Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend at BFT

Family, shopping, football, and... Vulcan's Underpants!

Advance Admission is NOW AVAILABLE for
November 26 & 27, 2010 at 7:00 and 9:00 each night!

Advance Admission: $8* (regularly $12)
Walk-Up Admission: $10 (cash/check only) at the door (regularly $15)
No discounts on Walk-Up Admission - Buy in advance and $AVE!
Purchase from the ETC Bham online Box Office or
call (205) 687-5233.

*plus 75¢ online processing fee

Visit the ETC Bham web site for details and tickets.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Simplify your holiday shopping: Give the gift of Live Theatre at BFT

4 ticket vouchers for the price of 3 — That's an $80 value for $60!

Order forms available through November 20 at the theatre during the run of LOBBY HERO, and online at

Benefits of a BFT gift-of-live-theatre package:

To the giftor:

  • You can share your gift with your giftee when it's used; not just when it's opened. Join them in attending BFT performances. Have a meal before the show and enjoy each other's company. Have a dessert after the show and discuss what you've seen.

  • You can introduce those about whom you care to an activity about which you care.

  • You can support truly local arts in general and BFT in particular. Your gift purchase will help us continue our work for you and your giftee.

  • It's not quite the bargain your season tickets are, but 4 for the price of 3 isn't too shabby a buy.

To the giftee:

  • One size fits all. With five shows left in the season (four during 201 I), your giftee can choose which might appeal most to them. And, as you know, we'll do our best to accommodate any special seating needs they may have.

  • Time-tested technology. For almost 5,000 years, live actors have been speaking words to live audiences. Theatre is version 2.0 of storytelling which has been popular since language came into existence.

  • It's 3-D! And no special glasses or equipment are needed for your complete immersion in an apparently real, three dimensional world. How's that for slick technology? And, you don't look silly enjoylng it.

  • It's always fresh. Each time you see a production (or a performance within a production) it's different. No two are ever exactly the same. It's the difference between that chest your daddy made for you and one you buy at Wal-Mart.

  • No calories. Visit the Fred Jones Bakery and gain no weight. See a show in the kitchen (the original use of the theatre space) and socialize on the loading dock (the original use of the lobby).

  • The gift coupons are fully transferable. So, they're regiftable. Not like your frequent flyer miles or the monogrammed pajamas.

  • It's easy to pay attention. No one will be placing or receiving phone calls during the performance (except, maybe, on stage). No one sitting by you will be texting their friends.

  • It's very personal. No performance space in Birmingham is so intimate and unique. The lobby and restrooms you've come to know and love have undergone a facelift. It's an even more one-of-a-kind venue.

  • BFT is in Five Points South. Five Points is home to some of Birmingham's (and the country's) finest restaurants and watering holes. And you can enjoy your pre-show meal, your theatre performance, and your après theatre treat without getting in your car between activities. It's almost like you live in a city.

  • It's fun to tell others about one of your chosen local pleasures. And they'll be able to tell their friends and co-workers about their newest discovery of a woefully undiscovered Birmingham treasure (and who introduced it to them).

Order forms available through November 20 at the theatre during the run of LOBBY HERO, and online at

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lobby Hero: Maggie Ballard (Dawn)

Maggie Ballard (Dawn) is so happy to be doing another show at BFT. She was last seen at BFT as "Ellie May” in Tobacco Road. She has appeared in South City Theatre's Tom Sawyer as "Widow Douglas" as well as South City Theatre's Short Play Festivals, The Bachelor and The Darkest Night. She won Open Mic Night for standup comedy at the Stardome Comedy Club. She was also "Laurie" in the feature film Lifted.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Lobby Hero: Douglas O'Neil, Jr. (Bill)

Douglas O’Neil, Jr. (Bill), a proud native of Birmingham, has been performing professionally in Alabama for over a decade. BFT audiences may remember him as John in The Cocktail Hour, and as Mitch Albom in the smash hit Tuesdays with Morrie, which went on to be named in Alec Harvey’s “The best of Birmingham theater in 2008” for The Birmingham News. While Douglas is adept at drama, he’s best known for his hilarious hijinx with the Extemporaneous Theatre Company (, Birmingham’s only professional improvisational theatre company, which Douglas founded in 2008. ETC was named a runnerup for Best Theatre Company 2010 in Birmingham Magazine’s annual “Best of Birmingham” feature, a finalist for Best Live Theatre in the 2009 Birmingham News “Birmingham’s Best” readers’ poll, and recently appeared alongside improv companies from New York, Chicago, and San Francisco at the 2010 Black Box Comedy Festival.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lobby Hero: Don Cano (William)

