, U.Va.


The Festival Begins!

Welcome back to the Heritage Blog! Hard to believe we’re already here, but the first show of the Heritage Theatre Festival season opens this Friday! That’s right, you heard me, THIS FRIDAY. As in two days. From now. Unless you’re reading this late… in which case it might already be open and you’re missing it. Or maybe you’re reading it during intermission, in which case I hope you are enjoying yourself! If you don’t have tickets yet, get them now - the shows are selling out fast. Go, go, click the box office link above. Go on, I’ll wait…

Phew, isn’t that a relief? So, you’ve got your tickets for Middletown and you can’t wait to see it; but you’re thinking to yourself - what’s next? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s Woody Guthrie’s American Song. That’s what’s next. And trust me, you’re not going to want to miss this one either. I’ve been talking to the cast and they are tearing it up in rehearsals. This is a super talented group of musicians and actors, and actor-musicians; heck, there are even some musician-actors; and they are all looking forward to showing you what they’ve been up to in just 9 days time!

So we’ve mentioned that Woody Guthrie’s American Song is an exploration of Woody Guthrie’s catalog, but haven’t had the chance to talk about how the heck it all ties together into a show yet. The main through-line is that the cast of 5 take on several characters that embody the feeling of Guthrie’s music in different times and places. The amount of responsibilities our actors juggle is pretty amazing, they have to move seamlessly between scene and song, playing their own instruments, and beautifully weaving together tight, complex harmonies. Seriously, this music is beautiful.

Alisa Ledyard, a member of this band of intrepid performers, talked with us about how exciting it is to work on something that at the outset seems very simple, but when you break it down becomes increasingly intricate. And based on the laughter coming out of the rehearsal rooms, the rest of the creative team seems to be loving it, too.

I know what you are thinking now. You don’t want to wait 9 days! You want to see what this show is all about as soon as possible. Well, I have good news for you. If you head down to the Charlottesville City Market bright and early this Saturday, you will get to see the cast of Woody Guthrie’s American Song live and in person. The cast will be performing live from the Market on WTJU’s Atlantic Weekly show around 9:00am.

We can’t wait to see people turning up this weekend as Middletown gets things rolling, we’ve got a feeling that this is going to be a summer of theater to remember.

Heritage Theatre Festival Opens 2017 Season with Will Eno's MIDDLETOWN

Heritage Theatre Festival is kicking off its 2017 season with Will Eno’s critically-acclaimed play Middletown, a deeply moving and often funny look into the lives, loves, fears, and hopes of residents of a most typical small town that examines and challenges our views of what passes for “normal” in today’s world.

Middletown, directed by HTF Interim Artistic Director and UVA Drama Department Chair Colleen Kelly, will be presented in the Ruth Caplin Theatre from June 23 through July 1. Tickets for adults are $25 if purchased before June 23 and $30 if purchased on or after that date. Student/Child tickets are available for $15 regardless of when purchased. Single and season tickets for the 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival season 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.

Eno, once hailed by Christopher Isherwood of the New York Times as “Samuel Beckett for the Jon Stewart generation,” has said that Middletown owes an “inspiration debt” to Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, he was conscious to take the play in a decidedly different direction. The result is a story full of quirky neighbors and new friends where characters use disarming honesty to highlight both the absurdity and the poignancy of the millions of tiny moments that make up all of our lives. From the budding friendship between an expectant mother and an itinerant local handyman to the prickly observations of the local beat cop to the brooding, and clearly troubled, mechanic, Eno weaves a tapestry that can feel both surprising and familiar while serving up plenty of food for thought about all of our lives.

“What really appeals to me about this play is the playfulness of Will Eno’s language,” Kelly said. “Characters weave and vault between waxing poetic and making pedestrian observation about life.”

In addition, Kelly said, there is a universal nature to the situations in which the play’s characters find themselves. “Like the residents of Middletown, we are all alive in the ‘middle’ of something—a world created by past and future ancestors, an existence between birth and death, a day that spans a sunrise and sunset, or, as is the case with one character, just between two crappy jobs. Regardless of differences, we are all humans just breathing and trying to get through life a day at a time. One character in the play observes, ‘That’s the trouble, the beauty, the trouble.’”

