sweeping tale is told here by a dynamic eight-person cast who double up on roles and double down on laughter, whimsy, and romance, making for a highly entertaining journey for audiences of all ages.

Pride and Prejudice will run from July 12-21 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre

Robert Harling’s beloved Steel Magnolias centers around the sharp, strong, witty, and big-hearted cast of characters inside Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana. Truvy dispenses shampoos, scathing wisecracks, and free advice, all delivered in equal measure and with her signature flair, to a group of dynamic, hilarious, and resilient women. When tragedy enters the picture, the women offer powerful and universal lessons in sacrifice, love, and the importance of building friendships and memories that can sustain us forever.

Steel Magnolias will run from July 26-August 4 in the Culbreth Theatre.

The Heritage Theatre Festival’s 45th Anniversary season will conclude with The Niceties, an incisive, thought-provoking play by Eleanor Burgess. When Zoe, an African-American student, meets with her white professor to discuss a paper about slavery’s role in the American Revolution, what begins as a polite conversation turns into a powder keg of race, history, and power that fundamentally changes both women. The Washington Post called The Niceties “…a barnburner of a play!” and “one of the best plays I’ve seen about who gets to tell our story and how.”   Wales agrees: “Who has told, is telling and will tell our story as a country and as a community? This is a prescient piece as we continue in our efforts to build bridges and to explore the ways in which we talk to one another, and more importantly, how we listen to one another.” Just as it did with last season’s The Mountaintop, Heritage will host community conversations following each performance of The Niceties.

The Niceties will run from August 2-11 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre.

Auditions for the 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season will be held on Saturday, February 23 between 10am and 5pm and on Sunday, February 24 between 1pm and 5pm in the UVA Drama Building at 109 Culbreth Road. Information on auditions is available at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org/auditions. Those unable to attend this on-site audition may submit a headshot and resume by March 1 to heritage@virginia.edu.

Heritage Theatre Festival’s 2018 season subscribers will receive information on how to renew their subscriptions for the 45th Anniversary season in mid-March. New subscription sales will begin on April 8 and single tickets will go on sale on June 5.  

For more information on the upcoming 2019 Heritage Theatre Festival season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.

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.

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