Casting Announcement for "50 YEARS AND COUNTING: A MUSICAL REVUE"



50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue to Open June 27 in Culbreth Theatre

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – May 8, 2024 – The Virginia Theatre Festival has announced casting for the 50th Anniversary season-opening production 50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue.

Set to run June 27-30 in Culbreth Theatre, 50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue will be directed by the Theatre’s longtime former Artistic Director Robert Chapel. The production features a cast of 10 VTF alumni performing some of musical theater’s most beloved and show-stopping songs from musicals VTF has produced over the last half-century, including Guys and DollsMy Fair Lady, Carousel, Ragtime, Spamalot, and more.

Founded in 1974, VTF is the Commonwealth’s longest-running professional summer theatre company and was formerly known as the Heritage Repertory Company, Heritage Repertory Theatre, and Heritage Theatre Festival before renaming as the Virginia Theatre Festival in 2022.

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, The Caplin Foundation, The Thomas and Carolyn Witt Foundation, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Department of Drama. The 2024 Virginia Theatre Festival is also supported by a generous grant from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation.

50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue is supported by a generous grant from The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation. This show is also presented by ArkWise Wealth: An Ameriprise Private Wealth Advisory PracticeC-VILLE Weekly, and UVA Arts Council.

The cast for 50 Years and Counting: A Musical Revue will include:

  • Geno Carr starred in the original cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Come From Away. His Off-Broadway credits include Bush Wars, and he has appeared in the national tours of Come From Away, Grease!, The Buddy Holly Story, and The Phantom of the Opera. His VTF credits include I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (2002); Damn Yankees (2005); South Pacific (2006); and City of Angels (2008). Carr also directed the Festival’s 2009 production of Little Shop of Horrors.
  • Jack Donahue, UVA alumnus, is an award-winning singer, songwriter, and actor who has performed at many of the country’s leading jazz and cabaret venues including Birdland and the Algonquin Hotel’s famed Oak Room. Donahue made his VTF debut in 1994 with Side by Side by Sondheim, Jacques Brel is Alive, and Living in Paris; and followed up with Man of La Mancha and Lend Me a Tenor (1995), and Guys and Dolls, Blithe Spirit, and The Nerd (1996).
  • Tony Gilbert, UVA alumnus, appeared on Broadway in Oliver! and Sweeney Todd as well as in the National tours of The Buddy Holly Story, Man of La Mancha, and Sayonara. He has also worked extensively at regional theatres around the country. Gilbert played Sweeney Todd in VTF’s 1998 production of Sweeney Todd.
  • Lauren Hooper played Sarah in VTF’s 2004 production of Ragtime. Hooper has worked Off-Broadway and at leading regional theatres in such shows as The Wild Party, Intimate Apparel, Dreamgirls, and Beauty and the Beast. Hooper has also had recurring roles on Manifest (Netflix) and Homeland (Showtime).
  • Lydia Horan is one of the Charlottesville area’s most beloved actors, in part thanks to her VTF roles in Grease (2001); How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2003); Sunday in the Park with George (2006); Sound of Music and Putnam County Spelling Bee (2010); Oliver! (2009); and Company (2017).
  • Rob Marnell has appeared on Broadway in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and Gettin’ The Band Back Together in addition to the national tour of Mamma Mia, and the national tour and Clint Eastwood film adaptation of Jersey Boys. His memorable turns on VTF stages include Damn Yankees and Spitfire Grill (2005); Sunday in the Park with George and South Pacific (2006); City of Angels and The Light in the Piazza (2008); Oliver! and Little Shop of Horrors (2009).
  • Arbender Robinson has appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables; Beautiful: The Carole King Musical; Hairspray; Ragtime; The Book of Mormon; Hair; Shuffle Along; Disney’s The Lion King; and The Little Mermaid. His VTF credits include Ain’t Misbehavin’ (2000); Smokey Joe’s Café (2002); and Ragtime and Five Guys Named Moe (2004).
  • Nancy Snow Carr has been featured in the national tours of Phantom of the Opera and The Buddy Holly Story. Additional credits include Singin’ in the Rain and The Light in the Piazza at California Center for the Arts, and seven seasons of How the Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe. Her VTF credits include West Side Story (1999); You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown (2000); I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (2002); Crimes of the Heart (2003); My Way (2005); South Pacific (2006); and City of Angels (2008).
  • Emily Swallow, UVA alumna, currently stars as The Armorer in the hit Star Wars series The Mandalorian and is also well known from her role as “Amara” in The CW’s SUPERNATURAL and from her role as Kim Fischer in CBS’ The Mentalist. Her extensive stage credits include starring in world premieres of Donald Margulies play The Country House at LA’s Geffen Playhouse; opposite Mark Rylance in Louis Jenkins’ play Nice Fish at the Guthrie Theatre; in John Patrick Shanley’s musical Romantic Poetry at Manhattan Theater Club; and in High Fidelity on Broadway. Swallow’s VTF credits include Sweeney Todd (1998); Carousel (2000); and Gypsy  and Grease (2001).
  • Emelie Faith Thompson has worked Off-Broadway in Night Games, A.A. Milne’s The Ugly Duckling, and regionally at such theatres as Geva Theatre Center, Virginia Rep, and Barter Theatre. VTF credits include My Fair Lady, Boeing Boeing, and The 39 Steps (2011); Annie Get Your Gun (2013); Thoroughly Modern Millie (2014); and Violet (2015).

The full creative team will include Nate Patten (Music Director); Tom Bloom (Scenic Coordinator); Sarah Bryan (Costume Designer); Steven Spera (Lighting Designer); Michael Rasbury (Sound Designer); and Charles K. Bayang (Production Stage Manager).

The 50th Anniversary Virginia Theatre Festival season will also include productions of Little Shop of Horrors (July 11-21 in Culbreth Theatre) and The 39 Steps (July 25-August 4 in Ruth Caplin Theatre). Tickets for the 2024 season will go on sale on Thursday, June 6.

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

To learn more about the Virginia Theatre Festival and its 50th anniversary season, visit