The 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival will continue with Woody Guthrie’s American Song, an ensemble musical celebrating the life and songs of one of our nation’s true cultural treasures; (July 30-July 8 at the Culbreth Theatre); Chapatti, Christian O’Reilly’s touching drama about an unusual bond forged  by late-in-life neighbors around finding homes for their respective pets (July 6-15 in the Helms Theatre); Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, a madcap whodunit in which five actors play 40 characters (July 22-29 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre) and Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Company, featuring all-time classic Broadway hits like “Being Alive (July 28-August 4 in the Culbreth Theatre). Putting an exclamation point on the season’s proceedings this summer will be International Clown Hall of Fame member Barry Lubin, the face of the Big Apple Circus, who will bring his iconic and irrepressible character “Grandma” for performances at the Ruth Caplin Theatre on August 4 and 5.

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

Actors John Paul Scheidler, Chiquita Melvin, Priyanka Shetty, and Randy Risher in MIDDLETOWN.  Photo by Michael Bailey

Q&A with Colleen Kelly the Director of MIDDLETOWN

Middletown opens this weekend! What’s that?! You want to hear from the show’s director, Colleen Kelly? Well, you’re in luck! We here at the Heritage Blog got a chance to sit down and chat with her about the upcoming production, check it out below!

Hi Colleen, thanks for taking some time out of tech week to sit down with me and answer a few questions! I know you’re busy, so let’s not waste any time, what about Middletown first drew you to the play?

Two things. First, the story. I was intrigued by this contemporary spin on Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. The citizens of Middletown, however, are more diverse and quirky [than in Our Town] and I was captivated by how the characters deal with the challenges of a modern world. Second, I was drawn to Will Eno’s playful language. He has such a talent for juggling the poetic with the pedestrian and the profound with the simplistic.

Speaking of the citizens of Middletown, your cast spans a huge age and experience range, do you find yourself having to wear a bunch of different director hats to get the best out of everyone? 

I do, but nothing has been a surprise. When I was casting the show, I knew I wanted a company that reflected the age and life-experience of Middletown citizens. As a director, I try to adjust my own directing style and the rehearsal schedule to accommodate what the play demands and the cast needs. For example, I anticipated that a very young actor in the play might be shy about speaking her lines aloud so I scheduled time for her to lead a few vocal warmups with cast members to boost her confidence—during those times she was responsible for assuring actors had a strong physical presence and lines could be heard and understood.

That’s awesome, I’m sure everyone enjoyed that. You mentioned Will Eno’s wonderfully odd writing style, what are some things you are asking the actors to focus on when it comes to the text?

The play has several themes as through lines and Mr. Eno uses repetition of words and ideas throughout. I’ve asked the actors to be aware of connective themes in the play and be aware when other characters use the same words or phrases that they use, but, as characters, to stick to their specific point of view. It is OK if a theme takes a right turn in one scene and a left in another. It is OK if ideas have varying importance to characters in the play or a word has a different definition for one character than it has for another.

You referred to Middletown as a contemporary take on Our Town, do you find yourself leaning into that as a source of inspiration, or are you pulling away from those ideas?

That connection was certainly on my mind when I first decided to direct the play, but then I just focused on directing Middletown. The stories of the citizens of Wilder’s Grover’s Corners and Eno’s Middletown parallel in that people are born and people die and, during the time between, they just try to figure it all out. However, figuring it all out in 1938 is much different than figuring it all out in 2017.

What has been your favorite part of working on this play?

Throughout the whole rehearsal process, each actor has brought their unique talent and perspective to this story of Middletown, and it has been a joy to shape all of that into a cohesive message. The play has a prologue, 2 acts and 24 scenes. Another exciting element of directing this play—and, perhaps, the most challenging—is staging the flow between scenes. Sometimes the challenge is practical: how to get set pieces and actors on and off the stage. Sometimes the challenge is aesthetic: how to seamlessly continue a theme or abruptly change a point of view. Finding these solutions with the cast has been exciting, and I’m looking forward to sharing the work with our audience!

