Saturday, October 15, 2011

Saturday Salmagundi

Posted by Bruce Miller
It's another week's end grab bag post, but since I didn't really want to use the words "grab bag" again, I searched for synonyms and found "salmagundi," a noun, meaning "a salad plate of chopped meats, anchovies, eggs, and vegetables arranged in rows for contrast and dressed with a salad dressing (sounds good), or a heterogeneous mixture of anything, a hodgepodge." So, this post is not a Weekend Grab Bag; it's a Saturday Salmagundi!

Many thanks to singers Robin Harris, Christie Jackson, Katrinah Lewis, and Anthony Smith (who also played piano); narrator Phil Whiteway; and staffers Derek Dumais, Chase Kniffen, Bruce Rennie, and Brittany Taylor for pulling together the movie music cabaret we presented on Thursday evening for the Metro Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau (under the title As Time Goes By) and on Friday for the Virginia State Rotary Convention (under the title Hooray for Hollywood). Both programs went very well, I thought, providing solid entertainment for their intended audiences.

Kimberly Akimbo, the inaugural production in our new Theatre Gym partnership with Cadence Theatre Company, previewed on Thursday and opened on Friday with two terrific performances. I'm going tonight (I was tied up with the cabaret on Thursday and Friday), and can't wait to see this fun, quirky, heartfelt comedy. Artistically, the show is a huge success, I'm told by people I trust, but ticket sales are sluggish. We had about 20 audience members on Thursday and 15 on Friday--five of whom were critics or their plus ones. The show runs in the Theatre Gym (81 seats) in the Empire complex now through Nov 5.

We know from lots of previous experience that reviving anything successful, like Theatre Gym, takes time. It's hard to sell tickets when three other shows (Lend Me a Tenor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Merchant of Venice) are in their closing week, and Wicked and the Richmond Folk Festival are working their magic at other venues.

My hopes for the Cadence/Theatre Gym partnership are strong as ever. All of you who would like to see Theatre Gym return, or would like to support Anna Johnson's terrific Cadence Theatre Company, or who just want to see a great new show--please buy your tickets today by calling the Barksdale box office at 282-2620. Or, if you want to buy them online, you can do so at

All box office receipts go to pay the salaries of the theatre artists participating (Cast: Richard Koch, Matt Mitchell, Jill Bari Steinberg, Debra Wagoner, Irene Ziegler; Director and Designers: Anna Johnson, Lily Lamberta, Matthew Landwehr, Terrie Powers; Assistant Directors, Stage Manager, House Managers, Other Staff: Tomas Bell, Brian Baez, Jason Campbell, Jay Paul Photography, David Powers, Melissa Rayford, Jesse Senechal, Susan Senechal, Claire Yenson--some of whom may be working as volunteers).

Top ticket price is only $26, with $19 tickets for Barksdale/TIV subscribers or groups of 10 or more, and $10 tickets for students. I'm hoping that tonight, tomorrow, and next weekend will do land office business. There's a special 7 pm industry performance (open to anyone) on Tuesday, Nov 1.

The Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards will take place tomorrow (Sunday) in the Empire Theatre at 7 pm. The orchestra is sold out, but there are still plenty of good seats upstairs in the balcony. (That's where Phil and I will be!) Tickets are only $15 for a grandly entertaining evening, and 100% of all box office receipts goes to support TAF (the Theatre Artists Fund). You can purchase tickets by calling the Barksdale box office at 282-2620, or online at Click "Special Events & Programs" in the menu to the left of the home page, then click "RTCC on Oct 16" in the drop down menu.

Phil and I debated again this year whether or not to reserve a block of tickets for the theatre artists with whom we were privileged to work last season, and decided again not to do so. I've been told that Chamberlayne Actors Theatre, Henley Street Theatre (Jacquie O'Connor), Richmond Shakespeare (Grant Mudge), and Richmond Triangle Players all purchased blocks of seats to resell and/or distribute to their home teams, and some people have wondered aloud why we haven't. It appears that AART, Barksdale/TIV, Firehouse, and Swift Creek have all chosen not to try to seat their casts together.

Our rationale is this: virtually every theatre artist who works at Barksdale and Theatre IV also works at other theatres in town. We really don't have and don't seek a "home team"; we think our "home team" includes everybody. We wouldn't want any artists to be put in a position where they had to decide which theatre's section they wanted to join for this community-wide celebration. Tomorrow night, the Barksdale/TIV family will be spread out throughout the audience, just as during the season they spread themselves out amongst all of Richmond's theatres. That seems appropriate to us. We mean no insult to anyone in the Barksdale/TIV "family," each of whom we respect enormously.

We're VERY excited that two of our nominees this year are coming to the awards event from out of town--and they're both competing in the same category! Best Actress - Musicals nominees Rachel Abrams and Michelle Lookadoo have their tickets reserved. Rachel flew in from St. Louis, and Michelle took time off from her current Broadway gig (Anything Goes with Sutton Foster; Michelle is pictured to the right, backstage with the beutiful women of Anything Goes, and onstage as Hope Harcourt) to come to Richmond with her husband for the event and some fall foliage hiking in the Virginia mountains. It will be WONDERFUL to see both of these talented women with us for all the fun!

Hope to see all of you at tomorrow's festivities! Good luck and congratulations to ALL nominees! Please remember, designated drivers can get their hands stamped and receive free sodas throughout the evening.

--Bruce Miller

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