Heritage Theatre Festival Announces 2016 Schedule

HTF Offers Full Slate of Summer Fun Including Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance;
Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster JenkinsYou’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown;
The Odd Couple; and The Wonder Bread Years  

Auditions to Be Held February 27 and 28

This year, the Heritage Theatre Festival at the University of Virginia is putting an emphasis on summer fun. Hosted by the UVA Department of Drama, the 2016 Heritage season will feature one of the world’s most celebrated operettas; a comic look at a self-proclaimed diva who spends her way to the wrong kind of stardom; an all-time family-favorite musical; a classic American comedy; and a whimsical one-man-show about the unique joys of growing up in 1970’s America, written by and starring one of the writers of Seinfeld.

Now in its 42nd year, HTF will kick off its summer festival on June 30 with the ageless and uproarious Gilbert & Sullivan operetta The Pirates of Penzance; or, The Slave of Duty.  An eccentric and wealthy turn-of-the-century opera star becomes an accidental comedy sensation in the very funny Souvenir:  A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins. Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy and the whole Peanuts gang return to the Heritage stage for the popular musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.  Felix and Oscar, two of the theatre world’s most celebrated “frenemys,” take the stage in The Odd Couple.  Actor and writer Pat Hazell will take audiences on a hilarious and charming time-capsule journey back to simpler times in his acclaimed Baby Boomer-themed one-man show The Wonder Bread Years.

“For more than four decades, the Heritage Theatre Festival at the University of Virginia has been one of Charlottesville’s greatest summer escapes,” said Drama Department Chair Colleen Kelly. “We wanted to create a season that encourages audiences to come back again and again throughout the summer for a range of diverse and highly entertaining professional theater experiences.”

Heritage makes its maiden voyage for the summer with Gilbert & Sullivan’s musical theater masterpiece The Pirates of Penzance. It’s the story of young Frederic, who on the eve of his 21st birthday, looks forward to breaking the bonds of his indentured servitude, only to be foiled by a leap year birthday technicality and an overdeveloped sense of duty that keeps him in their delightfully chaotic employ.  This is a timeless pirate tale for all ages – including swashbuckling hijinks, clueless cops, frolicking maidens, and a famously bumbling Major General.

The Pirates of Penzance, libretto by W.S. Gilbert and Music by Arthur Sullivan, will be presented at the Culbreth Theatre on June 30, July 1-2, and July 7-9 at 7:30pm, and on July 9 at 2pm.

Florence Jenkins was a turn-of-the-century musical sensation with considerable means and boundless ambition. The combination made her a must-see for audiences of the time, many of whom would come equipped with handkerchiefs to stifle their laughter. Souvenir:  A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins is a funny and heartfelt tale of a wealthy would-be diva who is not about to let her lack of musical ability get in the way of her dream of operatic glory. Blissfully ignorant of the fact that she has become a comedy sensation, Jenkins plays for sold out houses alongside her wry and long-suffering accompanist who must endure errant arias night after painstaking night.

The show will mark a return to the Heritage Theatre Festival for multi-award-winning Director-Choreographer Cate Caplin. Ms. Caplin’s work has been seen at the White House, the Kennedy Center, the Metropolitan Opera House, and other international venues ranging from the Paris Opera House to the Broadway stage. She will for the first time be directing in the theatre named for her mother, Ruth Caplin.

“Directing in my mother’s theatre and celebrating my father’s 100th Birthday all within the same summer theatre season is a very special gift,” Caplin said. “I love working at Heritage and coming back to my birthplace surrounded by family, and directing a show that I have wanted to do for such a very long time, wraps all my dreams into one beautiful package. I am hugely grateful to Colleen Kelly and the entire HTF team for inviting me back.”

Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, by Stephen Temperley, will be presented at the Ruth Caplin Theatre on July 7-9 and July 12-15 at 8pm, and July 16 at 2pm, pending acquisition of rights.

Happiness is…a fabulous musical for the whole family! You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown has delighted generations with its journey into the lives of Charles M. Schultz’s iconic Peanuts gang. Join our favorite hapless hero and his famed pals, including the world’s coolest beagle, the world’s most unlikely advice maven, and a thumb-sucking blanket-carrying wisdom dispenser as they invite the inner child in all of us out to play!

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, based on the comic strip PEANUTS by Charles M. Schulz and book, music, and lyrics by Clark Gesner, will be presented at the Ruth Caplin Theatre on  July 23 and July 25-30 at 7pm, and July 23 and 30 at 2pm, pending acquisition of rights.

Neil Simon’s comedy classic The Odd Couple takes us into the world of slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison and fiercely fastidious Felix Unger, a pair of divorced New York roommates. The two pester, annoy, and exasperate their way to hilarity and an unlikely friendship. This beloved comedy was first seen on Broadway in 1965, then in the Oscar-nominated 1968 film with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and then shared with millions through the hit TV sitcom starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. In what promises to be a special treat for Heritage audiences, the show will star our very own “odd couple” – J.P. Scheidler and Evan Bridenstine – who delighted HTF audiences with their madcap antics playing the entire fictional town of Tuna, Texas in the Tuna trilogy!

The Odd Couple, by Neil Simon, will be presented at the Culbreth Theatre from July 28- 30 and August 3-6 at 7:30pm, and on July 30 at 2:30pm, pending acquisition of rights.

As a former writer for Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, and Co., Pat Hazell knows how to make something funny out of nothing. In his acclaimed The Wonder Bread Years, Hazell is the highly-entertaining chaperone on a “field trip back in time.” This nationally touring one-man show is a warm and funny salute to Americana and a nostalgic and comedic love letter to Baby Boomers everywhere that comes complete with tales of Country Squire station wagons, lawn darts, Big Wheels, Eskimo Pies, and a sense of wonder that is much needed in today’s world. Seinfeld himself calls the show “milk-snortingly funny.”

The Wonder Bread Years, starring Pat Hazell, will be presented at the Ruth Caplin Theatre from August 2-6 at 8pm, and on August 6 at 2pm.

Auditions will be held for the 2016 Heritage Theatre Festival season on February 27 and 28. More information can be found here: heritagetheatrefestival.org.

Heritage’s 2015 season subscribers will receive information on how to renew their subscriptions for the 2016 season in early April.  New subscription sales will begin April 25, and single tickets will go on sale June 13. For more information on the upcoming summer season and how you can support Heritage’s efforts, visit heritagetheatrefestival.org.