Make time this holiday season for one of Truman Capote’s favorite short stories, brought to the stage.
Photo by Aaron Sutten
“Oh my! It’s fruit cake weather!”
Acclaimed author Truman Capote is probably best known for such works as “In Cold Blood” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” But Capote has been quoted as saying that his short stories were his favorite to write.
And Quill Theatre’s holiday production, Holiday Memories, is based on one of Capote’s favorites.
WHAT IT IS
Holiday Memories focuses on Capote’s childhood in Monroeville, Alabama, where he was sent to live with his mother’s relatives by his inattentive and often absent parents.
In Monroeville, young Truman, played by Henry Boyle, quickly forms a deep bond with the youngest of his elderly cousins, who he calls “Miss Sook,” played by Jody Smith Strickler.
The story is narrated by a grown Truman, played by Eddie Webster, and a fourth character, simply referred to as “Woman” in the program, played by the hilarious Maggie Bavolack.
Bavolack plays all of the supporting characters, most notably the family dog, Queenie.
I was told after the show, that the cast spent time with an actual dog on set so Bavolack could master Queenie’s mannerisms. And boy did she ever.
Every Christmas Miss Sook and Truman, who she calls “Buddy,” make 30 fruitcakes to handout to people who have made an impression on their lives that year. These recipients can range anywhere from the local bus driver to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Photo by Aaron Sutten
The plot of Holiday Memories revolves heavily around the acquisition of ingredients for the cakes.
Henry Boyle gives a magnificent performance as Buddy. His Alabama accent is particularly noteworthy, perfected with the help of dialect coach, Erica Hughes. He doesn’t miss a beat and absolutely masters Kaye Weinstein Gary’s choreography.
Eddie Webster is the anchor of this production, narrating the action as an older Truman.
Webster moves carefully around each scene and is very convincing. It is as if he is truly watching, and sometimes participating in, his own childhood memories.
Smith Strickler is positively endearing as Miss Sook. She expertly captures the wide-eyed, childlike, quality of her character and her scenes with Boyle are heartwarming.
The best word to describe this production is cool. The set, by Vinnie Gonzalez, is cool, the choreography is cool, the lighting, by Michael Jarrett, is cool, the costumes, by Ruth Hedberg, are cool; it’s just a super innovative and exciting production to watch.
Like many of Quills productions the use of props is minimal–which I have always enjoyed, because it encourages the audience to use their imagination.
WHERE IT IS
Holiday Memories is playing at Grace Street Theater, located smack dab in the middle of the VCU campus.
WHO’S BEHIND IT
The play is based on Truman Capote’s short story A Christmas Memory and adapted for the stage by Russell Vandenbroucke.
This production is directed by Jan Powell for Quill Theatre. And as the director’s notes point out, this show is the third installment of Quill’s unique adaptations of Christmas literature, following A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Mr. Dickens Christmas Carol.
This production features beautiful original music by composer Drew Perkins and CDs are available for purchase in the lobby of the theatre of you want to take home a memory from this charming production.
WHEN IT IS
Holiday Memories runs through December 26th, including Thursday shows and Sunday matinees.
HOW MUCH IT COSTS
Tickets run from children’s tickets, $15, to adult tickets, $30. Discounts for students and seniors.
OTHER THINGS TO NOTE
Parking can be challenging, but there are several lots near the theatre where you can pay to park.
The play is short and sweet; lasting only one hour with no intermission.
IF YOU DON’T GO DO THIS, YOU WILL…
Be missing out on an exciting and innovative production that will put anyone in the holiday spirit.