Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sex, Secrets, and Lies--It's All in the Family with Birmingham Festival Theatre's production of Becky Shaw.

Mel Christian directs the third show of BFT's 40th Anniversary Season

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Jan 2, 2011 - Smart, sordid comedy takes the stage at Birmingham Festival Theatre for the third production of their landmark 40th anniversary season. Becky Shaw is a standout in this season: every other play on the 2011-2012 slate has been chosen to honor and celebrate their prior productions during BFT's 40-year history, but this production of Gina Gionfriddo's comedy marks another local premiere, fulfilling BFT's mission to bring new theatrical works to the Birmingham audiences.

The setting is contemporary, the writing is sharp, and the characters are richly comic, dynamic, and dysfunctional. There's Suzanna, the mid-thirties psych student who embraces denial; Max, her financially brilliant but emotionally inept adoptive brother--with boundary issues; Andrew, Suzanna's impetuously-chosen husband, a would-be author with a savior complex; Susan, the domineering matriarch with multiple sclerosis and a decades-younger boyfriend; and the enigmatic, eponymous Becky Shaw, the friendless, family-less, moneyless office temp who extracts exactly what she wants from each of them in turn. Director Mel Christian calls the play "a deftly-plotted comedy of bad manners that promises to entertain, even if you're not exactly certain who to root for!"

Commissioned by the renowned regional Actors Theatre of Louisville, the play had its world premiere at their 2008 Humana Festival of New Plays before receiving a Pulitzer Prize nomination and enjoying a smash Off-Broadway run. Christian has put together a strong cast to bring Becky Shaw to life, including BFT veterans Holly Croney Dikeman (Quilters) in the title role, Annalisa Keuler Crews (Talking With...) as Suzanna, Pam Elder (Tobacco Road) as Susan, and Hal Word (The Great Wrong Way) as Max; Criss Moriss, no stranger to the Birmingham-area stage, makes his BFT debut in the role of Andrew.

Birmingham Festival Theatre prides itself on being the oldest continually-operating community theatre in the metro area. Come celebrate the newest contribution to BFT's legacy when Becky Shaw opens on Thursday, January 12, with a special opening night reception following the performance. The show will run for three weekends on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8 pm through January 28, with one matinee performance on Sunday, January 22 at 2 pm. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students or groups of ten or more, except for BFT's Pay What You Can Afford night on January 19 with a $7 minimum.

Tickets may be reserved by phone at (205) 933-2383. For more information, go to

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Auditions for BFT’s production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever

Noel Coward's Hay Fever directed by Ellise Mayor runs April 19 - May 5, 2012, at Birmingham Festival Theatre.

Auditions will be held on Saturday December 3, 2011, from 10 am until noon at the theatre.

Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. This production is a stylized piece and calls for British dialects. No preparation is required.

We are looking for male and female actors with a strong British dialect.

Actors of both sexes, ages 20-65 are needed.

Rehearsals will begin in March 2012.

If you would like to audition but cannot attend the December 3 session, please contact the director at

Holiday shopping made easy

Need a gift that really does keep on giving? Give the Gift of Live Theatre! BFT offers four tickets for the price of three—that's an $80 value for $60. The tickets are good in any combination for the remaining shows in the 2011-2012 season:

  • Becky Shaw (January 12–28, 2012)
  • Holy Ghosts (March 1-17)
  • Hay Fever (April 19–May 5)
  • The Last Hotel for Women (June 14–30)

Visit to buy online or download an order form!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our 40th Anniversary Season is Packed with Entertainment!

Five favorites from seasons past, and one show that's new to BFT.

SEASON TICKETS are still a great bargain at $99, and now you can buy online!
SEASON AUDITIONS are the way to go if you want to be on stage!

September 15-October 1, 2011
Written by Jason Miller
Directed by Jonathan Goldstein

Five men who won the Pennsylvania state high school basketball championship 20 years ago get together for a reunion at the coach's house. It begins as a happy occasion, but the tensions among them have grown over time. What's happened to the "dream team" after all these years? Who's to blame for the way their lives have turned out? Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1973, this play was originally brought to the BFT stage in 1979 to great acclaim.

