The true story of ‘Those Harvey Girls’ brings gospel charm and Virginia history to Swift Creek Mill Theater
“The sisters have a unique perspective on the challenges and triumphs that have made them who they are today,” said artistic director Tom Width as he discussed the prevalence of music in the lives of the subjects of his latest play. “Through it all, they have kept their faith and kept on singing.”
Directed by Tom Width, Those Harvey Girls explores the lives of Cora Harvey Armstrong and her two sisters. According to Width, the show will surely please fans of musical theater as well as those who enjoy uplifting gospel hits.
The crew behind the show features musical director Paul Deiss, lighting specialist Joe Doran, and costume specialist Maura Lynch Cravey.
Width has been in the Richmond area since 1975, and began in the Swift Creek Mill Theater as a resident actor. He eventually worked his way up to the position of Artistic Director, where he has produced and directed shows for the Richmond community for 22 years.
Swift Mill Creek has put on both original and more established, mainstream plays and musicals for its 1000-some subscribers, and Width claims that they strive to put on “something for everyone.”
According to him, Those Harvey Girls is for anyone who loves music, and he expects everyone in the audience to have their toes tapping along to the emotionally captivating music by the show’s end.
Width met Cora Harvey Armstrong, one of the shows three main stars, in the 1990s, and was quickly captivated by her amazing musical skills and troubled past. This led to Width directing a production based on her life, Livin In The Light, in 1999. It covered her rise to prominence as a singer after winning the “Eight Rising Stars” singing contest in 1996 and contrasted it with the problems she faced in her personal life, which included instances of marital abuse.
Armstrong is a big name in local gospel music, and as such, gospel will be the play’s main musical anchor, with occasional dips into more secular hits as the show explores the youth of the three sisters.
Those Harvey Girls will span 50 years in the lives of Cora Harvey Armstrong and her sisters, covering their lifelong relationship with gospel and their commitment to family. There will be six younger actors playing the three black sisters as they were growing up in 1960s rural Virginia and navigating the troublesome social climate of the time.
Despite this, however, Width has made sure that the music will take center stage and “transcend gender, race and religion”.
Tickets can be purchased at the Swift Creek Mill Theater Company website and their box office (804-747-5203).
Rodrigo Arriaza is a cool dude who loves bees and Bolivia.
You find yourself smiling. You smile because the complications are adorable and you are touched.September 16, 2016
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