Virginia Premiere Theatre Announces Fall and Winter Production for 2007 at TNCC

Published: August 27, 2007

Virginia Premiere Theatre (VPT), the professional company in residence at The Kimball Theatre in Williamsburg and at the Dr. Mary T. Christian auditorium on the campus of Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, announces its upcoming season for the fall and winter of 2007.

In September, VPT will mount The K of D by Laura Schellhardt. The K of D is a supernatural thriller that tells the story of skinny Charlotte McGraw, a twelve year old girl from a small town in Ohio, whose twin, Jamie, was killed in an auto accident. With Jamie’s dying breath Charlotte inherits the Kiss of Death and exacts her revenge. The K of D was originally created at ACT Theatre, Seattle, WA. Subsequent development of The K of D was supported by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center during a residency at the National Playwrights Conference of 2006 and at the Kennedy Center. The K of D comes to Virginia Premiere Theatre for its first fully-staged production prior to its Washington DC premiere at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (winner of 16 Helen Hayes Awards). Mary Wadkins plays 17 characters from the ages of 12-70 in an evening of chilling, theatrical wizardry. Rebecca Taylor directs.

The K of D previews on September 11 in Williamsburg and opens at The Kimball Theatre on September 14 for nine performances. The production moves to TNCC on September 25 and runs through October 7 for 14 additional performances.

In November, VPT will mount the world premiere of Robert Ruffin’s stage adaptation of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi for the holiday season. This production will mark the first ever full-length stage adaptation of this great American classic. Set in the early 1900’s in Charlottesville, Virginia and Manhattan, the play follows the story of newlyweds Jim and Della Young who fell in love at the University of Virginia and moved to New York so Jim could pursue a law career. When they fall on hard times, they give up their most prized possessions in a selfless act of true love and devotion that speaks to the very nature of holiday giving. The production will be directed by Mark Lerman, former Artistic Director of the Perishable Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island and a current resident of Williamsburg.

The production opens at TNCC on November 24 and the Kimball Theatre on November 30 and runs through December 23 for 29 performances at both venues interchangeably.

Tickets go on sale beginning August 1. Prices are $9 for previews, $18 general admission, $16 students, seniors and military and $7 for kids 12 and under. For information and group rates call Toll Free 1-866-430-1630. Tickets may be purchased for Kimball Theatre performances by calling 1-800-HISTORY and for TNCC performances by calling 1-800-595-4TIX. Tickets for both venues are also available on the web at

All Hampton performances are free for staff, faculty and students of Thomas Nelson Community College with proper identification.

The Company

Founded in 2003, Virginia Premiere Theatre is a not-for-profit, professional theatre company in residence at the Kimball Theatre on the Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg and as of September 2007 the Mary T. Christian Auditorium on the Campus of Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton. Its mission is to enrich Virginia and bring national recognition to Virginia’s arts through the creation of new plays. To date VPT has presented eleven world premiere productions and brought to Virginia award-winning writers, Broadway directors and actors.

Laura Schellhardt, playwright, The K of D

Laura Schellhardt received her MFA in playwriting from Brown University under the direction of Paula Vogel. Prior to attending Brown, she headed the playwriting program at Northwestern University. Laura has participated in the new play series at The Goodman, Northlight Theatre and Trinity Repertory Company as a reader of new plays, an assistant director and a director of development. Original works include The K of D, Courting Vampires, Shapeshifter, Je Ne Sais Quoi, and Inheritance. Her adaptations include Creole Folktales, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick and The Outfit. Laura is a 2007 Jerome Playwriting Fellow, a recipient of the New Play Award from ACT in Seattle, a 2005 Dramatist Guild Playwriting Fellow, and she participated in the 2006 SoHo Rep. Writer/Director Lab. Her play The K of D was recently workshopped at both The Kennedy Center and the O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference and will be produced by Woolly Mammoth Theatre in 2008. Her play, The Chair, will receive a workshop at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence as part of the 2007-8 TCG Playwriting Residency. She is also the author of Screenwriting for Dummies. Laura has been on faculty at Brown University, University of Rhode Island, and The University of Central Florida. She currently teaches playwriting at Northwestern University.

