The Goodson Boys

GVT proudly presents local trio The Goodson Boys on Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m.

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Mike, Willie and Randy Goodson as The Goodson Boys. (Photo Courtesy / The Goodson Boys)

The Goodson Boys are made up of brothers Mike, Randy and Willie Goodson, a family that has deep roots in Greenbrier County. They began their musical careers as children and have been performing in and around Greenbrier County ever since.

“Their 25 plus years performing together show how important music is to their family and what family means to their music,” said Goodson Boys manager Renee Goodson

Although the boys first learned to play gospel and country so many years ago, as time passed they branched out. Their concerts now feature a mix of country, gospel, southern rock and oldies.

Their mix of musical genres, along with their exceptional musical skills, has entertained audiences in many different venues from fairs and festivals to bars.

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Mike, Willie and Randy Goodson as the The Goodson Boys. (Photo Courtesy / The Goodson Boys)

“You won’t want to miss the sound of Randy’s telecaster bending around the melodic foundation of Mike’s bass, while Willie leads the delivery of the smooth, soulful vocals that have become the hallmark of this band,” said their manager.

This local band will be performing Saturday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $16 for general admission, $13 for seniors and $11 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838. This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture & History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

Be Our Guest!

GVT is proud to present the Youth Education Program’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. Music by Alan Menkin, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book by Linda Woolverton, originally directed by Jess Roth, originally produced by Disney Theatrical Productions. Rehearsals for this fairy tale production featuring the work of over 40 local students began in late January.

In this classic Disney tale, a cruel young prince is cursed to live as a beast until he can learn to love and be loved in return. With the help of Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, Chip and Cogsworth, he might find redemption in the lovely Belle. This family-friendly favorite features the popular songs “Be Our Guest,” “Something There” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Many of the students in this production have been learning and performing in the GVT Education Program since they were children. Seniors Jordan Reed and Sydnee Miller are veterans of the program and are preparing for their final youth musical on our stage.

“To see them perform in Beauty and the Beast Jr. as seniors is remarkable. They’ve turned into talented actors and thoughtful young adults,” Education Director Courtney Susman said about working with Reed and Miller. “To be a part of that growing up process here at GVT is something I cherish daily.”

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Sophie Bowes, Lillie King, Jordan Reed, Kylea Phillips, and Lauren Rodgers rehearsing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. (Photo Courtesy / Greenbrier Valley Theatre)

Reed’s eight years, with roles in Les Misérables: School Edition and Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr., have improved his vocabulary and taught him many skills, such as adaptability. A Beauty and the Beast fan since childhood, his role gives him the chance to put those skills to work on a story that he grew up appreciating. He’s having a great time portraying one of the most fun and upbeat characters in this production.

 

“I enjoyed Beauty and the Beast because of the story as a whole and the amazing musical numbers! What I enjoy most about Lumiere is how warm, bubbly and full of ‘Light’ he is,” the young actor said.

While Reed plans on using what he has learned here at GVT on new adventures in his future, Miller intends to continue with theatre. Miller began in GVTots, and Beauty and the Beast will be her fourth spring musical. She admits that it will be strange to move her studies to West Virginia University.

“When my last show is over, it will feel like a big chunk of my life is missing. I’ve been here longer than I haven’t. I’m so happy to have such amazing people in my life,” Miller said.

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Sydnee Miller and Ryan Vaughan rehearsing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. (Photo Courtesy / Greenbrier Valley Theatre)

Veteran students with so many years of experience can be intimidating to newcomers, but GVT’s welcoming environment made new arrival Kaley Vestal feel right at home. Vestal is from Greenbrier West High School (GWHS) and has been in GVT’s satellite after-school program for four years at GWHS. This will be her first musical at GVT.

Working alongside her peers, in both the after-school program and rehearsing for this musical, Vestal has found her time in theatre to be the best of her high school career. She has learned that almost any obstacle can be overcome if you’re willing to take a chance.

