Shakespeare, 'Oklahoma!' Headline Drama Department's Six-Show Season

August 29, 2008

August 29, 2008 — The University of Virginia Department of Drama today announced its 2008-09 season, which features six shows that provide fascinating windows into relationships ranging from romantic to family to sociological and beyond.

On tap this season:

•    Beloved classics "Oklahoma!" and Shakespeare's early comedy "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"
•    The racially-charged satire of Douglas Turner Ward's 1965 play, "Day of Absence"
•    "Some Girl(s)," Neil LaBute's biting look at the male side of the battle of the sexes
•    The surreal dreamscape "The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer" by Carson Kreitzer
•    "Fuddy Meers," David Lindsay-Abaire's tale of a farcical day in the life of a family like no other you have ever met before.

Tom Bloom, associate professor and drama department chairman, said the department wasn't intentionally looking for a thematic thread.

"This year happened to yield a collection of shows that are tied together by a focus on the ways in which various forces cause us to treat each other from a variety of perspectives and in a variety of situations," he said.

The season, he said, reflects the classic theater masks concept, where you can never see one face without the other. "We see the faces worn in relationships of men and women, of black and white, of friends and romantic rivals, of good and evil in all their endless shadings and of fantasy and reality," he said.
Season subscriptions will go on sale Sept. 2 at $73 for the general public, $63 for seniors and U.Va. faculty and staff and $50 for students. Order by calling the Drama Box Office at 434-924-3376 or by visiting the Culbreth Theatre on weekdays between 1 and 5 p.m.

Full-time U.Va. students can use their Arts$ Dollars to purchase season tickets. Call or visit the Drama Box Office and give your student ID number to charge your Arts$ Dollars Account.

The Arts$ Dollars program gives full-time U.Va. undergraduate and graduate students $60 of Arts$ Dollars to use toward select music and drama productions, plus $15 of Arts$ Dollars for the Virginia Film Festival and a free U.Va. Art Museum Membership. Arts$ Dollars also support the Department of Art's exhibitions and programs by students and visiting artists. For information, visit
The season begins with "Some Girl(s)," LaBute's razor's-edge look at the war between the sexes, directed by 2005 U.Va. drama alumna Melissa Crespo. On the brink of finally settling down into married life, a Lothario embarks on a cross-country journey to revisit some of the star players in his colorful romantic past, including a former college professor, the fun no-frills fling, the high school sweetheart and the "one that got away." As drawn by LaBute, who has earned a reputation as one of the harshest chroniclers of the male heart through works like "In the Company of Men," this is an unsparing, darkly fascinating look at love from a rarely seen perspective.

"Some Girl(s)" will be presented at the Helms Theatre Sept. 25-27, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1-4. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 8 and are $14 for the general public, $12 for seniors and U.Va. faculty and staff and $8 for students.

Ward's "Day of Absence" is a broad, satirical look at the racial divide that remains as relevant today as when it was written in 1965. A small town awakens to find that all the black people have disappeared overnight. Suddenly, mothers are helpless to take care of their children, businesses and households alike are falling apart, the local government crumbles and faces a full-scale revolt. The ultimate study in contrast, the play further highlights the theme by reversing a minstrel device, deploying black performers in whiteface.

"Day of Absence," directed by Theresa M. Davis, will run from Oct. 23-25 and 28-31 and Nov. 1 at the Helms Theatre. Single tickets go on sale Oct. 6 and are $14 for the general public, $12 for seniors and U.Va. faculty and staff and $8 for students.

"Oklahoma!" — no single word means as much in the history of musical theater. This beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein show, packed with some of the most popular songs in Broadway history ("Oh What a Beautiful Morning," "People Will Say We're in Love" and the rousing title tune) and a timeless love story, never fails to connect with audiences even after 65 years.

"Oklahoma!," directed by Robert Chapel, will be presented at the Culbreth Theatre from Nov. 20-22 and Dec. 3-5 (with a special matinee performance on Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.). Single tickets will go on sale Oct. 6 and are $16 for the general public, $14 for seniors and U.Va. faculty and staff and $10 for students.

"The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer" is a rabbit's hole-type journey into the complex mind of the man who invented the atomic bomb. Audiences travel across a surreal dreamscape to the literal desert of Los Alamos, N.M., and the personal deserts of Oppenheimer's fractured romantic and professional lives. The journey is led by the mythical figure of Lilith, who was cast out of Eden for challenging authority in a way Oppenheimer never did.

"The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer," directed by Betsy Tucker, will be presented at the Culbreth Theatre from Feb. 12-14 and 18-21. Individual tickets go on sale beginning Jan. 26 and are $14, with senior and U.Va. faculty and staff tickets at $12 and student tickets at $8.

Lindsay-Abaire's "Fuddy Meers" is a funhouse-mirror look at a family that makes all others seem entirely functional. Start with a woman whose memory is erased when she goes to sleep, add a limping and lisping "brother" who kidnaps her with the help of an accomplice who speaks through a sock puppet; a husband whose intentions and past are equally murky, and a mother who speaks in a form of gibberish only she can understand. The one thing for certain is that nothing is for certain.

"Fuddy Meers," directed by Richard Warner, will be presented in the Helms Theatre from March 19-21 and March 24-28. Individual tickets go on sale beginning Jan. 26 and are $14 for the general public, $12 for U.Va. faculty and staff and $8 for students.

"The Two Gentlemen of Verona," one of the Bard's earliest comedies, explores the complexities and absurdities of human nature and relationships as only he can. With their hearts set on the same woman, Valentine and Proteus prove themselves to be gentlemen in name only. They embark on a series of romantic misadventures that test their own ties that bind against those of love, money and power – complete with the madcap comic mastery that would launch thousands of imitators, and flatterers.

"The Two Gentlemen of Verona," directed by Colleen Kelly, will be presented in the Culbreth Theatre from April 16-18 and April 22-25. Single tickets go on sale Feb. 23 and are $14 for the general public, $12 for seniors and U.Va. faculty and staff and $8 for students.

All performances will begin at 8 p.m., and parking is free at the new Culbreth Road parking garage.

For information on the U.Va. Department of Drama season, visit

— By Jane Ford