Don Cano (William) is thrilled to be returning to the stage after a long hiatus and is excited to be making his debut at BFT. He has trained at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC as well as The Professional Actors Studio in Atlanta. Don is active in regional independent film and can be seen in local, regional, and national commercials. He can also be seen in this season's BFT production of Anna in the Tropics later this spring.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lobby Hero: Jonathan Hinnen (Jeff)

Jonathan Hinnen (Jeff) is ecstatic to be on stage at BFT. A soon-to-be graduate of the University of Alabama with a BA in Theatre, he has appeared in shows in Alabama and Georgia. Favorite credits include Measure for Measure as Elbow the Constable with The Rude Mechanicals of Tuscaloosa, Equus with Theatre Downtown as a Horse, The Time of Your Life with the University of Alabama Department of Theatre and Dance as Cop #1, and The King and I with LaGrange Lyric Theatre in LaGrange, GA.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Talking With... Chris Lawson

Chris Lawson (Director) last appeared at BFT as Martin in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (1995-1996). He has acted in and/or directed over 100 plays, films, documentaries, and music videos. He is also a regional, national, and international visual artist with recent exhibitions in Cambodia, Haiti, NYC, and at the Corcoran’s White Walls Gallery in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BFT and Monty Stabler Galleries featured artist: Bethanne Hill

The Haden Gaines Marsh Gallery in the lobby of BFT features works from Monty Stabler Galleries for the production run of Jane Martin's Talking With..., directed by Chris Lawson. Five paintings by Bethanne Hill are on display.

Bethanne Hill was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on October 12, 1966. She was raised in Birmingham, the youngest of 6 children. She is a 1985 graduate of the visual arts department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and holds a BFA in painting and sculpture from Birmingham-Southern College.... Bethanne and her husband Darius Hill (also an artist and Chair of the Art Department at the Alabama School of Fine Arts) and their children live in Birmingham. (Excerpt from "Artist's Bio 2004")

"As a young artist, my first great influence was primitive art, specifically Australian Aboriginal art. The bold outlines, patterns and simplified shapes seemed to me to directly convey the power of the animals depicted. Their energy was there to see. Often, in what is called “x-ray style”, the Aboriginal artist will show the insides of the animals, as well. Their way of filling every inch of the format with mark-making was very appealing to me. As I read through Joseph Campbell’s The Way of the Animal Powers and Sir James George Frazier’s The Golden Bough, the imagery leaped out at me." (Excerpt from "Artist's Statement," by Bethanne Bethard Hill)

You can find Bethanne's work at Bethanne Hill—Painting & Illustration on the web and on Facebook.

Monty Stabler Galleries is also on the web and on Facebook. Christine Alfery is featured in the current show at the galleries, located at 1811 29th Avenue South: (205) 879-9888.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Talking With... Susan Johnson Lawrence

Susan Johnson Lawrence (Marks) did her first show at BFT, Counter-Culture, in 1979, directed by Carl Stewart. She is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College where she studied with Arnold Powell. Mrs. Lawrence lived in Philadelphia for seven years before going to NYC to study Shakespeare with Uta Hagen. She left NYC for Aspen and came home to Birmingham in 1997. Then her life began for real with kids and a mortgage. In 2000 she directed Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde here at BFT. Other roles have included Rita in Educating Rita and Agnes in I Do, I Do at Aspen Theatre in the park, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Chestnut Hill Shakespeare, Desiree in A Little Night Music at Town and Gown, and Amanda in Private Lives at the Alys Stephens Center.