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Grace Johnson, Kaley Vestal, and Isaiah Workman rehearsing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. (Photo Courtesy / Greenbrier Valley Theatre)

“My advice to anyone interested is to always say ‘yes’. Saying no will only close doors and stop you from growing and blossoming as an actor/actress, stage manager, tech crew or costumer,” Vestal said.

 

These students may be taking their experiences with GVT in different directions, but their study and dedication have given them skills and talents that can help them accomplish their future goals no matter where they go.

GVT’s production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. also includes: Stella Baldwin, Sophie Bowes, Addy Carr, Ella Carr, Charleigh Carter, Thomas Cornett, Christina Cullen, Sophia Gum, Maggie Hunter, Grace Johnson, Sarah Jones, Lillie King, Shaylen Lafferty, Kaelin Maro, Jacob Masters, Sarah Miller, Emarya Montgomery, Kymberlyn Morgan, Stella Neeley, Kylea Phillips, Lauren Rodgers, Khalil Samuels, Will Sarver, Sam Snyder, Sarah Stacy, Cora Taylor, Jameson Vance, Emma Vass, Ryan Vaughan, Olivia Voltaggio, Zenya Walters, B’Launa Westmoreland, Jed White, Isaiah Workman and Blaine Yates.

This fairy tale favorite runs March 16 – 25 at 7:00 p.m. with a Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance on Wednesday, March 15 at 7:00 p.m. and a matinee performance on Sunday, March 26 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $13 for seniors and $11 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call our Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org. This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture & History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

 

Meet the Playwrights

GVT reached out to the playwrights to get their perspective for this years New Voices Play Festival. Here’s what they had to say about writing and the thrill of having their work performed live.

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Margie Semilof

The Magic of Niagara – Much of my family is from Buffalo, so I’ve visited Niagara Falls many times. I’ve always been fascinated by stories about daredevils challenged by the falls and the rapids below. I’m equally fascinated by individuals who dedicated their lives to rescuing those that got a little too close – usually by accident. This is my tribute to them.

Q- Which do you enjoy more, writing or seeing your plays on stage?

A- I was a journalist for many years and I love the writing process. But the thrill of watching you play as actors bring your story to life on stage is second to none.

Q- What was your first play?

A- My first play was called Small Town Justice and it premiered at the 43rd annual Playwright Platform Theater Festival in Boston.

Q- What made you want to be a playwright?

A- I fell into it. I wanted to tell a story about an event I experienced in Cuba years ago. That play never materialized but out of that exercise so many others did and I realized how much I loved writing dialogue.

Margie Semilof is Boston playwright who has had plays produced at the Playwrights Platform Theater Festival in Boston, at the Havey Players Summer Shorts in Waltham, MA, and at the Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport, MA.

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W.L. Newkirk

The Nude – With the opening of Lisa’s first show at a professional art gallery, Lisa and Claire contemplate what to do with Lisa’s painting of a nude Claire because Claire is freaking out. But patrons intervene: Brian, an attorney and former painter who no longer paints because he fears criticism, and Jeffrey, a jaded critic, who dismisses the painting, the show and the general trend of “aging housewives trying to be artists.” THE NUDE is a play about the challenges creative people face as they age and the timelessness of beauty.

Q- How did you come up with the plot for this production? Does it have any sentimental meaning for you?

A- As you get older, it is difficult to maintain your courage to keep creating new works, particularly in light of criticism. It’s easier to just give up. It’s hard to be taken seriously. This is, I think, even harder for older women artists. Also, I looked at my wife as she was coming out of the shower and thought just how beautiful she was. This play merges those two themes.

Q- Did you study creative writing or theatre?

A- I don’t have degrees in either. I took theatre courses as an undergraduate and playwrighting as an adult. I now teach playwrighting. My high school creative writing teacher were actually quite good. College was hit or miss. I come from a family of writers. So, writing is what we do. Like breathing.

Q- What is more challenging, full length plays or short plays?

A- Full length. A new full-length play takes me about two years. I write ten minute plays as writing exercises. Like études in music.

