Judy Collins and My Big Pandemic Birthday

Words by Penny Neef
Images courtesy of Virginia Arts Festival

I just had a big birthday, a giant birthday, a birthday so massive that it ends in a zero and I’m closer to 100 than I care to admit. I came of age in the 60’s. I marched to protest the war in Vietnam. I listened to Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins. Three women who wrote songs, came to the marches and sang for the times. 

My big birthday came during the pandemic. No birthday celebrations for me. I’ve come this far practicing social distancing, wearing a mask when I do go out, and washing the skin off my hands so I’m not pressing my luck. 

Everyone has had disappointments and even tragedy this year. Having a birthday without my family is not a big deal. I did get just a little happier when I found out that Virginia Arts Festivalwas having a virtual concert, direct from Chrysler Hall, starring Judy Collins with Chatham County Line on my actual birthday.

Three men seated. Two men look into the distance, one at the camera. Man in the middle has a cowboy hat.
Chatham County Line

 I’m at the age where I don’t need any more “stuff”. I’d rather go to a concert or have a weekend away. I want to enjoy an experience, not get more things. A virtual concert with one of my favorite singers from the time when I felt I could change the world? It sounded like the next best thing.

The process was simple. I purchased a ticket through the VAF website. It’s nice to purchase one ticket and as many people as are in your “pod” can watch the concert on that one ticket. There are only two of us in our pod, but we were going to get dressed up, order some fancy carryout and watch Judy Collins on our big screen TV.

After coming back from a long birthday bike ride on a beautiful, but hot Saturday, just to prove that I still could ride long and hard, I took a shower and was very unmotivated to get dressed up for the concert. Judy would just have to sing to me in my sweats. She would never know.

I had a confirmation email from VAF. I clicked on the link, hit play, and there was Judy Collins on the stage at Chrysler Hall. My first thought was that I miss Chrysler Hall. I have seen so many great performances there, from Virginia Symphony Orchestra, to Hamilton, to Dance Theatre of Harlem to Gladys Knight. It was sad to see it so empty. Even the stage looked sparse. Judy Collins was in the middle, with her long-time musical director Russell Walden at the piano. The four members of Chatham County Linefrom Raleigh, NC, were spread out in a socially distanced manner around her. 

Theatre auditorium with empty seats with band on the stage.
Theatre auditorium with empty seats with band on the stage.

Judy Collins is tall and slim. She was wearing a long sparkly something. She is 81 years old now, and has the chutzpah to wear a big, blond, Dolly Pardon style wig. Judy Collins was and is a folk singer. She was a hippie in the 60’s and should be an old hippie (like me) now. She didn’t need that wig. Those blue eyes that Stephen Stills wrote about in Suite: Judy Blue Eyes still sparkle.

Once I got over that wig, I started to enjoy the concert. Chatham County Line have played with Collins in the past. They are excellent bluegrass musicians and harmonize well with Collins’ soprano voice.

Collins has been singing and touring for 60 years. She plays both guitar and piano. Her voice is not what it was back in the day, but she is fearless and natural on stage. She spoke to us viewers at home, telling stories about Stephen Stills, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell. 

Blonde woman (Judy Collins) playing guitar singing into microphone.
Judy Collins singing at Chrysler Hal

Joni Mitchell gave Collins one of her biggest hits, when she called her at 3:00 am one morning and sang Both Sides Nowto her over the phone. Judy recorded it first, something Joni Mitchell probably later regretted. Collins recorded several of Leonard Cohen’s songs. She says that she was the one who encouraged him to start performing his own work.

Virtual concerts are not the same as being there, in a big space with other people. Judy really tried. She sang and played, told stories and jokes, but there was no one in the audience to laugh and respond. There was no collective gasp when she would start singing one of her huge hits and no applause after each song. 

It all seemed a little flat. It’s just not the same. Is it better than nothing? Yes. I am so happy that VAF and other arts organizations are making the effort to bring us music, dancing and the arts as best they can. It helps us remember why the arts are so important. Judy Collins and the leader of Chatham County Line both thanked VAF for supporting artists during these troubling times.

For someone of my now advanced age, Judy Collins singing on the stage to an empty Chrysler Hall brought back memories of college, backpacking through Europe in 1971, deep indignation of a futile war in Vietnam, and hopes for a huge future spread out in front of me. It made a pandemic birthday just a little bit better.