November 3–19, 2011
Written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek,
lyrics and music by Barbara Damashek
Directed by Sandra Taylor

A series of short tales matched with musical numbers, the stories in Quilters present aspects of womanhood in frontier life—girlhood, marriage, childbirth, spinsterhood, twisters, fire, illness, and death. Each woman’s story unfolds, literally, from a piece of quilting work whose design reflects her experiences. By the play’s end, these story panels combine to make one huge quilt that the characters raise high as the flag of pioneer womanhood. Nominated for six Tony Awards in 1984, this production was first performed at BFT in 1987, directed by Sandra Taylor.

January 12–28, 2012
Written by Gina Gionfriddo
Directed by Mel Christian

In Becky Shaw, a newlywed couple fixes up two romantically challenged people: wife's best friend, meet husband's sexy and strange new co-worker. When an evening calculated to bring happiness takes a dark turn, crisis and comedy ensue. Gina Gionfriddo’s comedy of bad manners, a tangled tale of love, sex and ethics among a quartet of men and women in their 30s, is as engrossing as it is ferociously funny, like a big box of fireworks fizzing and crackling across the stage from its first moments to its last. Penned by one of the writers for TV’s Law and Order, Becky Shaw is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated new play, in keeping with our continuing effort to bring new theatre to Birmingham!

March 1-17, 2012
Written by Romulus Linney
Directed by Bethe Ensey

Romulus Linney writes a moving and funny account of unsophisticated people in moral and emotional crisis in the Deep South. Nancy Shedman, in an effort to escape the drunken attentions of her husband Coleman, has moved in with a band of Pentecostal snake handlers and fallen in love with their leader, Rev. Obediah Buckhorn. The play blends humor and poignancy as it probes into the circumstances and stories of the various cult members. What happens when Coleman comes to claim his wife? In 1976, BFT was one of the first theatres in the country to stage the play. The Birmingham press hailed Linney as an author to be reckoned with "by every imaginable measuring stick” and the play as "an American gem cut out of the spirit of the mountain people—funny and deeply moving."

April 19–May 5, 2012
Written by Noel Coward
Directed by Ellise Mayor

No Anniversary Season would be complete without a good old-fashioned comedy! And Hay Fever fits the bill. Set in an English country house in the 1920s, the play features the four eccentric members of the Bliss family. Real Housewives of New Jersey has nothing on the over the top antics of the Bliss family and their weekend guests. This early Coward comedy is nothing to sneeze at! "It does not date… it is in the highest mood of fantastic comedy, it is deliciously heartless and therefore deliciously alive and fresh" -The Times. This play was first performed at BFT in 1980.

June 14–30, 2012
Written by Randy Marsh
Directed by Edward C. Miller

The novel by Vicki Covington was adapted for the stage by her brother Randy Marsh, a playwright and founding member of BFT. Set in Birmingham in 1961, when Freedom Riders were passing through the Deep South, the production centers around a hotel run by Dinah Fraley and her husband. They are visited frequently by the Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety, Sheriff Bull Connor, a known racist and bigot. Racial tensions run high in this powerful drama that was originally staged in 1996, and closes out our 40th Anniversary Season.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011-2012 Season Auditions

Birmingham Festival Theatre (BFT) announces its combined audition for the 2011-2012 season. Adult and teen-aged actors of all ages and ethnicities are encouraged to attend.

Actors will have up to 3 minutes to offer a single or 2 contrasting monologues. An additional few minutes will be available for directors' questions. Please bring 6 copies of your resume and a head shot (if available).

This is a great opportunity to be seen by 6 different directors and audition for 6 shows at the same time. You may be called back at another time to read again for one or more specific shows. BFT´s intention for these auditions is to reach further into our community to find the talent we need for our exciting new 40th Anniversary season. You will have an opportunity to let us know which shows you are interested in specifically, but you will be considered for everything that is appropriate for you. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come – even if we´ve seen you before!