W.L. Newkirk has degrees from The Ohio State University and Harvard, and is a member of the Dramatists Guild. His plays have won Vigoda Award for best dramedy,  Best Play at the 4×6 Fest in Florida and Grand Prize, Emerald Theatre Company New Play Festival, in 2016.

Jonathan Joy

Down on Sandusky Road – The story of a man and his son, who must confront their past and the struggles they have endured.

Q- This play has a very personal and sentimental feel to it, what was your inspiration?

A- It’s actually loosely based on some neighbors I have observed, how their addictions control them, how others (and even myself) judge when they  (we) should try to empathized, and how easily we could all succumb to the troubles the characters face. But it is about family (not my family, in this case … thankfully), which I think adds another layer of complexity to the whole thing … especially the idea of writing about family.

Q- Is your technique for writing a short play different from writing a full length production? If so, how?

A- Not really. I just find that some stories take longer to tell than others. I’ve written over thirty plays. Some are one to ten minutes, others are 30 minutes, and several are full lengths. I don’t often start out with a length in mind. I let the story and characters take me where they need to go. Sometimes it’s a short trip, while other times it goes on and on.

Q- How long have you been a playwright, and what is most fulfilling about it?

A- I’ve been writing plays for almost twenty years. I love the challenge of building a story through dialogue, with the immediacy of the live audience always raising the stakes. It’s part of what attracted me to theatre as an actor when I started taking acting classes as a teen, and what keeps me hooked. All these years and I still get an incredible rush hearing something I have written performed by actors and listening to an audience respond to my words and their actions.

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Dwayne Yancey

The Picture Window – An old woman’s front window is shattered by a baseball. For her it’s time to go get the instructions her late husband left her. There’s something special waiting for the kid who could hit a baseball that far. A poignant story about old age and regrets – and baseball.
 Q- How did you hear about the New Voices Play Festival and what made you want to be a part of it?
A- I had the honor of having a script produced in the festival seven years ago (The Unopened Valentine, in 2010) and have submitted almost every year since then trying to get back in! While I’m thrilled to be produced anywhere (and I’ve been produced on every continent except South America and Antarctica), it’s always a special delight to be produced somewhere where I can actually see the show. Most of the time, I never get to see my own shows because they’re being done way far away from here. (Last year, that included Ireland and New Zealand). However, I’m  reasonably local — from Fincastle, Virginia, about 90 minutes away — so here’s a rare chance for me to see my own work produced, so that makes this very special for me. Also, because I am reasonably close, I’ve been to see other shows at Greenbrier Valley Theatre. I remain especially enthralled by the production of Dracula in 2013.

Q- Do you know while writing which direction you want your plays to go in?

A- Yes. I try not to start a play until I know how it’s going to end. On the few occasions where I’ve violated that rule, I’ve generally had to back up and start over. However, even once I know where it’s going to end, there’s still a process of discovery in the writing process. I liken it to sculpting. I know what I’m trying to sculpt, but sometimes the stone has certain properties and directs the chisel a certain way.

Q- Are you working on anything exciting right now?

I hope so! I’m always writing something. Mostly I write full-length scripts, and then write shorter pieces when I’m in between bigger ones. I just finished a full-length Christmas play that I’m very excited about — and, hint, hint, would love to see Greenbrier produce! It’s called EXCHANGE OF GIFTS. Three foreign students who are studying in the U.S. find themselves snowbound in an airport, unable to get home for Christmas. One is from Canada, one from Australia, one from Russia. Over the course of the show, they help each other discover that they’re each studying the wrong thing — that their passion really lies elsewhere. That is the metaphorical “exchange of gifts.” I’d describe it as “sweet.” I also just had a staged reading in Roanoke for a new comedy, THE CACTUS RUSTLERS. Most of my comedies fit in the Southern comedy genre, where I’m trying to compete with the Jones Hope Wooten plays or the Greater Tuna series. I’m now making revisions to that script before I start sending it out. In terms of what I’m actually writing now, I’m writing something very unusual for me — a very dark play about patriotism. Most of what I write is not dark.
Dwayne Yancey is a playwright from Virginia. His play Unopened Valentine was produced at GVT in 2010 and he can be found online at @dwayneyancey.
SURVIVAL STRATEGY – Officemates Jerry and Jenny make a deal to get from each other at work what they can’t get at home.
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Donna Hoke

Q- In your opinion, what are the elements of a good 10-minute play?