The Lady Alchemist by Samantha Vitale

Words by Denise Bishop
Images courtesy of Samantha Vitale

Book Review and Author Interview

The Lady Alchemist is an exciting Young Adult/Fantasy debut novel by Hampton Roads author Samantha Vitale. Seventeen-year-old Sepha has grown up in Three Mills, a mill town in the middle of the island nation of Tirenia. After her mother’s death when she was a girl, she was raised by a mentally and physically abusive father who, among other offenses, pulled her from school to work at the mill when she began to suffer from a kind of dyslexia as a child. When Alchemist begins, Sepha is heading to the mill for a demonstration of her self-taught alchemical skills. If the demonstration is successful, it could mean a revitalization of Three Mills. Unfortunately, a slip of the tongue lands Sepha in a sticky situation. Unable to turn straw into gold, she is forced to make a contract with an undead magician: she has a year to make a body for him or he will take the body of her first born child.

Vitale does an excellent job creating the world of Tirenia from its past war with (and subsequent oppression of) neighboring country Detenia to its battle-ravaged plains to its famed Institute of Alchemical Discipline. This is a land where Court Alchemists are revered and Military Alchemists are feared. But as much as alchemy is valued, magic is illegal and magicians must be punished. Sepha must keep her contract with the magician a secret as she travels to the Institute and beyond as she searches for a way to create a body for him through alchemy.

Though Sepha’s story starts out simple enough, recognizable as a modified retelling of the Brothers Grimm Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, it quickly grows more and more complex and compelling. Haunted by the memory of her controlling father, Sepha journeys to the coast to the Institute of Alchemical Discipline along with Ruhan, a handsome aspiring young alchemist also heading to the Institute for study who has a knack for saving Sepha’s life (and stirring her heart), and Destry, a fierce Military Alchemist who has been assigned by the Magistrate to assist with Sepha’s studies.

As Sepha learns more about alchemy (and, of course, herself along the way), she discovers that things are not always what they seem and she might even have a few allies, if she can bring herself to ignore the doubting voice in her head and learn to trust them.

image of the author: a white woman with brown hair and glasses

I spoke with Samantha Vitale recently about The Lady Alchemist and her experience as a writer:

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Growing up in a Navy family, I moved a lot, but books were a constant. Reading and stories have always been really close to my heart. I always wanted to write, but I didn’t think that I would ever get to be a writer. Then I had kids. After my first son was born, I realized how much time I had. Just because I have a full time job, that doesn’t mean I don’t have time to write.

Who and what are some of your favorite authors and books?

  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – she’s amazing.
  • Brandon Sanderson – his plots are amazing with a really long slow build.
  • Susan Denner
  • Angie Thomas – The Hate U Give and On the Come Up – they are really important and deserve all the praise they’ve received.
  • N.K. Jemison

Where do you draw inspiration?
I read non-fiction books or I watch documentaries. The real world inspires me because the universe is really cool. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.

In much of recent fiction, magic and magicians are generally portrayed as good. What made you decide to make them evil in Tirenia?
It’s easy to fear the stuff that you don’t understand and can’t understand, especially when something powerful is happening. Both on a personal level and on a political scale (as in people I can’t control or imprison).

When you write for young audiences, do you consciously include lessons, such as Sepha’s learning who to trust? 
I tend not to really enjoy books that try to teach me something, like allegories. With Sepha, I used her to work through some of the things I have struggled with: trusting people and moving past the negative voice in her head. So it was less about telling others a lesson and more about sharing my story. So if a reader had a similar situation, I want them to know they’re not the only one going through it; there is a way out. It’s less about teaching a lesson, and more about extending a hand.

Can you tell me a little about your process writing this book? Did you outline first or write from start to finish?
I don’t have a general process; it depends on the story. This one is a Rumplestiltskin retelling, so the framework was already there. I usually start with the world and build out from there. Once you understand the world and the main character, the rest of the story naturally builds out. I do create an outline (for the illusion of control), but when I’m writing, the characters often do something else. 

Have you done anything locally to promote the book and connect with readers?
The Slover Library had a Local Authors Virtual Fair over the summer. They also have some great writing classes.

What advice do you have for young writers?
Keep reading. Read in a lot of genres. And write. You don’t have to write anything good. You can write fan fiction or original stuff. Be careful who you take writing advice from. You may find yourself paralyzed from conflicting advice. Find advice from an author that you love, filter out the rest, and then go write.

