OpEd: A response to “Freddy’s 2016-2017 Richmond Theatre Season” wrap up
First of all, let me just state for the record that I am a professional actress/director in Richmond, VA and have been so for over 35 years. I have worked with every theatre company that is listed in his article (or at least worked with those that run them) and I found it in very poor taste that the GAYRVA website allowed Mr. Kaufman to omit some of the wonderful companies that make our city great.
To name a few: Richmond Triangle Players (OMG…isn’t this the theatre company that GAYRVA should be touting the most?); 5th Wall Theatre; HATTheatre, Inc.; Swift Creek Mill Playhouse; Chamberlayne Actor’s Theatre also referred to as CAT; the new Whistle Stop Theatre in Ashland; and Heritage Repertory Theatre in Charlottesville.
It is fine that Mr. Kaufman listed a few shows that “piqued” his interest for the year, but to start his article by saying “ALL theatres have announced their 2016-2017 seasons” was misleading. It seemed as if he was going to at least name one show per theatre company. He did not and therefore his omissions are, I found, outright inexcusable and in poor taste.
There are too many inaccuracies embedded in his article to name them all; HOWEVER, a few “facts” were so glaring that they must be addressed.
1776 is NOT the first musical that the talented “Deb Clinton will direct” – ummmm, how about let’s start with the recent musical hit this past season…CROAKER?
I am not totally sure, but it seems to me that Quill Theatre “gave up the golden name Richmond Shakespeare” because it is now a merger of 2 theatre companies and not only 1 that produces only Shakespeare. Before it was Quill Theatre, there was Henley Street Theatre that brought Richmond such wonderful productions like THE LIAR and THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE starring the amazing Eva DeVirgilis. Henley Street Theatre merged with Richmond Shakespeare thus out went the former name(s) and what replaced it was the creative and apropos company name – Quill Theatre.
Further in the article, he goes on to state that Cadence Theatre will remount a production of the musical VIOLET. A re-mount? I thought the term remount was utilized when a theatre company brings back a production they have produced in the past. To my knowledge (and I went back and checked the Cadence Theatre website) they have never done a production of VIOLET. In 1999, however, Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn did a beautiful production starring the wonderful Debra Wagoner and was directed by the very talented Jack Cummings. Not even close, Mr. Kaufman.
And that brings us to his final paragraph with the subtopic “Actor Fatigue – a comment”. (I for one couldn’t wait to read this one.) Mr. Kaufman says that “we” (I guess he meansRichmond?) “…love musicals, but we value good singing over good acting.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Did he not see VA Rep’s last production of DREAMGIRLS where Richmond’s own Desiree Roots gave a performance that could easily match Jennifer Hudson or Jennifer Holliday? Did he not see THE COLOR PURPLE where Felicia Curry put her very soul on stage every night bringing audiences to tears moment by moment? What happened to Emily Skinner as Mame, Robyn O’Neill as Mama Rose, or Scott Wichmann in THE PRODUCERS? The list could go on and on and on naming yes, singers – but singers that could level their acting abilities alongside any Broadway actor performing on any stage in NYC tonight! Yes, “we” (Richmond) love musicals, but we also love and respect the actors that bring those songs to life.
AND… it is a total fallacy when he writes, “There is no advance professional acting training in the area.” OMG! I have not only attended some of these workshops, but I have personally taught the occasional class during the course of my career; and I know, for a fact, that HATTheatre Inc., Cadence Theatre, Quill Theatre, and Virginia Repertory (to name a few) offer classes/workshops all the time through out the year as a part of their subscription series.
In closing, I would highly recommend in the future that Mr. Kaufman (and GAYRVA) do their research before “going to print.” And on a side note, I found Mr. Kaufman’s grammar and punctuation so atrocious had he turned this article into me for a grade, I wouldn’t be the only one seeing red – so would he!
Dawn A. Westbrook-Boyd
A local Actress & Director (and proud of it!)
We love feedback here at GayRVA, feel free to contact our editor Brad Kutner at any time via email – firstname.lastname@example.org. The letter above was sent to us by local Actress & Director Dawn A. Westbrook-Boyd. We present it to you with only links added for context.
Quill Theatre brings 18th century Paris to life in its adaptation of David Ives’ comedy ‘The Heir Apparent’
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