Rebecca Taylor, director, The K of D

Ms. Taylor has worked in theater, film and television and specializes in developing new work. Her theatrical career includes such theaters as The Goodman, Missouri Repertory, Arena Stage, The Barter Theater, The Coconut Grove Playhouse and The Mark Taper Forum. Ms. Taylor directed the Broadway production starring Hal Linden and the original Off Broadway production starring Theodore Bikel, of Arje Shaw’s The Gathering. Most recently she directed Magic Hands Freddy (Off Broadway with Ralph Maccio) and Having Our Say at the Northeast Theatre. Other NYC directing credits include Strange Snow, Arthur Miller’s The American Clock, The Madwoman of Chaillot, I Never Saw Another Butterfly and A Man’s World, as well as the New York premiere of Caryl Churchill’s A Mouthful of Birds and the New York premiere of Miracles by Frank Higgins. For VPT at the Kimball Theater, Ms. Taylor has directed Joanna’s Husband and David’s Wife, A Woman of Independent Means, Winning Liberty Land and Smith! Being the Life and Death of Cap’n John. She has also directed for such New York theater companies as The Ensemble Studio Theater and The Metropolitan Playhouse of New York and is former Founder and Artistic Director of The Catskill Mountain Playhouse. Internationally she toured and directed with Theater Without Borders. Ms Taylor also worked for New Line Cinema on several feature films, was the acting coach for Malcolm Jamal Warner’s Here and Now and has taught acting at the world-renowned Michael Howard studio in New York.

Mary Wadkins, star, The K of D

Ms. Wadkins is co-founder and producing director of VPT and has performed extensively on stage in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco where she earned two nominations for outstanding performance of the year. For the past fourteen years, she has performed The Belle of Amherst across the country and in Europe and is currently featured in the Virginia Commission for the Arts Tour Directory. In New York, she has performed clown on stage with the all-female troupe “Those in the Nose.” Wadkins studied ballet and pointe for many years at New York’s world-renowned dance studio “Steps” where Kathryn Sullivan choreographed two performance pieces specifically for her. Her film credits include principal roles in independent films On Avalon, Cruthers and American Blue Note and she appeared in several Woody Allen films as well as George Lucas’ Ewok Adventure. Wadkins has performed in a number of Virginia Premiere Theatre’s world-premieres, including Pen Pals, The Waiting Room and A Woman of Independent Means having recently revived the role at the Northeast Theatre in Scranton, PA. Ms. Wadkins is a member of Actors Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists.

Robert Ruffin, playwright, The Gift of the Magi

Robert Ruffin is co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of Virginia Premiere Theatre. He has written five plays produced on the New York stage, and authored two one-man shows that he currently tours in Virginia. For America’s 400th Anniversary, he wrote Ba-baaah and the Windigo that toured the East Coast with the Godspeed Sail, We Salute You 1781: An American Symphony for Yorktown’s 225th Victory Celebration, Visions of Democracy for Jamestown’s Grand 400th Weekend Celebration and assisted in scripting the television special America’s 400th Anniversary that was shown on 56 CBS affiliates nationwide. He collaborated on Gloucester County Encounters in History, a recently released documentary, co-authored A Chesapeake Celebration (published by San Francisco Bay Press) and wrote Winning Liberty Land which was commissioned in 2006 by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. As a producer and dramaturge, Robert has guided the development of dozens of new plays to New York stages On, Off and Off-Off Broadway. He is a founder and former Artistic Director of The Metropolitan Playhouse of New York, has taught in numerous universities throughout the east coast and was honored by the Kennedy Center for Meritorious Achievement. Robert is a member of The Dramatist Guild of America and Actors Equity Association.

Mark Lerman, director, The Gift of the Magi

Mark Lerman served as the Artistic Director at The Perishable Theatre in Providence, RI from 1990 to 2005. During his tenure, The Perishable Theatre was at the forefront of introducing new voices to the American Theatre, and became nationally recognized as an incubator for the development of new plays. At Perishable, Mark produced and/or presented over 140 productions. This body of work ranged from new plays to classics and included performance art, puppetry and dance. Mark brought Perishable Theatre’s world premiere production of Only In America to both the Ensemble Studio Theatre in NYC and the National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina, and directed the 1999 production of A Christmas Carol at the Trinity Repertory Company. The Mayor of Providence proclaimed June 20, 2005 “Mark J. Lerman” day and presented Mark the Key to the City. Mark has served on grant panels for Theater Communications Group, The New England Foundation for the Arts, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. He was a board member of both the National New Play Network and Rhode Island Citizens for the Arts, as well as a member of the Steering Committee for the Arts and Business Council of RI. Mark has taught at The Rhode Island School of Design and has served as guest dramaturge for the Brown University Graduate Playwriting program. Mark moved to Williamsburg, VA in the summer of 2005, where his wife is on the faculty of the College of William and Mary.

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