Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Faces and Old Favorites Rev up for Becky's New Car

Posted by Bruce Miller
When Steven Dietz's brand new comedy, Becky's New Car, starts its engines in 11 days at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern, the audience will be charmed by a high octane cast of seven, three of whom will be performing at Barksdale for the first time.

Becky is played by none other than Richmond acting queenpin, Melissa Johnston Price (pictured to the right). Believe it or not (I scarcely believe it myself), this will be Melissa's first, full-fledged Barksdale production.

It's true. At least I think it is. Melissa's credits have been the stuff of legend in Richmond for the last three decades, but her reputation for excellence has all been earned elsewhere.

To be precise, Melissa did appear last fall in the Bootleg Shakespeare production of Titus Andronicus, co-pro'ed by Henley Street Theatre and Barksdale. But the wonderfully wacky Bootleg performances, by design, are barely fledged at all. The entire cast rehearses all morning and afternoon on the day of performance, and that's it.

Also, Melissa starred in The Full Plate Collection, co-pro'ed by Erin Thomas Foley, Jenny Jones Hundley, Irene Ziegler Aston and Barksdale during 2010's Minds Wide Open--Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts. Our role in that partnership was to provide a performance space and a little advice every now and then, and otherwise stay out of the way. So I don't think we can count Full Plate as Melissa's Barksdale debut.

Melissa also has appeared with Theatre IV, but it was quite a while ago, in our co-productions of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (with The Production Company) and Boom Town (with Essential Theatre). Even then, Theatre IV's involvement in the actual artistic product was next to nothing.

So, here she is, identified only a few months ago as one of Central Virginia's two favorite actresses by the readers of STYLE Weekly, FINALLY joining the pit crew at Richmond's nonprofit, resident professional theatre. We're counting our lucky stars.

The other two newcomers in Becky's cast are Christine Fonsale (pictured above and to the left), a Virginia actress who is well known to audiences in Williamsburg and the DC area, and Evan Nasteff (pictured below and to the right), best known by those Richmonders who savor him as the suave and sultry bartender at Off The Hookah in Shockoe Slip.

Christine is an audio book narrator for the Library of Congress. She received theatrical training at the Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts' Honors Conservatory Program in Washington, DC, and participated in Master Classes at DC's nationally renowned Shakespeare Theatre Company. Her credits include Tales of Love and Sausages for Faction of Fools, DC Microfictions for the Alliance Fran├žaise of Washington, and I Ought to Be in Pictures for the Little Theatre of Norfolk.

In her hometown of Williamsburg, Christine appeared in Polly Honeycombe, Cry Witch!, A Salute to Our Nation, His Excellency's Pleasure Garden, and Lady Dunmore's Ball, all for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Evening Programs.

Evan holds a BA in Theatre from Hampden-Sydney College. Previous stage credits include MacBeth, Richard III, Rashomon, Art (by Yasmina Reza, author of God of Carnage), Waiting for Godot, and Noises Off!

Rounding out the terrific cast under Billy Christopher Maupin's direction are Barksdale favorites:
* Gordon Bass (green shirt - To Kill a Mockingbird, Melissa Arctic, Das Barbecu),
* David Bridgewater (yellow shirt - Is He Dead?, Moonlight and Magnolias, The Drawer Boy, The Lark, The Crucible, Cyrano de Bergerac, Annie Get Your Gun, Over the River and Through the Woods, The Odd Couple),
*Daniel Moore (red tie - Circle Mirror Transformation, The Little Foxes), and
*Maggie Roop (green bracelet - First Baptist of Ivy Gap, Doubt, Guys and Dolls).

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre, in whatever colored clothing and/or accessories you choose to wear. In 11 short days the garage door opens and Becky's New Car finally hits the road.

--Bruce Miller

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