Thanks again for your time Colleen, best of luck with your final week of rehearsals, we’re all really looking forward to seeing the show!

Pop Quiz! What do a doctor, a pregnant woman, a handyman, and an astronaut have in common??

No, it’s not actually a quiz, I’ll tell you the answer: they were all just involved in the publicity photo shoot for Middletown. If that makes you wonder what the heck this play is about, then you are not alone! Our actors braved the Monday heat in order to get a great image that encapsulates just how wonderfully weird Will Eno’s play is. When they are not running around taking photos in costume our actors are rehearsing their tails off. Can you believe that we are only 9 days away from opening night?!

 With the premiere looming so close, Director Colleen Kelly has started gathering all the cast together now for runs of the show. This is a crucial period in the rehearsal process as all actors are now off-book (which means their lines are memorized) and they are really able to get a sense for how their character and scenes fit into the play as a whole. Noticing one little detail in another scene can inspire an actor to change something massive about their own performance. These early runs are also a great opportunity for Colleen to start doing her work of shaping the overall flow and focus of the play. It’s important that this is where all the performance elements are worked out because in a few short days Middletown will enter tech week, which is the opportunity for all of our technical staff to make refinements to their various designs. While nothing in live theatre is ever set in stone (that’s what we love about it), for the sake of the designers, the actors are asked to be as show ready as possible when tech week begins; and from my sneaky little peek at rehearsal yesterday (shh don’t tell anyone…) I think they’re in great shape.

Across the lobby another show is cranking their amps up to 11 and forging ahead as well. One of the cool things about a festival like this is that there is always something new happening in the building, a new show opens nearly every week so there is never a lack of work to be done! To describe Woody Guthrie’s American Song as a horse of a different color, from Middletown, would be an understatement. While there are many characters and scenes in the show, the central character is Guthrie’s music. Rehearsals almost resemble band practice as much as anything else! Stay tuned (get it?*) for more details on Woody Guthrie’s American Song as things progress, but I assure you, this is a show that you will not want to miss. See y'all next week!

Welcome to our Company Profile Series on the HTF Blog!

Today it is our pleasure to introduce you to amazing Shelby Edwards, our Company Manager. Read on to learn more about her and what she does here at Heritage!

Q: Many people might be unfamiliar with the role of a Company Manager, how would you describe what it is that you do?

A:The best description I have for Company Manager would be "Company Mom". In short I aid in making sure each company member has all of their needs met while working with Heritage Theatre Festival. This includes setting up living arrangements, transporting company members to and from the airport and/or train station, and ensuring their stay here in Charlottesville is one that is high quality. Additional responsibilities include checking mail daily, attending weekly production meetings and sending emails to the company as needed.

Q: How did you first get involved in theatre? When did you fall in love with it?

A: I was first involved with theatre as an adolescent, I did a vaudeville performance camp. I really fell in love with theatre my senior year of high school when I was in a local production of In the Heights and I am reminded why I love theatre everyday when I come to work.

Q: What is your favorite play or musical?

A: My favorite musical is Once on This Island and my dream role is "Ti Moune"

Q: What is your favorite thing to do around Cville?

A: My favorite thing to do in Charlottesville is my volunteer work with young adults. Once a week I visit the Music Resource Center on Ridge street. I grew as an artist substantially through that program and I think it is imperative to give back to the community. 

Q: When you aren’t working in theatre what keeps you busy?

A: I run an open mic night in the Charlottesville Area called "CVille Series" in partnership with the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center, located downtown. This season we are having an open mic once a month, with the first falling on June 9th at 7.

Q: You are stuck on a desert island, you can only bring one book, one movie, one tv show, and two items of food - what do you choose?