Talking With... Holly Croney Dikeman

Holly Croney Dikeman (Handler) was last seen on the BFT stage as Cherie in Bus Stop, and is glad to be back. Previous BFT credits include The Great Wrong Way and Miss Witherspoon. She was recently in the Theatre LJCC production of The Will Rogers Follies (Betty), and was also in The Spitfire Grill (Effie), The Who’s Tommy, and Lots of Life (Doreen) at the LJCC. Favorite roles include Alice in Alice’s Even Bigger Tea Party at the Alys Stephens Center; Missy in Winter Wonderettes and Maria in El Grande de Coca Cola, both at the Terrific New Theatre; and Cinderella’s stepsister, which she played once in Cinderella, and once in Into the Woods, both at Virginia Samford Theatre.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Talking With... Adriana Keathley

Adriana Keathley (French Fries) is so glad to be back on the BFT boards. Born and raised in Miami, she received her dance training there before becoming the lead dancer with the Miami Ballet. After moving to New York, she performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and danced and acted on Broadway in Camelot and Ballroom. Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway credits include Uneasy Lies and The House of Bernada Alba at the Roundabout Theatre. In regional theatre, she’s performed in Ballroom, Pack of Lies, A Perfect Ganesh, and The Desert Song. She appeared in The Oldest Profession, The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, and Kindertransport at Birmingham Festival Theatre and played Thelma in ‘night, Mother at Theatre Downtown. Adriana was last seen as Martha in The Octette Bridge Club at the South City Theatre. Adriana also tours with The Seasoned Performers, Alabama’s only senior adult theatre. She teaches ballet at the Pointe Dance Arts. Adriana dedicates her performance to her oldest brother, George Keathley, the Emmy Award-winning director.

Talking With... Mindy K. Wester

Mindy K. Wester (Dragons) is thrilled to be back on stage again after a 6-year hiatus which allowed her to glean some real world inspiration for her work in this production. She was formerly seen on the BFT stage in Angels in America Part One, The Country Club, and Tom Jones. Her design credits here are into double digits.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Talking With.... Jane Trechsel

Jane Trechsel (Lamps) did “Lamps” 25 years ago here at BFT: “It’s always great to get a second chance at anything. And now I’m age appropriate!” This is her first time back on stage since the final run of The Belle of Amherst in 2002. Other roles here include Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Desiree in A Little Night Music, Cole Porter and Noel Coward revues with Carl Stewart (yes singing and dancing!) Her training? On the job.

Talking With... Ginny S. Loggins

Ginny S. Loggins (Clear Glass Marbles) is thrilled to be returning to the BFT stage for the umpteenth time, and returning to one of her favorite plays. In 1985 she played the Handler at Studio Theatre on Long Island. This is apparently her year to return to old shows in new roles: in February she played Hesther in Equus at Theatre Downtown, having played Jill in 1979; and in March, she played Glinda in the ASC’s version of The Wizard of Oz titled Down the Yellow Brick Road, having played Dorothy in the fourth grade. On February 3, 2011, she’ll be reprising her role as feisty civil rights activist Virginia Durr in Lee Shackleford’s monodrama Too Many Questions at Vulcan Park and Museum.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Talking With... Penny Thomas

Penny Thomas (Rodeo) has worked on several interesting projects with Chris Lawson over the years, including a short film about Big Foot and a performance art piece that involved dancing with wild abandon on top of a refrigerator to looped footage of atomic explosions and children's songs. Penny most recently appeared in After School Special at Theatre Downtown. She has also performed in Theatre Downtown's productions of Equus and We Three Queens, and in Terrific New Theatre's productions of Dixie Swim Club, El Grande de Coca Cola, The Glass Mendacity and Sordid Lives. She will be appearing in the short film "Brunch" this year at the Sidewalk Film Festival.

Talking With... Camille Spratling

Camille Spratling (Audition) is delighted to be a part of Talking With.... This is her third production at BFT, having also played Hermia in Dead Man’s Cell Phone and Grace in Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. Other favorite roles include Rosemary in MBHS’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Madame Pernelle in BSC’s Tartuffe.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Talking With... Caroline Page

Caroline Page (Twirler) is a senior at Shades Valley High School. She was last seen at BFT as Mary Tilford in The Children's Hour. Recent credits include Mother in Ragtime at VST, Eponine in Les Miserables at VST, Charlotte Hay in Moon Over Buffalo Shades Valley Theatre Academy. Regional credits include Disney's Beauty and the Beast at Theatre of the Stars Atlanta, The Music Man at TOTS Atlanta and Theatre Under the Stars Houston, Doc Marsh in Cry Havoc and Kelsi in World Premiere Disney's High School Musical, both at Stagedoor Manor NY.