A- It has a beginning, middle, and end, and is a story, not just a sketch, or one-trick pony. Even in ten minutes, characters can change.

Q- Did you study theatre and/or writing when you were younger?

A- I took a few creative writing classes in college, but my background is in journalism, and my bread-and-butter job is still magazine editor.

Q- Have you ever acted in or directed any of your plays?

A- I don’t act, and have only directed when I absolutely had to — two ten-minute plays that were set in cars. I don’t really enjoy it.

Donna Hoke is an award-winning playwright whose work has been seen in 40 states and on five continents. She is the author of both full-length and short plays and is the only female to be named Buffalo’s Best Writer for three years.

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Rob Burke

a.d.a.m. – After discovering that a malicious virus has infected the world’s first lifelike android, a scientist must not only tell him about the virus, but also terminate him.

Q – Would you say you are a science fiction fan or is this a particularly inspiring subject?

A – Both. I am definitely a sci-fi fan. Though it certainly is a challenge to find a sci-fi subject that fits into a short one act play. The inspiration for my play came from some deep personal experiences in my own life that left me with the question: “What’s it like when you are confronted with your own mortality?”

Q – What made you want to participate in GVT’s Play Festival?

A – I wanted to participate in the Festival because the opportunity to have ones’ work produced is invaluable. Based on my research into this Festival and the theatre behind it, I felt it would be a great chance to see how my work stacked up against other plays. I’m extremely excited and honored that my play was chosen!
Q – What current projects are you most excited about right now?

A – I’m most excited to start the rehearsal process for the upcoming play I’m in. Not only because I love acting, but also because I find that it helps loosen my creative writing muscles and inspires me to put words on the dreaded blank page.

Rob Burke is a former attorney whose plays and screenplays have been into festivals in the U.S.,  Australia, the U.K. and Dubai.

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Dan Borengasser

Barrage from the Garage – For weeks, Marcia Sampson has been encouraging her husband Wendell to clean out the garage. He finally agrees to it. But he’s not excited about the job. Because he knows there’s something out there besides rusty tools, discarded toys and boxes of old shoes and rags. And he’ll have to come to terms with it.

Q – What do you want audiences to take away from this play?

A – I think it’s important for us all to be mindful of what we have in common as opposed to what makes us different.  Also, it might be good if members of the audience cleaned their garages as soon as possible – before something similar occurs.

Q – When did you first know you wanted to be a playwright and are there any specific shows you are most proud of?

A – The answer to this probably requires more self-awareness than I’m capable of.  Personally, my favorite play might be one of my first 10-minute pieces, titled The Gospel According to Bowser, about the pet dog Bowser explaining his worldview and theology.

Q – What is different about writing a short play and a full length play? Would you say one is harder than the other?

A – I definitely think a full-length play is more difficult.  It demands more  in-depth character development, a more intricate plot, and more surprises/revelations along the way.

Dan Borengasser has had plays produced throughout the United States and all over the world. He has also had several short screenplays produced, as well as a feature film he helped write.

A Leading Lady

Emmy Award-winning composer Arnold Margolin and Weslie Brown present their hilarious world premiere musical Cinderellish. Elizabeth Summers’ dreams have finally come true. She’s going to write a Broadway musical. There’s only one problem: everyone thinks she’s Elizabeth Somers. Can Elizabeth keep the story going long enough to realize her dreams?

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Melissa Robinette* as Elizabeth Summers in Cinderellish at GVT. 

Melissa Robinette makes her GVT debut as Elizabeth Summers. Robinette, whose credits include Off Broadway’s The Marvelous Wonderettes and Grease (Riverside), is excited to be a part of a production with such a positive message for young women.

