Announcing our 50th Anniversary Season



Season to Open on June 27 and Run Through August 4

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – Tuesday, February 6, 2024 – The Virginia Theatre Festival is getting ready to celebrate its 50th Anniversary year in a big way this summer.

The Virginia Theatre Festival is a program of the University of Virginia, with support from the Office of the Provost, Vice Provost for the Arts, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Department of Drama.

Originally founded in 1974 as Heritage Repertory Company, VTF will kick off its season with a delightful look back at its history with 50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue. Longtime Artistic Director Robert Chapel will return to direct the show, which will feature a curated selection of some of the greatest songs from the company’s half-century of shows and will be performed by a collection of audience-favorite performers, including Broadway veterans!

“It’s thrilling to celebrate this important milestone, marking 50 years of bringing live professional theatre to Charlottesville,” said VTF Artistic Director Jenny Wales. “From its beginnings as Heritage Repertory Company all the way through its evolution to the Virginia Theatre Festival, our company has been an incubator and developer of talent. We are delighted to welcome back Bob Chapel, who has played such a pivotal role in our theatre’s history in his 29 years here.” Chapel’s return, Wales said, is particularly appropriate given his role in bringing musicals to the community. “It was under Bob’s leadership that Heritage started producing musicals, so for him to come back and put together an evening that celebrates musical theater and what it has meant to our community feels particularly significant.”

50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue, directed by Robert Chapel, will run from June 27-30 in the Culbreth Theatre.

The season will continue with great news for musical theater lovers. Suddenly, Seymour…is back! And he is headed for the Culbreth Theatre stage. Little Shop of Horrors has been delighting and disarming audiences with its story of lovestruck Seymour, a hapless flower shop employee, and his massive miscalculation that he can use a bloodthirsty succulent to win his beloved Audrey’s heart. Throw in a sadistic dentist, a hard-to-please boss, and a chorus of all-knowing skid row onlookers, and you’ll see why audiences across the globe have been moving and grooving (and maybe screaming just a little) to Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s 1960s R&B/doo-wop infused sci-fi mashup musical for more than four decades.

“There is a reason that this musical has been produced as much as it has all around the world,” Wales said. “It is funny and campy, with a story that is so compelling that even after all these years it is still surprising. The show will be directed by Jeffrey Meanza, who gave us such a lovely production of Dear Jack, Dear Louise last summer. I am so excited to see his take on Little Shop.”

Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Jeffrey Meanza, will run from July 11-21 in the Culbreth Theatre.

The 2024 VTF season will wrap up with a wild ride that turns a classic Hitchcock mystery upside down in the most hilarious and hair-raising ways. A two-time Tony Award-winning whodunit adapted by Patrick Barlow, The 39 Steps is a frenetic farce that features four actors playing more than 150 characters in what becomes a feat of herculean hilarity and hair-pin turns. A chance encounter with an ill-fated beautiful spy sends Detective Richard Hannay into the bullseye of a dangerous international crime ring and sends theatre lovers on a bullet train-fast comic thrill ride full of plot twists, romance, quick-changes, and laughs delivered at a delightfully dizzying pace.

“What I love about The 39 Steps is the mashup of farce and mystery. You get to watch actors at the very top of their games whip us around from character to character and location to location and storyline to storyline,” Wales said.” It’s like Hitchcock on steroids with heavy doses of physical comedy, incredibly sharp writing, and all the things that we love about a classic farce. It’s the perfect combination of film noir and live theater.” The play will be directed by Nicolas Minas, who has worked at various theatres in New York, Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk, and Cape Fear Regional Theatre in Fayetteville, North Carolina, among others.

The 39 Steps, directed by Nicolas Minas, will run from July 25 – August 4 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre.

VTF donors provide essential support to the organization, while enjoying exclusive benefits like gaining access to purchase tickets in advance of public sales, invitations to special events, behind-the-scenes access, and more. For more information on ways to support the upcoming season, visit

Tickets for the 2024 season will go on sale on Thursday, June 6. To learn more about the Virginia Theatre Festival and its 50th anniversary season, visit

VTF offers seasonal employment opportunities for theatre artists, technicians, and administrators. Local auditions will be held March 16. More information can be found at

Little Shop of Horrors book and lyrics are by Howard Ashman, music is by Alan Menken, and is based on the film by Roger Corman, screenplay by Charles Griffith. The show was originally produced by the WPA Theatre. Little Shop of Horrors (Broadway Version) is presented through special arrangement with and licensed by Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.

The 39 Steps is adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and from the movie by Alfred Hitchcock, and the production is an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon. The 39 Steps is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.