June 11, 2008 – Heritage Theatre Festival is celebrating its return to the local arts scene after a one-year absence with a pair of shows that illustrate the power of theater to entertain, challenge and delight.
Heritage kicks off its 32nd season on June 19 at the Culbreth Theatre with "City of Angels," the six-time Tony Award-winning musical that shows what can happen when a writer's imagination literally comes to life. Meanwhile, on the Helms Theatre stage, the one-person show "I Am My Own Wife" debuts on June 17, featuring British actor Malcolm Tulip performing more than 30 roles as he tells the tale of a real-life character few will ever forget.
According to Heritage's producing artistic director and the show's director, Bob Chapel, kicking off the season with "City of Angels" came down to a single word: fun.
"After doing some more serious musicals like 'South Pacific' and 'Sunday in the Park with George,' we thought it would be really fun to do a show like 'City of Angels,' which is full of wonderful satirical humor and has a great, jazzy Cy Coleman score," he said.
"City of Angels" follows the story of novelist-turned-screenwriter Stine as he struggles to bring his book to the silver screen. Audiences are transported from Stine's real-life tale to the one he has crafted for the screen, a shadowy film noir world complete with dazzling dames and a hard-boiled detective hero. Reflecting its dual worlds, half of the show is done with black-and-white sets and costumes and half is done in Hollywood Technicolor.
According to Chapel, the show will reunite Heritage audiences with some of their favorite performers, while introducing them to some exciting new talent. "We are thrilled to have some of our audience's favorite performers in this show, including Rob Marnell, Nancy Snow and Geno Carr," he said. "And with the parallel story format, these and some of our exciting first-time Heritage performers will be playing dual roles, something that is always fun for our audiences to see."
"City of Angels" will run from June 19 to 21 and from June 24 to 28. All performances are at 8 p.m., with an additional 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday, June 28.
"I Am My Own Wife" tells one of the ultimate survival stories of the 20th century through the life of Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who managed to emerge from under the most repressive regimes of the 20th century without ever compromising who she was.
"At its best, theater transports us to times and places we've never experienced and introduces us to characters we will never forget," Chapel said. "This is one of those opportunities, thanks to a remarkable story and an equally remarkable performance by the gifted actor Malcolm Tulip, who creates an entire world all by himself."
"I Am My Own Wife" will run from June 17, 19 to 21 and from June 23 to 28. All performances are at 7:30 p.m., with an additional 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturday, June 21.
Both shows represent the dawn of a new era at Heritage, from its return after a yearlong hiatus to the launch of its first year under a new name.
"We couldn't be more excited about being back and launching what we are sure is going to a tremendously entertaining season," Chapel said.
The season will also include Terence McNally's "Master Class," running from July 7 to 12 in the Culbreth Theatre; the return of "Forever Plaid," one of the most popular shows in Heritage history, running from July 16 to Aug. 2 in the Helms Theatre; and the lush and dreamy six-time Tony Award winning musical "The Light in the Piazza," running from July 23 to Aug. 2 in the Culbreth Theatre.
Of course, the name is not all that is new this year at Heritage Theatre Festival. The brand-new Culbreth Road Parking Garage is free for all audience members, and its immediate proximity to the theaters makes Heritage the area's most accessible performing arts venues.
Tickets for "City of Angels" are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors and U.Va. faculty/staff, and $15 for students. Tickets for "I Am My Own Wife" are $26 for adults, $22 for seniors and U.Va. faculty/staff and $15 for students.
2008 Heritage Theatre Festival season subscriptions are also available beginning at $130 for adults. Student/child season subscriptions are $75 and senior and U.Va. faculty/staff are $115. Subscriptions and individual tickets are available in person at the Culbreth Box Office and by phone at 434-924-3376.
For additional ticket information or information on the entire 2008 season, visit ww.uvahtf.org.