Vitale also wanted to share the story of how this story came to be: 
After I decided to write a book, it took a year and a half. It was barely past a rough draft, but I loved it. I signed up for a pitch conference in New York. On the first day, I attended a pitch workshop, and when I gave my pitch during the workshop the guy running the workshop said my pitch was so bad that he didn’t even have advice for me. After that, we broke for lunch. What do I do? Do I leave? Do I stay? I called my husband and decided to stay. I went home to my grandparents house where I was staying and thought, I can’t save this idea. So that night, I came up with a new idea. Overnight, I came up with a new idea for a new story, and I came up with a new pitch. The next day, I gave the new pitch and the guy running the workshop looked at me like “You came up with this?” and I was like “Yes”. So I pitched The Lady Alchemist, instead of my other book. By the end of the conference, I had interest from a woman to publish The Lady Alchemist. So to aspiring writers, I say, you will probably faceplant. In front of other people. But it is not the end. Be ready to fail and keep going anyway.

Book 2 in this series has been submitted to the publisher but does not yet have a release date due to the pandemic.

The Lady Alchemist on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Indiebound.
Samantha Vitale on Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Web.

Samantha Vitale has an insatiable hunger for two things: big challenges and amazing  stories. When not working at her highly technical day job, she can be found devouring  books or writing new ones of her own. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two small humans.

An American Daughter at Little Theatre of Virginia Beach

Words by Christopher Bernhardt.
Photos courtesy of Little Theatre Virginia Beach.

The Little Theatre of Virginia Beach presents this political drama that looks at the double standards facing women in politics that ran rampant in the 90s and are still so very prevalent today. 

In Wendy Wasserstein’s play, Dr. Lyssa Dent Hughes is pending the confirmation for her nomination by the President of the United States to be the U.S. Surgeon General. As the action unfolds, we begin to see how things that happen in the life of a professional woman with a career and children are viewed and treated differently than that of a man, if he had been in the same position.

The production presented by LTVB is a valiant attempt at tackling such a difficult piece of theatre. Line flubs and under-developed characters took away from the drama of the show but the performances of two amazing actresses; Catherine Gendell and Isis Marne’, make this production a “Must See”.

In the role of Dr. Lyssa Dent Hughes, Catherine Gendell is phenomenal and drives the action of the play from start to finish. Throughout the production, we watch as Gendell creates a woman who starts off as confident and determined; and evolves into a stunning and strong fighter who does not buckle against her emotions, the political patriarchy of the country or the needs that are required by a woman who loves her family and gives 100% of herself in everything that she does. Watching Gendell in this role felt like watching a master class from the most experienced and expert performer. She performs with such raw and powerful emotion that you can only root for her to rise above the hurdles that are placed in front of her and celebrate her as she finds her way out of the political turmoil created by her career, the media and her family.

A scene from LTVB's An American Daughter. Two actors chase each other around the stage with a pillow.

As Dr. Judith B. Kaufman, Isis Marne’ is a fantastic supporting stage partner for Ms. Gendell, and as they say, she makes her partner look good while still managing to have her shining moments in the spotlight. As an “African American Jewish feminist” doctor, Ms. Marne’ brings some honest and raw emotional moments that make you feel the struggles that she is going through within her own life while still trying to be there for her best friend. These two women provide some of the strongest and most outstanding performances that I have ever seen at the Little Theatre of Virginia Beach.

The reminder of the cast is adequate in their roles; however, as an audience member, it felt like several of the cast members waited until only a week or two before production to learn their lines or even start developing their characters. Luckily, Ms. Gendell and Ms. Marne’ are able to rise above this and take this production to the next level.

Under the direction of Kathy Strouse, the show has some fine moments but it felt like some of the scene changes took too long and the audience was left sitting in the “dark” while watching the forms of the set crew make minor changes that should not have taken as long as they did. Some of the longer scene changes could have honestly been done under that regular lighting since it was mainly the camera crew and equipment coming to interview Dr. Hughes about her pending confirmation. The action of the play could have moved along without the blacks out or the long scene changes and helped build the intensity of the situation at hand. Ms. Strouse adeptly helped her actors create their characters; however, there are several who could have used a little more attention that would have only elevated this production even further. 