Talking With... Annalisa Crews

Annalisa Crews (Scraps) is a library media specialist at Homewood High School when not in Oz. After beginning her love of theatre in high school, Annalisa continued to perform at the University of Alabama and The University of Montevallo. For the past four years she has been active in Birmingham community theatre. Some of her favorite roles include Joanie in Little Footsteps, the Stepmother in Into the Woods, Frenchie in Cabaret. This is her first role at BFT.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Talking With... Ellise Mayor

Ellise Mayor (15 Minutes) made her acting debut at BFT as Tillie in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds directed by Vic Fichtner in 1974. Since then she has appeared in or directed over a dozen shows here. Most recently she had the great pleasure of directing Almost, Maine. During the daytime she is Artistic Director of The Seasoned Performers, Alabama’s only Senior Adult theatre company.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It may seem easier to give in, but don't give a hand-out.

Most of us who live, work, or go to events in Southside or Downtown Birmingham have heard the lines: "Spare some change for something to eat?" "I need [x] dollars to get to Bessemer." "My wife's just out of the hospital and we need to get home to Nashville."

The people who use these lines are panhandlers, and they're not simply annoying you. Many of them are breaking the law. A 1996 Birmingham City Ordinance makes aggressive panhandling a crime.

Furthermore, as if you didn't know, these people are usually lying. Maybe you tell yourself that they're lying because they don't want to say outright that they're homeless. But in truth, they're probably not homeless.

According to Michael Calvert, president of Operation New Birmingham (ONB), "Most panhandlers are not homeless and most homeless are not panhandlers." (Begging in downtown Birmingham might get tougher [08/30/10]).

The sad truth is that many panhandlers are seeking money to support an addiction to alcohol or other drugs. If we give in to the "easy fix" of handing them even a little money, we may perpetuate their problems instead of working on a solution.

You don't need to be mean about your refusal. You can say "No" and keep walking. If you also say "I don't carry change," you may discourage other beggars nearby, too. And, of course, you don't have to say anything.

These statements and tactics may seem harsh to the Southerner who wants to be polite and helpful. They're not.

The good news is that you can help people in need without giving in to panhandlers. It's actually fairly easy.

Several legitimate charitable organizations provide support for those in need in the Birmingham area, including
First Light
Jessie’s Place/Jimmie Hale Mission
The Old Firehouse Shelter, and
Birmingham Salvation Army.

Community support programs are also run by many Birmingham churches. In the 5 Points area, outreach programs exist at
Southside Baptist Church
Highlands United Methodist Church
St. Mary's on the Highlands Episcopal Church
Similar programs exist at many other local churches.

A donation of time or money to one of these organizations or churches can help people with genuine needs.

If you've been approached by a panhandler and want to take a more aggressive stance, call City Action Partnership (CAP) at 251-0111 to report the incident. Your call may help someone get the help they really need.

Birmingham Festival Theatre (BFT) supports the efforts of ONB, CAP, and local officials to discourage illegal panhandling in our community. For more information about the city's efforts to help those in need and combat the crime of panhandling, visit or

As always, BFT appreciates the support of local theatre-goers. We believe that spirit of support and loyalty can be extended even further into the community if they, too, support the city's efforts in this cause.

Lee Griner
Secretary, Birmingham Festival Theatre

Monday, August 16, 2010

Who is playwright Jane Martin?

There's some question about the identity of the playwright behind "Talking With...," the first show of BFT's 2010-2011 season. Whether it's by a woman, a man, something in between, one person, two persons ... WHATEVER! ... the point is that the 11 women comprised by these monologues are extraordinarily entertaining.