When: Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26, 2011
Saturday: Sign in from 9:00 AM until 11:00 AM
Sunday: Sign in from 2:00 PM until 4:00 PM
Actors will audition in the order in which they sign in. Everyone signed in by the end of the sign-in period will have the opportunity to audition.

Place: Birmingham Festival Theatre, 1901½ 11th Avenue South (above the Golden Temple in 5 Points South)

Questions: edward[at]

BFT 2011-2012 Season

That Championship Season
Cast: 5 men
Production Dates: Sept 15 – Oct 1, 2011
The role of the coach is cast; remaining 4 men should be in their 30s or 40s

7 women
Nov 3 – 19, 2011
*For those auditioning for our musical, Quilters, please be prepared to sing a cappella a minimum of 16 bars of a song that is more of a folk song than a Broadway-style show tune.

Becky Shaw
2 men, 3 women
Jan 12 – 28, 2012
The roles of Becky, Suzanne, and Max are cast; remaining roles are one man 20s–30s, one woman 50s–60s.

Holy Ghosts
10 men, 5 women
Mar 1 – 17, 2012

Hay Fever
4 men, 5 women
Apr 19 – May 5, 2012

The Last Hotel for Women
4 men, 3 women, 1 male teenager, 1 female teenager
June 14 – 30 , 2012

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Batter Up! Baseball Great Ty Cobb Comes to the Stage in Cobb

Birmingham Festival Theatre Will Host the Good and the Bad of Ty Cobb

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – June 2, 2011 – In order to grasp the full picture of a man, you should experience him at different stages of his life. That´s what Lee Blessing has done in Cobb, beginning June 9, 2011 at Birmingham Festival Theatre. Three actors will help bring the one persona of Ty Cobb to the stage, in one uninterrupted 90-minute stage production.

Don Sandley is directing Cobb, and brings his love of the game to the BFT stage. “Ty Cobb played the game like it was a barroom brawl. It could be argued that Cobb played with such ferocity that he took all the leisure out of the game. What cannot be argued is that he changed the game forever. He made it a truly professional sport. I hope you enjoy getting to know one of the most iconic sports figures our country has ever produced. I suspect you will agree, that not so much has changed after all. Heroes have always been flawed.’

Actors bringing Cobb to life are: James Kitchens (young Ty Cobb “The Peach’), James Ward (mid-life Ty Cobb “Ty’), and John Falkenberry (elder Ty Cobb “Mr. Cobb’). Brandon McCray will play the role of Oscar Charleston, a fellow ballplayer.

Cobb runs each Thursday, Friday and Saturday for three weeks at 8:00 p.m. beginning on June 9, 2011 with a matinee on Sunday, June 19, at 2:30 p.m. The show closes on June 25, 2011. Tickets are $20, $15 for students. For reservations, call the theatre at (205) 933-2383.

Pictured in attached photo are (from L to R): James Kitchens, John Falkenberry and Brandon McCray.

About Birmingham Festival Theatre
BFT is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. For almost 40 years, BFT has been bringing local audiences theatrical experiences that touch the heart and stir the mind. Our all-volunteer Board of Directors works to involve the community´s many talented directors, actors, designers and techies to produce the best in contemporary and classic theatre. For more information, go to

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Cobb" cast announced

The Peach - James Kitchens
Ty - James Ward
Mr. Cobb - John Falkenberry
Oscar - Branden McCray

COBB, by Lee Blessing
BFT production directed by Don Sandley
June 9-25, 2011 — Thursday-Saturday @8PM and Sunday, June 19 @2:30PM

Blessing brings the legendary Ty Cobb to life as record-breaking statistics, infamous temper, fierce competitiveness, and personal triumphs are portrayed in flashback memories of the aging and (to hear him tell it) unappreciated superstar. "They" say we need heroes, and likely we do. But come see what one of those heroes has to say about "them."