39th Annual Heritage Theatre Festival Kicks Off With A 'Bang'

By: Ruth Morton Email
By: Ruth Morton Email

June 27, 2013

The 39th annual Heritage Theatre Festival kicked off on Thursday with the classic American production 'Annie Get Your Gun.'

The musical follows the relationship between wild west sharp shooter Annie Oakley and fellow sharp shooter Frank Butler.

"I think the whole play is centered around, 'love is stronger than anything,'' said Jonathan Elliott Coarsey, who plays Frank Butler. "Annie's got a line in there where she says, 'they love eachother and that's all that matters.' For Frank and Annie, that's kind of their storyline, is figuring that out, that, no matter what, love is what matters."

The musical features songs like "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" and "There's No Business Like Show Business."

"It is probably one of the greatest scores ever written," said Robert Chapel, the show's director and artistic director for the Heritage Theatre Festival. "At the time, one hit song after another after another after another."

"People are gonna leave whistling the tunes and really feeling good," said Coarsey.

Actors from across the nation and Charlottesville are working on the production.

"It's really a fantastic opportunity for the people of Charlottesville to get to get to see some great work from...students to Broadway veterans," said Emelie Faith Thompson, who plays Annie Oakley.

"I love Heritage," said Thompson. She acted in three shows in 2011, including as Eliza Doolitte in "My Fair Lady."

"I was only too delighted to come back. I'm originally from Culpeper but I live in New York now, so it's always nice to come to a place that feels like home," she said.

"This feels like home. This is a great place to come," Coarsey echoed.

"'Annie Get Your Gun' is a wonderfully entertaining show," said Chapel. "And it's filled with music and filled with a lot of fun. It's a great evening to come and relax and laugh and enjoy and listen to wonderful music."

"Annie" is the first of five plays that make up this summer's Heritage Festival lineup. It is the first season that the festival is taking place at the University of Virginia's renovated drama building.

"We just are very proud of the whole new building. The lobby is beautiful," Chapel said.

Because of the renovations, the building now has a new theatre, the Ruth Caplin Theatre, for a total of three. The proscenium-style Culbreth Theatre and the black box Helms Theatre remain.

"The new space offers different challenges because it's a three-quarter thrust so people directing, staging plays in there have different challenges than in the proscenium theater," said Chapel.

At some points this summer, three plays will be running at the same time, one in each of the theaters.

To see the summer schedule or buy tickets, visit the UVa Drama Building's box office in person or online by following this link.

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