For more on the controversy, see
University of Washington's Columns or
Hartnell College's Western Stage

For a list of all of Martin's plays—and there are lots of them—see the entry in Playwright's Database.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Production Note: Justin Wallace (Crew)

Justin Wallace (Sound Design) is a sound designer, performer, and student from Birmingham, AL. He works with the Birmingham Festival Theatre by providing sound design for numerous productions. As a performer, he regularly performs around Birmingham with several groups and other outfits as a musician for hire. At UAB, Justin is a Music Technology major and is a regular member of the Percussion Ensemble and the Computer Music Ensemble. He is also a company artist for the Sanspointe Dance Company.

Production Note: Sufia Butt (Crew)

Sufia Butt (Stage Manager) is glad to be back at BFT stage managing another show. Sufia is a senior at Birmingham-Southern College studying theatre and photgraphy.

Production Note: Janelle Cochrane (Director)

Janelle Cochrane (Director) has acted and directed in regional theatre throughout the country for many years with long stints at Flat Rock Playhouse, the State Theatre of North Carolina. Some of her favorite directing stints include No Time for Sergeants, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Rumors, Morning’s At Seven, Foxfire and, of course, Fuddy Meers and Rabbit Hole at BFT. And then there’s all those many silly farces. Among her favorite roles as an actress are Eliza in Look Homeward Angel and Big Mama in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Production Note: Jack Heidt (Cast)

Jack Heidt (George Payne) is glad to be back at BFT, where he performed in his first play in Birmingham (Tom Jones). Since then he has appeared with most theatre companies in Birmingham. Favorite roles include Friar Laurence (Romeo and Juliet)—or as he says Juliet and the Friar—also, Paul Sheldon (Misery), Don Pedro (Much Ado about Nothing), Uncle Freddie (Bent), and Bob Ewell (To Kill a Mockingbird).

Production Note: Bates Redwine (Cast)

Bates Redwine (Captain Tim) was surprised and delighted to be cast in this, his second BFT production. Bates appeared earlier this season in The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. He is enjoying using his native Georgia accent this time. Other Birmingham roles have included Balthasar in Much Ado About Nothing, Dr. Hyman in Broken Glass, and Ensemble in The Who’s Tommy. After living near Tobacco Road for several years, Bates feels right at home in this production.

Production Note: Sarah Virginia Brock (Cast)

Sarah Virginia Brock (Pearl) is very excited to be doing her first play at BFT! Sarah is a film actress and has been very involved in the Alabama film community. She's done 17 movies, and you can find her profile on She's also done 5 plays in the Birmingham theater community and hopes to keep growing as an actress as the years go by.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Production Note: Mel Christian (Cast)

Mel (Melissa) Christian (Sister Bessie Rice) is Program Manager for Theatre UAB, where she is in charge of grants, special events, and their statewide touring program. Mel also serves as secretary on the board for City Equity Theatre. She is a native of Northport, AL and holds an MFA in Drama and Communications from the University of New Orleans. Most recently, Mel directed Twelve Angry Men and appeared as Dora Strang in Equus for Theatre Downtown. On the BFT stage, she was Evelyn in Kindertransport and Grace in Bus Stop. This January she will direct for BFT one of her favorite plays, the hilarious British farce Loot, by Joe Orton.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Production Note: William Brisky (Cast)

William Brisky (Henry Peabody) has worked at BFT as stage manager for Dead Man's Cell Phone and Almost, Maine, but this is his first time on the stage at BFT. His last time on stage was at the Levite Jewish Community Center as Stanton Case in Broken Glass. William has been involved in local theatre for around 10 years. He tells everyone that theatre keeps him sane, and that he has found his second home at BFT. William will be stage managing for Talking With..., the next play at BFT.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Production Note: Dane Albright (Cast)

Dane Albright (Lov Bensey) is excited to be cast in his first production at BFT. His other roles include Felix in The Odd Couple at South City Theatre, John in The Cocktail Hour at Montevallo, and Wardell in Sordid Lives at Terrific New Theatre, among others. He also co-starred as Witness #2 in the award-winning short film High Expectations.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Production Note: Sally Montgomery (Cast)

Sally Montgomery (Grandma Lester) is returning to BFT for a second time. She was last seen at BFT as Mrs. Whitefield, the innkeeper, in Tom Jones. She has performed at South City Theatre in Octette Bridge Club, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Christmas Belles, To Kill A Mockingbird, Steel Magnolias, and Arsenic and Old Lace. She has also appeared at Theatre Downtown in The Crucible and We Three Queens. She performed in Music Man at Leeds Arts Council and in Mornings at Seven at Arts Council Theater Academy (ACTA) in Trussville.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sarah Green to play preshow music

Check the Sarah Green band web site for samples!

