June 3, 2008 – Sometimes you can change what you are called without changing what you are about. That is exactly what the folks at Heritage have done this spring with the announcement that the organization formerly known as Heritage Repertory Theatre will now be known as "Heritage Theatre Festival."
"Our year away gave us a lot of time to think and talk a lot about who and what we are," said Robert Chapel, Heritage Theatre Festival producing artistic director. "And the one word that kept coming up was 'festival.' In one way, we are a traditional repertory company, as some of the same actors are seen in more than one production. However, we no longer are presenting our shows in 'rotating repertory.' We are about sharing a cross-section of great plays and musicals every year over a concentrated period of time – in other words, a 'festival' of shows. We feel this should be better reflected in our name as we move forward."
The new season kicks off with the beloved musical "City of Angels." With its crafty film noir-inflected style and story and a jazzy Cy Coleman score, this multiple Tony Award-winning show provides the perfect jumping-off point for this exciting new chapter in the organization's history. The show, directed by Robert Chapel, opens June 19 in the Culbreth Theatre.
"I Am My Own Wife," by Doug Wright, is the powerful story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a German transvestite who survived the most intolerant and brutal regimes in our modern history with her head held high and dignity intact. The show, winner of the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize as "Best Play," is performed by talented British actor Malcolm Tulip, who plays more than 30 unforgettable characters. "I Am My Own Wife" opens in the Helms Theatre on June 17.
Terrence McNally's acclaimed "Master Class" takes the Culbreth stage starting July 7. Also awarded the Tony in the "Best Play" category, the play, which focuses on the glorious career and fascinating life of legendary opera diva Maria Callas, features a series of her memories shared as she conducted a class of eager young singers. The audience follows her mind back to her greatest triumphs on the world's biggest stages and back to her remarkable and well-documented love life, including the likes of the world's richest man at the time, Aristotle Onassis.
One of the theater world's most beloved quartets is back by popular demand starting July 16 at the Helms Theatre with "Forever Plaid." One of the most popular shows in Heritage history, the show treats audiences to heavenly harmonies and a jukebox-worth of '50s and '60' classics as the ill-fated Plaids get the chance to give one final show before ascending to the big stage in the sky.
Wrapping up the season, starting July 23 at Culbreth, will be "The Light in the Piazza," a lush and dreamy six-time Tony Award-winning musical set in the Tuscan countryside. With a book by Craig Lucas and gorgeous score by Adam Guettel (hailed by the New York Times as the most romantic of any musical since "West Side Story"), this is the tale of how a chance encounter in a faraway land can set hearts soaring and change lives forever.
Season subscriptions and tickets for the 2008 Heritage Theatre Festival season went on sale June 2 and will be available at the Culbreth Box Office Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets may also be ordered by calling 434-924-3376.
Beginning this summer, Heritage becomes the most easily-accessible theater in town thanks to the opening of the new Culbreth Road Parking Garage, located mere steps from our front doors with free parking for all Heritage patrons.