One big faux pas, was a combination of the set design by Bob Sauls and the direction of Ms. Strouse, there is a moment in the production where a character goes and looks at the books on the wall and even makes an attempt to touch one of the books; however, the books are not real and are painted onto the piece of the wall. This brings unneeded attention to a piece of the set that, if it remained untouched, could have been a nice enhancement. 

The most effective technical element of the show were the costumes designed by Tiffany Shortridge. They were appropriate for the time period and the setting of the show. Ms. Shortridge captured the last nineties very effectively and made me feel nostalgic for a time in my past. 

A scene from LTVB's An American Daughter. Two actors are sitting on stools talking like in an interview.

With all of these elements combined, this is a very interesting, thought provoking and empowering show that will leave you asking when things will change. When will women and men truly be treated as equals and receive the same treatment and scrutiny when applying for jobs, careers, or even confirmation or a political position? Even now, over 20 years after this show is set, women are still fighting for their rights to be treated fairly and equally and Little Theatre of Virginia Beach’s choice to present this show was a wise one to show where we were, how far we have come and how much farther there is still to go. 

Thanks to the performances of Ms. Gendell and Ms. Marne’ and the words and story of Wendy Wasserstein, An American Daughter is a show that is not to be missed and will hopefully leave you wanting more. 

At the time of publishing, Little Theatre of Virginia Beach has announced that the show will play its remaining dates from May 22nd – June 7th. Tickets are available here.

Modern Age – Court Street Company Single Drops Friday (online)

Words by BA Ciccolella
Album Art by Harry Slater 
Photos by Jeremy Bates

One of the many events cancelled due to the latest state of emergency was Court Street Company’s single release party, which had been originally set for this Friday, March 20th at the Taphouse Grill in Norfolk. Luckily for everyone stuck at home these days, although the party has been cancelled, the single release has not!

I got a sneak peak at Court Street Company’s new single. I’m not going to try to fake my way through anything that might seem like an official review- I’m a theatrical designer and technician by trade, and when I worked for the local Symphony, the musicians used to kindly shake their heads when I got excited about how “I know that one from Looney Tunes!” (I was upfront with the band about my lack of skills in this area, and yet still were cool with sending me a preview of their new single, which makes them pretty awesome people.)

Court Street Company standing in the sand by a tree.

The band was kind enough to send me a write up about the single itself. Here we are- direct from Court Street Company’s mouths:

“Modern Age” is the lead single from Court Street Company’s upcoming full-length album. The track is bright, upbeat and anthemic. The song blends huge driving guitars with waves of vocal harmonies and big danceable drums in an almost Killer’s-like fashion. It marks an evolution in the band’s songwriting and sound yet remains true to Court Street Company’s sonic identity of alternative rock meets harmony-centric power pop.

That all sounds right to me, and what I can tell you additionally is that I loved it! It’s catchy, it made me smile during a very stress filled week, and I think it will be a great tune for everyone to dance along to in their living rooms on Friday while social distancing. Then once all this is over, we can find their next gig, and hear it live- together!

So everyone send a HUGE congratulations to Court Street Company this Friday (but do so from at least 6′ away, or maybe hit them up on their Facebook). We will be updating this article with the link to their single once it is released- so remember to check back!

Attention Everyone: The Single Is Available!!
Spotify
Music Video

Court Street Company standing in the sand.

Court Street Company also sent me a bio for anyone less familiar with them:

Serving up harmony drenched rock n’ roll since 2017, Court Street Company formed amid southeastern Virginia’s indie music renaissance and quickly earned the moniker of “Portsmouth’s Rock Band”. Within a year of forming, the quartet released 2 singles, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Fall Away”, propelling the band from playing coffeehouses to headlining Norfolk’s The NorVa (Rolling Stone Magazine’s Best Venue) twice. In the spring of 2019, they released “Olde Towne”, a 5 song EP named after the historic district of Portsmouth that the band calls home. “Olde Towne” would go on to be nominated as VEER Magazine’s EP of the Year, with its closing track “Indigo” garnering a Song of the Year nomination. 2019 would also see Court Street Company sharing the stage with national acts, most notably heartland rockers Bodeans, power pop legends The Producers, and dream pop pioneers The Ocean Blue. The band returned to the studio at the end of the year to record their debut full-length album.

The Legend of Georgia McBride – Virginia Stage Company

Words by Rebecca Edwards
Photos by Akin Ritchie

There’s always something special about attending an opening night performance. I recently had the privilege and pleasure to attend the opening for The Legend of Georgia McBride directed by Bruce Warren at the Wells Theatre.  The night was electric, and I walked away loving the performance more than I expected. 