Like her character, Robinette grew up with fairy tales and never had faith in being rescued by someone, so when she got the opportunity to work on this musical she was very excited. A young woman who made her own dreams come true, she shares her character’s desire to do the same.

“It’s relatable. We all have dreams and you get distracted along the way, but if you want it bad enough you’ll find a way,” Robinette said.

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Jeremy Abram and Melissa Robinette* in GVT’s production of Cinderellish. 

Robinette’s dream has always been show business and being a part of this world premiere is a great opportunity. The show itself is carefree and fun, written for pure entertainment and the set design reflects that. Along with the set, the intimate theatre makes it easy for the cast to break the fourth wall and interact with the audience, one of the most enjoyable parts of the production for Robinette.

This updated classic runs August 3-6 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org

*denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association.

GVTeen Puts Training to Work

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Stuart Margolin* and Ryan Vaughan rehearsing for On Golden Pond  by Ernest Thompson.

 

Two-time Emmy Award winner Stuart Margolin, together with his former Rockford Files co-star Gretchen Corbett, returns to GVT’s stage to star in Ernest Thompson’s On Golden Pond. For 48 years Ethel and Norman Thayer have spent their summers quietly at their lake house on Golden Pond. However, this year their estranged daughter shakes things up when she leaves her fiancé’s teen-aged son Billy with them. Through the course of their summer, the Thayers, their daughter and Billy are able to let go of the past and form new relationships.

This production has offered an outstanding opportunity for one of GVT’s most exceptional young actors. Ryan Vaughan, a GVTeen, has joined the cast to play the teenager Billy, alongside the talented professional cast.

“When I was first told about their interest in me for the part, I instantly fell in love with this play. I read my character overviews and watched the movie from 1982 six times,” Vaughan said.

The eighth grader’s stage experience started when he was five years old. He played Blowfish in GVT’s student production Go Fish, and he has been a part of GVT’s Education Program ever since. Past shows include Oliver! and several productions of A Christmas Carol.

While he has been acting for many years, working alongside a professional cast for the first time could seem intimidating. However, over the past weeks, the young actor has come to see his cast mates as friends, not TV stars.

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Stuart Margolin* and Ryan Vaughan rehearsing for On Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson.

 

“This show has been a roller coaster since the first day that we started rehearsals. Our cast has developed so many inside jokes that we feel like family,” Vaughan said.

His own family has also been supportive and helpful, working with Vaughan since his earliest production up to now. Vaughan’s mother is continuously amazed by her son and all the commitment he puts into his work. She’s his biggest fan and is constantly amazed at how he brings each character to life.

Playing Pac-Man during rehearsal and listening to Janis Joplin to bring Billy, a teenager from the 80s, to life is the most fun he’s had building a character. He’s having a good time preparing, but the story is what really drew Vaughan to the play.

“To cut to the chase, the real reason I chose to be a part of this was to tell the story of love and reconciled relationships. There is a Norman inside of us somewhere. We can all relate to this show,” Vaughan said.

With opening night right around the corner Vaughan is looking forward to performing, but preview night is his favorite. He’s always felt that the first performance is always the most exciting.

Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org.

 

*denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association.

Revolutionary Rock Opera Remains Relevant

This weekend concludes GVT’s electrifying rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Performances of the blockbuster musical are June 2-4 at 7:30 p.m.

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Christin Byrdsong as Jesus of Nazareth and Josh Robinson as Judas Iscariot. 

Rice and Lloyd Webber use ‘70s-style rock music to tell the story of Jesus’ path to his destiny. Judas Iscariot’s version of the last days of Jesus’ life on earth resonates with all the power and heart of the Gospels.

 

This rock opera revolutionized musical theatre with its 1971 Broadway opening. The first number in a new genre, the production spawned musical masterpieces such as Evita, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.

 

“It’s a piece of history… It was the original rock opera. It has validity, culturally and artistically,” Music Director Kermit Medsker said.

