Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Those Canaan Days

Posted by Bruce Miller
Being, as it is, the first day of Autumn, I would be remiss to say goodbye to the Summer of ’09 without recognizing that a quarter century has passed since Barksdale began the most prosperous two years of its history. It was on Friday, June 29, 1984 that Barksdale opened Randy Strawderman’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a success of Biblical proportions. The smash hit musical took Richmond by storm. It ran for over two years at Hanover Tavern and then headed out of town on national tour. Joseph was directed and choreographed by Randy, with music direction and arrangements by Barry Hayes, setting and costumes by Jann Paxton, and lighting by Katrina Allison. James Hughes, a virtual unknown with no professional stage experience, starred in the title role, with Sandee Flores (née Hayes) co-starring as the Narrator, the role of her career.

The incomparable Jay Lundy appeared as the patriarch Jacob, and the now ubiquitous David Clark, Larry Cook, and Cynde Liffick (née Cindy) made their first big splashes on the Richmond theatre scene.

The rest of the original cast included Robin Arthur, Regina Christopher, Karen Elaine Cress, Holly Dudley, Robert Easter, Adam Harris, Paul Haynes, Kevin Henshaw, Tyler Lincks, Connie Manson, Harry McEnerny, Robert Pemberton, Don Semmens, Bernard Toliver, and Bryan Wade. Tracy Adams, Graham Cheek, Michael Cole, Philip Jowdy, Rhonda Lipscomb, Bobby Mauney, and Norvell Robinson Jr. joined as replacements and alternates later in the summer.

Terry Little served as Production Stage Manager. Barbara Stanitski stage managed (to be replaced later in the summer by Sybel Crone). Richmond artists Bill Nelson (poster graphic) and Clifford Earl (sun sculpture that held center stage) added immeasurably to the production. Rook Strong and Doug Draucker (alternating with David Jewett) joined Barry Hayes in the onstage combo.

In those days gone by, Barksdale did not have a “season” or “subscribers,” and when a show was a hit, it simply kept running. Joseph certainly was a hit, and its phenomenal run broke Richmond longevity records for all time.

So as we bid farewell to this Silver Anniversary Summer, all of us at Barksdale offer many thanks to the innumberable theatre artists who have added so much to our company’s history. Your incomparable efforts and talents will live on our stage / your stage forever, long after the final curtain of any one particular show.

Your presence is felt and honored.

--Bruce Miller

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was delightful reading about your memories of Theatre IV's little-known but crucial role in the transition of the the Lowe's movie Theater into the Virginia Center for the Performing Arts (later Carpenter Center, now part of Center Stage). Did you know that Barksdale's tour of JOSEPH also played the Carpenter Center? I can't recall if it was at the beginning or end of the tour, but remember being grateful to catch it downtown!
- Rosie