Dramatic sizzle: Summer shows warm local stages

Local stages are continuing to heat up as summer moves along. Live Arts preps for its annual festival; Ash Lawn opera singers rehearse for opening night (July 12); the Four County Players gear up for their yearly Shakespeare production; and Heritage Repertory Theater, the UVA company that just finished its run of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, unveils two new shows this week: Crimes of the Heart and Fully Committed.
Just in time for an after-the-picnic bit of entertainment, HRT begins its rotating repertory with the July 4 opening of Crimes of the Heart. A Pulitzer Prize-winner written by Beth Henley and directed by Marianne Kubik, the play follows one day with the three McGrath sisters.
Lenny’s sisters have forgotten her 30th birthday, Meg is home after a failed attempt at a music career, and Babe just shot her husband in the stomach. Audiences will welcome back HRT veterans Nancy Snow (Carousel, Anything Goes) and Jason Odell Williams (Proof, Comic Potential) in leading roles.
The play has been a hit in theaters across the country since it burst onto the scene in the mid-1980’s and was made into a movie starring Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek, who received an Oscar nomination for her comic portrayal of the youngest McGrath sister, Babe. Henley offers a picture of Southern life and Southern women, in particular, that is both touching and hilarious.
In the Helms Theater on July 8, HRT opens Fully Committed, a one-man comedy directed by UVA acting professor Richard Warner. It’s the story of Sam, a struggling actor who works the reservation line at the trendiest restaurant in New York. Dan Perez (of last season’s production of Art) portrays a complete cast of characters including Sam, the chef, the restaurant manager, and the desperate callers who cajole and coerce, name-drop and name-call, bribe and browbeat him in their quest for the prime reservation at the perfect table.

Both productions continue through July. For schedules and information, visit HRT on-line at virginia.edu/drama. Crimes of the Heart plays at 8pm and Fully Committed plays at 7:30pm. To purchase tickets, which range from $14-24, contact HRT at 924-3376 or stop by the box office at the Culbreth Theater, 109 Culbreth Road. M-F 10am-6pm.