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Kim Morgan Dean* as Mary Magdalene, Christin Byrdsong as Jesus of Nazareth and ensemble.

Medsker, who portrays King Herod, is GVT’s Music Director and feels it’s the music and not the story that makes this show timeless. Moving and catchy rock lyrics, from the beautiful Gethsemane and humorous Herod’s Song keep it from being just another Passion play.

By using the ‘70s rock genre instead of a more traditional musical theatre style, Rice and Lloyd Webber were able to initiate a movement among the youth of the time. The young revolutionaries could relate to Jesus of Nazareth and his quest to upset the status quo and change his world for the better.

“At a time when America’s youth were protesting Vietnam, capital punishment and social injustices, the play affirmed their efforts by reminding us that all great human rights movements echo the radical agenda of Christ,” Director Cathey Sawyer said.

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Christin Byrdsong as Jesus of Nazareth, Kim Morgan Dean* as Mary Magdalene, Jacob Thompson* as Simon Zealotes and ensemble.

Rice and Lloyd Webber’s version of Jesus of Nazareth’s revolution may be surprising, but it is also why the opera is so moving. Kenneth Derby, who was last seen at GVT as Don Quixote in the 2014 production of Man of La Mancha, plays Pontius Pilate. He feels that this different perspective asks important questions about faith and destiny.

 

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DJ Brinson as Priest, Morgan Bartholick as Annas, Anthony Hollock* as Caiaphas and Kenneth Derby* as Pontius Pilate. 

“For me, this point of view opens further interesting questions such as why was Jesus’
death predetermined for this particular year. If Judas’ actions are outside of his control, can he be held culpable?” Derby said.

 

These are the very questions that have made this compelling and controversial rock opera one of history’s most important pieces of theatre.

Producing such an important musical was a challenge well worth the work. With two and a half weeks of rehearsal, GVT actors, musicians and technicians came together to put on a show whose significant message still moves audiences, even after 40 years.

Rice and Lloyd Webber’s rock opera runs June 2-4 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org.

*denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association.

Comedy and Calamity

 

Kaufman and Hart’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway hit shares the story of the Sycamores, a large and peculiar family, with one very normal daughter Alice. When Alice invites her fiancé and his conservative parents to dinner with these eccentric individuals their meeting goes off with a bang. With all the gags and hijinks in store, you’ll be laughing from beginning to end.

 

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Corbin Williams and Melissa Weisbach.

appearance, status, partaking in ‘fashionable’ interests, etc. These things don’t interest the Sycamores, not one bit,” said Melissa Weisbach, making her debut at GVT as Alice Sycamore.

While Alice struggles with her own family, Tony has similar problems with his. Tony desperately wants to escape and live the carefree lifestyle the Sycamores enjoy.

“I think that Tony may have been born into the wrong family. Unfortunately he’s been stuck under his father’s thumb for so long that he doesn’t quite see how fun and exciting life can be until he meets Alice,” said Corbin Williams, also debuting at GVT as Tony Kirby. “She really helps bring out the best in him and I think that he feels more comfortable with her than he does with his parents.”

Tony Kirby and Alice Sycamore are perfect for each other; each has something the other

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Stephanie Bachman, Melissa Weisbach,  Corbin Williams, Alan Ball* and Joe Candelora*. * denotes members of Actors’ Equity Association. 

needs. They are willing to do whatever it takes to lead a happy life, just like the Sycamores.

“I don’t think Kaufman and Hart expect us to only do the things that make us happy, but I do think they want us to consider the possibility. In doing so, hopefully we find that delicate balance between work and play and find inspiration in pursuing something just for the fun of it,” said Williams.

This offbeat Broadway love story runs April 8 & 9, 14-16 and 21-23 at 7:30 p.m. with a Pay-What-You-Can Preview performance April 7 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee performance April 23 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $27 for seniors and $20 for children/students. For tickets or more information, call GVT’s Box Office at 304-645-3838 or visit www.gvtheatre.org.