The lobby was full of people when we walked in. Cupcakes and champagne had been set out for patrons to enjoy before the show. There were so many vibrant colors and conversations filling the night. You couldn’t help but notice the beautiful queens who had come to see themselves on the stage. Their makeup was flawless, dresses full of sparkle, and an indescribable vibe that spread through the theatre.

I was immediately drawn to this production when I saw it announced during the last season. There was something different, and I couldn’t wait to experience it. I had no clue what to expect. I soon learned that my excitement was well-justified. The Legend of Georgia McBride is the story of a man, Casey, played by Max Falls, who learns to have pride in following his dream. He is a professional Elvis Impersonator who is unexpectedly fired after learning his family is about to multiply. Circumstances change and he must do something he never imagined doing to provide for his wife and family. He discovers that all roads aren’t the same and while some may seem like they’re turning away from the final destination, they are really just helping you learn to love yourself and become the best version of you. No journey is complete without someone to share a little tough love. Miss Tracy Mills, a well-versed drag queen, is brought to life by the phenomenal actor Steve Pacek. She is the epitome of “the glass is half full” and “you make your own destiny”. Together they follow their dreams and find their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

An image from The Legend of Georgia McBride at VSC. An Elvis impersonator performing on stage.

My first view of the stage raised the gooseflesh on my arms. The simplicity of a stand-up mic all alone on the platform in what looked like a dive bar… textured floors, gaudy glowing neon signs, a dingy table for two, and a working set of stage lights to highlight the bar stage… immediately caught my eye. David L. Arsenault’s scenic design was impressive throughout the performance. The nuance and detail was superb. The seamless transition from night club to apartment to backstage was splendid and each had the same painstaking detail. I hadn’t seen anything like it before and thoroughly enjoyed the technical aspect of the set. I itched to go on stage after the performance just to soak it all in! 

The house lights dimmed and we were transported by Sinan Refik Zafar’s sound design. His talent and editing abilities really shone through the lip-sync performances. So many cuts and choices, it was truly impressive. 

The intimate ensemble of five performers were well cast and breathed so much life and personality into these fascinating characters. Pacek created a Miss Tracy that in my mind will never be duplicated or improved. She was soft and strong at the same time. Her presence was mesmerizing. I was particularly impressed later in the show when we see Pacek out of drag and completely make-up free in an emotional scene with Falls. Shortly after he was back on stage in full makeup and flawless- the transformation was magical! Pacek’s solid performance leaves you wanting more. 

Falls brings a wholesome refinement to a naïve Casey.  I admire how he has embraced this character and made it his own. His talent shines through not only his acting, but his singing and dancing as well. 

Samaria Nixon-Fleming’s performance as Jo, Casey’s wife, was sincere. You could feel her frustration as she struggled with her husband who hasn’t quite collected his adulting card. Her love for him was obvious and appeared genuine. 

Club owner Eddie was played by Bill Rogers with gusto. I enjoyed watching his growth from failing bar owner to all-in ally embracing the changes and prosperity that build his confidence. 

Brandon Curry rounded out the cast as Rexy/Jason. He bounced effortlessly between married, straight landlord Jason and over the top queen Rexy. Her moment of truth with Casey absolutely struck a chord. There were two queens in the audience sitting near me and to watch their emotional response to everything was humbling. 

I think we as the average theatre goer don’t realize just how impactful it is to see yourself on the stage under the lights. I saw the impact for the ENTIRE audience and it was moving. 

Lighting designer Akin Ritchie created such stunning images throughout the performance. I loved each of Miss Tracy’s lip-sync scenes. There were a variety of brilliant tableaus throughout the entire production. I enjoyed RASPBERRIES the most! 

An image from The Legend of Georgia McBride at VSC. Two performers with a fan routine.

Have I mentioned the costumes?! Oh girl!!! Miss Tracy’s wardrobe was TO. DIE. FOR. Bryce Turgeon’s vision and execution was more than words can ever describe. There were distinct color schemes for each character that carried seamlessly from beginning to end. The feathers, the sparkles, the lace… impeccable! His impressive resume doesn’t give enough credit for what I saw on that stage! The details not only in the dresses, but the matching handbags and hats; the costume reveals beneath other costumes… astonishing! 