A: If I were stuck on a desert island I would bring To Kill A Mockingbird, the movie Beyond The Lights, and my favorite show is Empire so I'd bring that too. My two food items of choice would avocado and carrots.

Q: What show are you most looking forward to this season?

A: Ok, so I know I said my favorite musical is Once on This Island, but Company is my other other favorite show. I saw it for the first time in high school and I'm probably going to cry when I see it opening night.

Q: Dogs or Cats?

A: Dogs because most cats have an attitude problem.

Q: Pepsi or Coke?

A: Coke because it was my mother's favorite soda!

What a week it has been!

What a week it has been! Since our company meeting last week, things have really kicked into overdrive here in Cville. All of our departments are working non-stop to bring our season to life, from costume fittings and painting parties to voice-over recordings, rehearsals, and everything in between. We recently spoke to some of the cast members of Middletown and they are loving their rehearsals so far.  Building a community as weird and as wacky as the one in Middletown seems to be a blast, and our actors are taking on all walks of life in this poignant Will Eno comedy. Heck, there’s even an astronaut! Right now Director Colleen Kelly is taking time to work with each scene and character individually to make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle are well formed before they are finally all put together.

Rehearsals for Woody Guthrie’s American Song kicked off this week as well. We have an amazing group of actor-musicians who are really excited to bring Woody Guthrie’s unique brand of Americana to the Heritage stage. Under the direction of Bryan Garey, Woody Guthrie’s American Song will be a nostalgia trip for some and an introduction of one of America’s greatest ever folk artists to others. Whether you only know “This Land is Your Land”, or you are a super-fan and know all the sounds in “Car Song”, we can’t wait to talk to you more about the process of building this wonderful show.

While we are working very hard here at HTF, we also recognize that it’s summertime and every theatre festival requires a little play! (see what I did there? **) So, with that in mind, we let our very own Steve Warner loose on the grill and had our first Company Cookout of the season. If you can imagine it, we grilled it… well, so long as what you are imagining is limited to burgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, and hotdogs! We rounded the protein out with tons of chips and a variety of Oreos the likes of which has never been seen outside of a Nabisco factory. Naturally, all Company members were invited so it was a fantastic opportunity for all of us to connect with each other, munch on some great food, and enjoy a brief respite from all the rain we’ve had in central Virginia.

Several of our Company members have also been out and about - enjoying all that this fantastic area has to offer. Recent (not so adventurous) adventures have included strolling along the beautiful downtown mall equipped with ice creams followed by a visit to the IX Art Park.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the other super exciting piece of news from this week: INDIVIDUAL TICKETS GO ON SALE ON FRIDAY! Woohoo! We at the blog squad got a chance to chat with some of our phenomenal box office staff, and they are excited to help everyone get to see our shows this summer. If you’re reading this after June 9th, then what are you waiting for? Go click that box office tab so you can come see the culmination of all our burger-fueled hard work!

- The Blog Squad

** What I did was a pun.


Welcome to the Heritage Theatre Festival Blog!

Welcome to the Heritage Theatre Festival Blog! We hope you’ll join us here a couple of times a week to get an awesome behind the scenes look at everything that’s happening around the festival, from updates, to company member profiles, director interviews, thoughts from the Artistic Director, AND MORE!

Why a blog you ask? Well, why not a blog?! But actually, we were inspired by all the excitement our fabulous Kick-Off Reception and our very first 2017 Company Meeting generated. We thought, wouldn’t it be cool if those worlds could interact a little more? And voilá! A blog is born! As you may or may not know, all of our Tuesday performances are followed by Talkbacks with the artistic team - and we would love to see you there! But if you can’t make it to those performances we don’t want to leave you out in the cold *** ! We encourage you to watch our Facebook live stream of the talkbacks shortly after the performance ends. We also encourage you to jump into the comment sections both here (still in progress) and on social media to ask your burning questions or simply share your thoughts about what we’re up to this summer in Cville.

