A Look Back at the 2019 Season
Last summer’s record-breaking Heritage Theatre Festival season got off to a literal rocking start…and never looked back! The season-opening, foot-stomping, and aisle-dancing musical Million Dollar Quartet captured the magical night of December 4, 1956, when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins came together in Sam Phillips’ Sun studios for a one-night-only jam session for the ages. In addition to taking audiences on a jukebox journey to remember, the show kept box office workers on their toes, breaking the all-time Heritage sales record! Audiences then enjoyed a look at Jane Austen as they’ve never seen her before in Kate Hamill’s rousing adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in the Ruth Caplin Theatre. The show may have set its own Heritage record for on-stage costume changes as eight actors seamlessly swapped frocks and genders on their way to present a fabulous, farcical, and topical look at this sweeping tale of love and romance. The on-stage action then went to rural Louisiana for Steel Magnolias, Robert Harling’s hilarious and moving invitation to the world of the strong, sharp-witted, and heart-filled women of Truvy’s Hair Salon – produced to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the beloved film the play inspired. The season concluded on a powerful note with The Niceties, an acclaimed play by Eleanor Burgess that examines issues of race, power, and history through an interaction between Zoe, a young, African-American student, and her older, white professor.
The play challenges audiences to consider the importance of listening to each other, and to examine the consequences when we don't. Each performance was followed by a community conversation featuring members of the Charlottesville and UVA communities, including Niya Bates, Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life at Monticello; Maurice Wallace, Associate Professor of English; Keisha John, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion; and Deborah McDowell, Carter G. Woodson Institute Director, among others, that allowed audiences to share their responses to the play, and to the critically important issues it addressed.
"I am incredibly proud of the artistic experiences we were able to share with our audiences this summer," Heritage Artistic Director Jenny Wales said. "And so thankful for the extraordinary artists who came together to make all of it happen.
The work we produced this season was created by a company of more than 100 theatre professionals from across the country who shared their expertise and their talent to create theatre that made an impact on our community." The summer also marked the first season for new HTF Managing Director Jen Rogers, who came to Grounds from UNC's PlayMakers Repertory Company. "Jen spearheads all administrative operations for the theatre, and I am incredibly grateful to partner with her. Jen is an extraordinary addition to our talented and tireless administrative staff, including Business Manager James Scales and Assistant Business Manager Judy McPeak. I look forward to continuing to work with the entire Heritage family to create entertaining and meaningful theatre for years to come."