The “Costume Pit Crew” was a fun addition to the show and made the transitions fun to watch. It was a smart move to incorporate them onto the stage and into the scenes. Steven Perfidia Kirkham’s wig design was a true complement to the incredible lines and color presented through the costumes on stage.

This show is a MUST SEE for EVERYONE! It maintains a balance between campy, serious, emotional and fun through the acting of Pacek, Falls, and the entire cast. 

Tickets are limited, especially now with the modified schedule. The Virginia Stage Company has announced that out of an abundance of caution, and due to concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), they have decided to cancel the final week of performances for The Legend of Georgia McBride, March 18-22. The production will officially close with the 7:30pm performance on Sunday, March 15. For these final weekend performances (March 13-15), VSC will limit the amount of seats available to keep the gathering under 300 people. 

To see more about their decision and plan of action, please contact the theatre directly through their website. Please don’t let this precaution deter you from taking the opportunity to see this magnificent show.  If you are healthy and looking to do something fun, I strongly encourage you to take a chance and enjoy The Legend of Georgia McBride.

UPDATE:
VSC has cancelled all remaining performances. They will close the show with their matinee 3-14-20.

The Legend of Georgia McBride plays at the Virginia Stage Company through March 15, 2020.

Wars Within A War – A Piece of My Heart at Little Theater Norfolk

Words by Nathan M. Jacques
Photos by Lisa Hogan

A Piece of My Heart, written by Shirley Lauro, tells the story of six women who found themselves thrust into the middle of the chaos of the controversial Vietnam War. Although bonded and united by their common duty to care for a multitude of war casualties, each woman faced their own internal battles alone.

Director Kelly Gilliam and Assistant Director Kathryn Finney, taking the helm of the Little Theatre of Norfolk’s production of this compelling piece, have essentially crafted a work of art. The Little Theatre of Norfolk’s production of A Piece of My Heart is easily one of the best presentations personally experienced to date at this venue.

Although this story was based on the Vietnam War, many of the issues presented in the piece are applicable to today’s men and women of the armed forces- particularly the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. The women portrayed in the story must rapidly adjust to their harsh, unpredictable surroundings in order to save American lives during the conflict- clearly foreshadowing their post-war adjustments back into civilian society- which was also harsh for those who returned from Vietnam. 

A Piece of My Heart requires a cast of actors that is able to portray a wide range of characters and also reach extraordinary levels of emotional intensity. Director Gilliam has assembled a dream-team of actors for this production. The cast consists of Peyton Henderson, Corenn Holmes, Louise Casini Hollis, Moriah Joy, Samantha Santee, Sami Topping, and Peter Scheible.  Every actor selected for this production was cast superbly for each role(s).

A scene from L.T.N's A Piece of My Heart. Nurses react to their surroundings.

Witnessing each actor embody and transition into a different character was astounding to say the least. The cast tasked with said transitions demonstrates the impressive level of talent present in this production.  As the show progresses, each character wrestles with the impact of the war on their lives physically and mentally both during the war and years after the conflict.

The show’s pacing reflects that of what one would expect a warzone would have. One moment peace- in the next moment, total chaos.  Lauro’s writing, combined with the skill of this cast and crew, gives a terrifying (and effective) glimpse into the madness of what these American heroes witnessed.

A scene from L.T.N's A Piece of My Heart. An intelligence officer talks about her struggle getting people to listen to her reports.

The collaboration between set designer Terry Flint, lighting designer B. Butterbaugh, sound designer Charles Owrey, costumer Kathy Hinson, and props master Robin Martineau complements and accentuates the journey the actors share with the audience. The set for A Piece of My Heart is simplistic, yet effective.  Impressive also was the fact that every item on stage served a purpose which kept the scenes uncluttered with no distractions.

Without delving too deep into spoiler territory, a handful of scenes often transitioned from serene to intense situations within a matter of seconds. These moments emphasized the powerful lighting and sound design of this production. 

The entire cast, crew, and production team have done a superb job in telling the story of six women who found camaraderie within chaos and reminding us that for some, wars don’t always end on a battlefield.

This particular production, part of the the Norfolk Theatre Festival, is nothing short of a master class in theatrical genius. 

UPDATE:
Out of an abundance of caution, and due to concerns about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), LTN has decided to cancel the final two weekends of performances, and ticket sales have been suspended for the rest of this weekend.

A Piece of My Heart runs through March 15th at the Little Theatre of Norfolk.