VA Rep Brings George Burns Classic Say Goodnight grace to the Hanover Theater
Virginia Repertory Theatre will be bringing the play Say Goodnight Gracie to the Hanover Theatre on Sept. 20, starring Richmond’s own Scott Wichmann as George Burns in this one-man play about Burns’ life.
The play was nominated for a Tony Award in 2003 and won the 2003-04 National Broadway Theatre Award for best play. Some of Richmond’s best will be trying to do the award-winning show justice when it comes to town later this month.
But it shouldn’t be that hard – Gracie’s, Director Chase Kniffen, has won the Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Award for best director from 2010-2012.
“George Burns is one of the world’s most beloved comedic icons,” Kniffen said in a press release about the play. “He optimizes a very special time in American entertainment and culture. Scott Wichmann is perfect for the role and we are thrilled to be working with him again.”
Scott Wichmann is starring in the play and says he is excited for its debut and for the fun it’ll bring to the audience.
“People say ‘how’s the show going?’ and I say ‘George Burns has already done all the heavy lifting,’” Wichmann said. “He did the hundred years of living. It’s my job to get out of the way and let him tell the story.”
Wichmann says there is a thriving theater community here and the people who are a part of the local scene do it very well, giving any and all projects great support.
“Virginia Repertory Theatre in particular has given me several opportunities over the years to do different things and I love working here,” said Wichmann.
The play presents audiences with several video clips of Burns which they’ll have to compare to Wichmann’s portrayal which he says was one of the more challenging aspects of his performace.
“He left such an indelible mark that there are trademark things about him that people point to, so the challenge really is capturing all of that in a way that is really natural, that’s not an imitation. But it has to be alive, it has to be genuine,” Wichmann said.
Say Goodnight Gracie, written by Rupert Holmes, is compiled of memories of Burns’ childhood , career and marriage to Gracie Allen. Throughout the play the audience is reminded of Burns’ true character, a lively, genuine and beloved man whose presence in show business lasted nearly 100 years.
“I would encourage people to come and see it because he represents a real American story, a real American rag to riches story of a guy who connected with his passion and through that passion he met someone that he loved and that took him to another level,” Wichmann said.
“I feel like we’re all kind of shaded and cynical at this point but it’s good to be reminded that there are stories like that out there.”
Goodnight Gracie will make its debut at Hanover Theatre on Sept. 20 and will run through Nov. 3. You can purchase tickets here.
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