Heritage Theatre Festival to Present Chappati

Opening July 6 in the Helms Theatre

Lovely and Poignant Play From Irish Playwright Christian O’Reilly Explores The Value of Human Connection Through Story of Late-In-Life Pair Who Bond Over Their Respective Pets Play Stars Real Life Husband and Wife And Longtime UVA Drama Professors Jude and Richard Warner


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – June 27, 2017 – Irish Playwright Christian O’Reilly explores and celebrates the true value of human connection in his acclaimed two-person play Chapatti, Heritage Theatre Festival’s latest 2017 offering, opening on July 6 at the Helm Theatre.

Chapatti, directed by Doreen Bechtol, stars longtime UVA Drama professors and real life husband and wife of 45 years Jude Reagan Warner and Richard Warner as a pair of sixty something animal-loving lonely hearts from Dublin. When Dan and his dog Chapatti cross paths with Betty and her nineteen cats, they feel a spark they never expected and they’re reminded of the sweet comfort of human companionship. It’s a deeply emotional, warm, gentle, and multilayered story that captures the very best of the Irish storytelling tradition in all its trademark charm and dark humor.

Chapatti will be presented in the Helms Theatre from July 6 through July 13. Tickets for adults are $25 if purchased before June 30 and $30 if purchased after that date. Student/Child tickets are available for $15 regardless of when purchased. Single and Single and season tickets for the 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival season are available at the UVA Arts Box Office (located in the lobby of the Drama Building), online at www.heritagetheatrefestival.org or by phone at 434-924-3376.

“What attracted me first to this play,” Bechtol said, “was that it features the story of man and a woman over the age of sixty, which is a voice that rarely takes center stage in American theatre. Within our culture, the older generation’s importance within a community fades through time and this play skillfully addresses this issue and, in doing so, restores the vitality to a population that often feels invisible. I love that at the heart of the play is the notion that a simple act of kindness from a stranger can affect a world of change; it can open a heart; it can save a life. I also love that this play shows us the power of empathy, as Leonard Cohen put it, ‘Pay attention to the cracks because that’s where the light gets in.’”

Another selling point, she said, was the chance to work with longtime UVA Drama professors Richard Warner and Jude Reagan Warner, a couple whose 41-year-marriage has included many onstage collaborations, including a 1992 Heritage production of A Moon for the Misbegotten.

“I have had a fabulous time working with Richard and Jude,” Bechtol said, “It is like being in an acting master class in New York City with two seasoned professionals who absolutely know their way around a rehearsal room. They set about their work with such tenacity balanced with a light-hearted good humor, while they craft their character’s stories and build a world from scratch. And their work ethic, I must say, is appallingly good. Richard and Jude are incredibly thoughtful and generous individuals and those qualities translate into their rehearsal practice, which reached remarkable emotional and physical depths from the start. Simply put — they are master storytellers and to be honest some of my favorite moments in rehearsal were during our breaks when Richard and Jude just told stories from the past.”

“It is really wonderful when somebody gives us an opportunity to work together on stage,” Richard Warner said, “and particularly so when it is what is known in theater as a ‘two-hander,” where it is just the two of us. What is so great is we can invest a lot in the history of our relationship to find different parts of our characters. We’ve all had the experience when we know somebody very well and yet they do something we have never seen them do. That is what this is like. We will be on stage and she will create a moment that has so much of her in it but is so distinctly different at the same time. That is really cool.”

Jude Reagan Warner has been struck by the way the play forces us to look at people in a different way than we might otherwise do. “I love that it is a lived experience of really encountering and learning about these to people,” she said. “If you pass them on the street, they look every day garden variety normal, and in a way they are. But each of them has get love and great losses. They have each had a life that has forced them to learn and grow and make decisions and mature. I think we all make snap judgments about people that are so often erroneous. We can look at a play like this and think we know the story, but here you have two people who are confronting the real choices of living, and asking themselves what they are going to do with this mature part of their lives. Have all their decisions been made? What is left for them?”

Warner added that the play has much in common with some beloved Irish films. “I think this play is almost a second cousin to Waking Ned Devine,” he said. “There are these people who have such hard and long and hardworking lives and they have still found a sense of how they can survive with dignity These characters have a great deal of dignity and are wily enough to figure out how they can service in this absurd world of ours.” The 2017 Heritage Theatre Festival will continue with Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery, a madcap whodunit in which five actors play 40 characters (July 22-29 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre) and Stephen Sondheim’s classic musical Company, featuring all-time classic Broadway hits like “Being Alive (July 28-August 4 in the Culbreth Theatre). Putting an exclamation point on the season’s proceedings this summer will be International Clown Hall of Fame member Barry Lubin, the face of the Big Apple Circus, who will bring his iconic and irrepressible character “Grandma” for performances at the Ruth Caplin Theatre on August 4 and 5.

Parking for Heritage Theatre Festival performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters.

To access photos of this production, contact John Kelly at john@johnkellypr.com or 434-987-6513. # # #