Speaking of what we’re up to, we are already well underway working on our first show of the season: Will Eno’s deeply touching and darkly hilarious Middletown. Director (and interim Artistic Director) Colleen Kelly has started rehearsals with our wonderfully talented cast, while our phenomenal technical crew is hard at work creating the world for our actors to inhabit. At this point in the process both sides are approaching the play with a rough sketch; creating the outline and looking at the big picture of what they want to achieve before filling that sketch with the color and the life that you will ultimately see on stage starting June 23rd! Hopefully we will see you back here every week, so we can share even more of the details and fun that we’re having all summer long. If you aren’t already doing so, we’d LOVE to have you follow us on all our social media channels which are listed below for your convenience - but you can also always simply search for the one and only Heritage Theater Festival to find us wherever we are. Thanks for reading, and we can’t wait to see you in our theatres!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeritageTheatreFestival/

Twitter: @uvahtf

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heritagetheatrefestival/


- The HTF Blog Squad

*** Please note it will not actually, or EVER be cold in Charlottesville over the summer!

Heritage Theatre Festival Names UVA Grad Jenny Wales as New Artistic Director

Danville Native Is Longtime Actor, Educator, and Arts Administrator; Most Recently Served As Associate Producer and Director of Education and Outreach for PlayMakers Repertory Company at UNC

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – May 15, 2017 – The University of Virginia Department of Drama has announced the appointment of UVA alumna Jenny Wales as the new Artistic Director for Heritage Theatre Festival.  The announcement was made by interim Heritage Artistic Director and Drama Department Chair Colleen Kelly at a reception to kick off the upcoming HTF season.

Wales, a Danville, Virginia native, is a 1998 graduate of the University of Virginia, and earned a Master’s Degree in acting from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival/University of Alabama.  She has appeared in productions in New York and at regional theatres across the country.  Wales relocated from New York to Chapel Hill, and in 2011 joined PlayMakers Repertory Company.  As Associate Producer and Director of Education and Outreach, Wales played a key role in leading the organization during an unprecedented period of growth.  Wales’ wide range of roles included producing six mainstage and three second stage productions each year, spearheading the acclaimed PRC2 series, which combines each performance with a post-show discussion, acting as the company’s casting director, leading successful major grant applications, participating in creative marketing efforts, and continuing to develop and expand PlayMakers’ award-winning education programs.  Wales taught undergraduate and graduate drama classes while at the University of North Carolina, in addition to guest lecturing in departments including Political Science, African, African American and Diaspora Studies, Communication Studies, American Studies, Geography and Psychology and Neuroscience.

 “We are so happy to welcome Jenny Wales back to Grounds and back to the Drama Department,” Kelly said. “Her keen artistic sensibilities, unique array of talents and unbridled enthusiasm make her the perfect candidate to lead Heritage into the future, and we all look forward to working with and supporting her in those efforts.”

“I am excited, humbled, and honored to have the opportunity to give back to and serve the University of Virginia community that has given me so much,” Wales said. “The University, and specifically the Drama Department, taught me so much about who I wanted to be as an artist, and clarified the importance of being a citizen scholar. I look forward to honoring the Heritage legacy by pioneering a new path for the future.”

The timing of the appointment, Wales said, only adds to her excitement. “There is a robust opportunity, with so much change happening across UVA, from the search for a new president to the arrival of Matthew McLendon as the Director of the Fralin Museum of Art and a soon-to-be announced new Director for the Charlottesville Symphony at UVA. This is a great time on the Grounds for us to reinvent, to find new partnerships, and to reimagine how we as artists intersect with the University and Charlottesville communities.”

The 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival season will open in the Ruth Caplin Theatre on June 23 with Middletown, playwright Will Eno’s flippant-yet-poignant look at the ways in which the residents of an American small town battle life’s absurdities as they strive to live “normal” lives. The season will continue with Woody Guthrie’s American Song, highlighting the life and songs of one of our nation’s most beloved and inspirational troubadours; Chapatti , the endearing tale of a late-in-life pair who discover unexpected second chances; Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, a madcap comedy whodunit in which five actors play over 40 characters; Steven Sondheim’s classic musical Company; and a special season ending treat courtesy of International Clown Hall of Fame member and the face of the Big Apple Circus Barry Lubin, who will reprise his beloved “Grandma” character for a riotous romp of a one-man-show!

