bojangles-smMusic by Charles Strouse
Lyrics by Sammy Cahn

With music by Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye Bye Birdie) and lyrics by Sammy Cahn, Bojangles is the musical biography of tap-dancing legend Bill Robinson.  The play takes an unflinching look at Robinson’s life, from his childhood in Richmond to his films with Shirley Temple.  Orphaned and abandoned as a child, he danced his way from dance contests to success on the biggest vaudeville circuits–and from there to Hollywood.  But success also fueled his gambling habit and his womanizing.  He was fiercely protective of his dance routines, and famous for his temper.  Bojangles shows us not only Bill Robinson’s talent, generosity and accomplishments, but also his humanity.
“[A] remarkable book that not only limns the title character, warts and all, but also renders the racist world that shaped him.”–Variety
“A solid, sensitive script . . . by turns tender and vitriolic, romantic and racist, acerbic and biting.”–Carole Kass

Songs from Bedlam

Music by Kelly Kennedy

bedlamSongs from Bedlam takes its name from Bethlehem Hospital, which in 1547 became London’s main hospital for the mentally ill. Its name was soon shortened to “Bedlam,” which also came to mean the antics of its inmates. For a modest sum, Elizabethans could visit the hospital and watch the “Lunatickes” at Bedlam. Like the exotic animals in the Tower of London, the mentally ill were on display. Bedlam became overcrowded so quickly that the mentally ill were routinely turned back out onto the streets half-cured. There they became homeless beggars. Songs about “Tom of Bedlam” and “Mad Mary” became popular, in which the singer described what had led him or her to such a sorry plight and begged alms from passers-by.  Songs from Bedlam uses this historical framework to explore characters who are, in one way or another, disadvantaged: homeless, schizophrenic, alcoholic, etc.  What they have in common is that they are looking for connection: with a person, a Higher Power, or some kind of salvation.
“[A] triumph. . . . Jones’s script translates into pure electric poetry.”–BackStage
 “[Richly] metaphorical language [and] soaring, searing poetry.”–Richmond Times-Dispatch
 “[A] rare and magnificent balance between brutal reality and sublime fantasy.”–Studio Theatre


At the tender age of eighteen, Mary Shelley wrote a story so compelling that it has never since been out of print.  Surrounded by exciting breakthroughs in electricity, chemistry, magnetism and other scientific fields, she imagined a Creature pieced together from dead bodies–then brought to life, only to be shunned by its creator.  Frankenstein Lives chronicles Mary’s life leading up to the book that made her famous; the literary world that surrounded her; the contest proposed by Lord Byron that inspired her to write Frankenstein; and the startling resonances between her own life and her literary creation.  In this story within a story, one actor portrays the obsessed poet Percy Shelley and the equally obsessed Victor Frankenstein; one actress portrays the young tormented Mary Shelley, and the equally tormented Creature.  The result is a new take on a story you only thought you knew.
“Douglas Jones’s distinctive style [breathes] poetic life into the drama.” —Style Weekly
 “Electrifying.”–Mathis Parker

The Turn of the Screw

Based on the novella by Henry James.tots2forweb

Genuine chills are provided in this tale of a governess, left in charge of a boy and a girl at a lonely estate, who begins to suspect that the ghosts of two former servants have hideous designs upon the children. But the governess is the only one who can see the ghosts—and to complicate matters further, the children may know more than they’re telling. If the governess is right, the children are in terrible peril; but if she’s wrong, she herself might be driving them mad. With every twist in the plot (or turn of the screw) the tension increases until something—or someone—must snap.

“The Granddaddy of all ghost stories.” —WRVA-FM

EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT EXCITING”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Jack and the Beanstalk

Music by Ron Barnettjackforweb

In this adaptation of the story Jack is a little boy confined to the barn during the Depression, waiting for his father to return from the market. His mother asks him to use his imagination to pass the time. He does so by reading the story about himself, and improvising the details of his own life. This adaptation has long been a favorite among educators because of its emphasis on reading, and using your imagination.

“A triumph of imagination. [Jack] spins his own wild version of the familiar yarn, more fun and fanciful than the original.” –Richmond Times Dispatch

“Jack is a celebration of the power of the imagination and the joy of reading.” –Company of Fools

The Nose

Adapted from the short story by Nikolai Gogol.

Major Kovalyov wakes one morning in St. Petersburg to discover that his nose is missing.  Later he discovers his nose running around town–wearing a gold-braided uniform and a plumed hat, and pretending to be a person of some importance.  When he confronts his nose and orders it back onto his face, it tells him that it is a person and his demand is obscene.  Nikolai Gogol, the author, is himself a character in the play, trapped onstage in an overstuffed chair (“I know why I’m up here!  They’re trying to make me the story!”).  In the end, the story of “The Nose” dovetails with Gogol’s obsession with a beautiful woman–and his eventual descent into insanity.  The original production of The Nose earned Jones special mention in PlaySource and an invitation to Actors Theatre of Louisville’s “Classics in Context Festival.”  The playwright confesses he just wanted to see a giant nose running around onstage.
The Bremen Town Band

The Bremen Town Band

Endless Forms Most Wonderful

Endless Forms Most Wonderful: The Life and Work of Charles Darwin

One Bad Camel

One Bad Camel

Genius in The Attic: The Restless Curiosity of Alexander Graham Bell

Genius in The Attic: The Restless Curiosity of Alexander Graham Bell

Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad

Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad

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