Sunday, November 19, 2006

HRT Cancels 2007 Season

The shortcomings of the Daily Progress web site became clear again to me as I searched and searched for an article I read in Saturday's print edition, to no avail.

Local entertainment correspondent Jane Dunlap Morris reports that the Heritage Repertory Theatre, the decades-old summer stock company at the University of Virginia, has decided to cancel its 2007 season, because construction near the Drama Department's building will make it difficult for patrons to attend performances.

In the article, which appears on page B7, inside the sports section, cites the assistant business manager of the UVa Department of Drama, James Scales, as explaining that

construction of UVa's nearby studio art building and a new parking garage that's slated to accommodate 478 cars will overlap, creating headaches for Heritage patrons, hunting for parking spaces.

After looking for alternatives, officials decided to go dark for the 2007 season, [Scales] said.

"Our plan had been to shuttle folks from the Ivy-Emmet Garage," Scales said.

They learned that shuttle buses would be able to bring theatergoers only as far as Beta Bridge on Rugby Road, and patrons would have to walk up Culbreth Road to the theaters, which could be difficult for disabled or elderly guests and inconvenient for everyone, Scales said.
The Heritage Rep is a real treasure, and even a temporary absence is a loss to Charlottesville's community of culture. While some might say it sticks to the tried-and-true, its ambitious (and emotionally moving) production of Sunday in the Park with George in the Culbreth this year more than made up for Nunsense and Don't Hug Me in the Helms.

Perhaps the HRT's decision will serve as an incentive for Live Arts to expand its Summer Theatre Festival, which shrank last year, and for Ash Lawn-Highland to add more offerings to its summer opera festival -- perhaps even staging a genuine opera next year, instead of ill-suited, dance-oriented musical plays (this past summer's West Side Story) and operettas (2006's The Merry Widow).

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