Heritage Theatre Festival Announces 2017 Season


Charlottesville’s Most Beloved Summer Theatre Tradition To Continue With Lineup To Include Middletown; Woody Guthrie’s American Song; Chapatti; Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, and The Return of Bob Chapel Directing Sondheim’s Classic Company

Auditions to Be Held On Saturday, February 25

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – February 13, 2017 – This summer, Heritage Theatre Festival audiences can look forward to a season that combines exciting new discoveries, an American musical treasure, madcap mystery and one of the theatre world’s most beloved modern musicals.  And as if that is not enough, Heritage is throwing in a postseason treat in the form of a one-person-show by a circus legend who has brought his iconic act to all seven continents!

Heritage will kick off its 43rd year with playwright Will Eno’s Middletown, a flippant-yet-poignant take on small town life in the most average of the average hamlets, where the population and elevation are both stable, and the main street is called – you guessed it –  Main Street! Yet the more we see the townsfolk battle life’s absurdities in their efforts to become “normal” human beings,  the more we can see ourselves in those battles in a play that takes us a long way from Wilder’s Grover’s Corners, and often right to the heart of what it means to live and love in our world today.

Middletown will be presented in the Ruth Caplin Theatre from June 23 through July 1.

The resilience and tenacity of the human spirit comes to life in Woody Guthrie’s American Song. This ensemble musical presents a collection of the legendary writer and performer’s inspiring folk anthems, which were written in response to the trials of the depression era in America, yet continue to reflect all times and speak to all people. The show was conceived and adapted by Peter Glazer and features orchestrations and vocal arrangements by Jeff Waxman.

Woody Guthrie’s American Song will be presented in the Culbreth Theatre from June 30-July 8.

Two late-in-life neighbors searching for homes for their respective pets find an unusual bond in Chapatti, a touching drama from Irish playwright Christian O’Reilly. The production will mark a reunion of another sort as recently-retired Drama faculty members Richard Warner and his wife Judith Reagan take the HTF stage together for the first time since the 1992 production of A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Chapatti will be presented from July 6-15 in the Helms Theatre.

There is nothing elementary about Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery. The classic game is afoot, but the players may well outnumber the clues in Ludwig’s madcap adventure featuring five actors playing 40 characters. Join Holmes and Watson as they brave the desolate moors before the Baskerville family curse dooms its newest heir.

Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery will be presented in the Ruth Caplin Theatre from July 22-29.

Robert Chapel, who retired in 2015 after 29 years at the Heritage helm, returns this summer to direct Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical Company. Featuring such Sondheim classics as “The Ladies Who Lunch” and “Being Alive,” Company tells the story of Robert, a confirmed bachelor who on the night of his 35th birthday begins contemplating his unmarried state. After a hilarious array of interactions with advice-giving married couples and temporary girlfriends, Robert finds himself questioning his commitment to bachelorhood. The show features music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by George Furth.

Company will be presented in Culbreth Theatre from July 28-August 4.

This year Heritage audiences are in for a an extra dose of fun courtesy of Barry Lubin, an international circus star who has peddled his particular brand of hilarity as “Grandma,” the iconic face of the Big Apple Circus, for 25 years. Inducted into the International Clown Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Sarasota Ring of Fame in 2012 (the highest honor in the American Circus), Barry was the recipient of the Lou Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Last year he literally went where no clown has gone before when he became the first clown ever to have performed on all seven continents! In addition to performing his acclaimed show in the Ruth Caplin Theatre on August 4 & 5, Barry will also join UVA’s acclaimed resident clown Tim Cunningham and some of his fellow merrymakers for a series of workshops on the art of clowning.

All shows are pending final acquisition of rights.

Auditions will be held for the 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival season on Saturday, February 25, 2017 between 9:30-4:00 in the UVA Drama Building at 109 Culbreth Road. Information on the auditions is available at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.  Those unable to attend this on-site audition may submit a video audition with headshot and resume by March 15 to: heritage@virginia.edu.

Heritage’s 2016 season subscribers will receive information on how to renew their subscriptions for the 2017 season in early April.  New subscription sales will begin April 17, and single tickets will go on sale June 9. For more information on the upcoming summer season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit www.heritagetheatrefestival.org.

Heritage Theatre Festival to Wrap Up 2016 Season with Hilarious One-Man Show "The Wonder Bread Years"


Love Letter to Growing Up in 1970s America Created and Performed By Seinfeld and Tonight Show Writer Pat Hazell Takes Audiences Back to Lawn Darts, Family Station Wagons, and More

Opens August 2 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – July 21, 2016 – The 2016 Heritage Theatre Festival season will close on a hilarious and nostalgic note with the acclaimed one-man-show The Wonder Bread Years. Written and performed by Seinfeld and The Tonight Show writer Pat Hazell and opening August 2 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre, the show is a comedic and wistful love letter to growing up in the simpler times of 1970s America.

As a former writer for Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, and Co., Pat Hazell knows how to make something funny out of nothing. In his acclaimed The Wonder Bread Years, Hazell is the highly-entertaining chaperone on a “field trip back in time.” This nationally touring one-man show is a warm and funny salute to Americana and a nostalgic and comedic love letter to Baby Boomers everywhere that comes complete with tales of Country Squire station wagons, lawn darts, Big Wheels, Eskimo Pies, and a sense of wonder that is much needed in today’s world. Seinfeld himself calls the show “milk-snortingly funny.”

The Wonder Bread Years, starring Pat Hazell, will be presented at the Ruth Caplin Theatre from August 2-6 at 8pm, and on August 6 at 2pm. Tickets are $25.00 if purchased prior to August 2, and $30.00 if purchased after that date. Student tickets are $15.00. Tickets are available online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org, by phone at 434-924-3376, or at the UVA Arts Box Office, located in the lobby of the Drama Building.

“I generally look at this show as an homage to our sense of wonder, where we lost it, and how we get it back,” Hazell said. “I discovered when I was doing The Tonight Show that my sense of humor was often very reflective, and that I was really charmed by the holidays and cereal prizes and riding in the back of the station wagon, and people seemed to latch onto this. That is where I found my voice as a standup comic, and this is an extension of that, with a little bit of multimedia, some family slide shows, some film strips, and a general setting that is familiar to a lot of folks in terms of flashing back to simpler times. The show really hits a sweet spot for anyone who is wanting to go back into the attic in their mind to look through all their favorite memories.”

The show’s success, Hazell said, can be tied largely to the great appeal of storytelling. “I think that storytelling is contagious,” he said. “If you think about when you sit down to dinner at Thanksgiving or another time, what happens is one person tells a story that reminds somebody of another story, and it goes from there. The take-home value of this show is that people think of all the toys and games and jingles and recipes that were specific to their own lives. That generates a certain amount of joy, and that nostalgia is generally associated with something evocative that allows them to share the stories with somebody else.”

Hazell particularly enjoys the fact that this audience engagement means that no two shows are ever the same. “The audience comes on board and sometimes will tell a story that makes the people around them say ‘You never told me that!’”

The Heritage Theatre Festival is hosted by the University of Virginia Department of Drama, and the Heritage 2016 Season is presented by The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the UVA Department of Drama, the University of Virginia College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for the Arts.

The Heritage Theatre Festival’s production of The Wonder Bread Years is supported by Travinia Italian Kitchen and CBS 19.

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

To access photos of this production, visit is https://virginia.box.com/s/g7c03p0lmbkpidi19957wnlt9xdu1pkq.

For more information on Heritage’s 2016 summer season, visit heritagetheatrefestival.org.


Thank you to our 2018 Sustaining and Season Sponsors