Sarah Green is a talented singer, songwriter, and band-leader who grew up singing in church and with her family in Blountsville, Alabama. After relocating to Birmingham to study music theory, vocal performance, and opera at the University of Alabama, she soon became a regular on the nightclub and music hall circuit. Sarah commands attentive audiences with her dynamic voice.

Her performances are made up of a mix of traditional acoustic Appalachian songs, original folk-country compositions, and hard rockin' sets of electric American roots music. She also stays busy working with many of the region's other popular acts including Chris Porter and the Stolen Roses, The Back Row Baptists and her other project Sarah Green and the Sunday Lovers (Jazz).

With ongoing songwriting, the recording of her debut album, a new album with The Back Row Baptists (a second EP coming soon), and a busy local performance schedule, Sarah is in rare form to take her music to new heights . Watch for Sarah at area festivals, and the South's finest music spots for upcoming shows.

Check the band web site for more:

Production Note: Maggie Ballard (Cast)

Maggie Ballard (Ellie May Lester) is thrilled to be making her debut at BFT in Tobacco Road. She was last seen in The Bachelor as part of the Short Play Festival at South City Theatre. She was also in Tom Sawyer as Widow Douglas and Mattie in The Darkest Night at South City Theatre. Maggie also won Open Mic Night at the Stardome Comedy Club for stand-up comedy, and played Laurie in the feature film Lifted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Production Note: Michael T. Walters (Cast)

Michael T. Walters (Dude Lester) will have two shows at BFT under his belt come opening night. Michael has been looking forward to Tobacco Road since it was cast, and is pleased to be working along side Janelle again, and several actors he has seen but not shared the stage with. Michael was most recently seen in Anne Frank and Me at Children's Dance Foundation, and Shakespeare's R&J at Theatre Downtown. His favorite roles have been Jason from Rabbit Hole, Tom from The Glass Menagerie, and Romeo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Production Note: Pam Elder (Cast)

Pam Elder (Ada Lester) is pleased to return to the Birmingham Festival Theatre after her first performance there in 2001. At that time she had returned to the theater after untold years of raising children and working as a speech-language pathologist.

Pam has now performed in numerous Birmingham community theaters including the Jewish Community Center Theatre (Off Broadway), Terrific New Theatre (An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, My Name Will Always Be Alice, The Dixie Swim Club), Birmingham Festival Theatre (Angels in America, Kindertransport) and the South City Theatre (Christmas Belles, On Golden Pond, The Octette Bridge Club, and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean).

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Pam had the thrill of attending the first Teen Theater class at the celebrated Dallas Theater Center and later attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Production Note: John Falkenberry (Cast)

John Falkenberry (Jeeter Lester) is delighted to return to BFT for a 20th show. Among his favorite BFT roles are the title role in Jake's Women, Bobby Gould in Speed-the-Plow, Rev. Eddie in Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends: A Final Evening with the Illuminati, Samuel Byck in Assassins, Robert Strauss in Voice of Good Hope and Captain Taylor in BFT’s 1987 production of A Soldier’s Play, which started it all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Note from the Director of Tobacco Road

Our country has a great legacy of Theatre and Literature.

When audiences and readers choose to apply contemporary morés and attitudes toward historical works, this legacy becomes threatened. The lessons of history become moot, and the windows of enlightenment and revelation begin to close.

Great writers’ works would have been greatly diminished had they given consideration to the sensibilities of future readers and audiences. The tragic characters of Eugene O’Neill and Thomas Wolfe did not have a cadre of electronic media pop psycho-analytics to advise them from a safe distance on how to behave. Mark Twain’s characters in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn engaged in emotional and psychological struggles not only of love and morality, but of historical injustice and amorality. Diversity Training classes were not an optional source of exoneration.

Tobacco Road’s tragicomic Jeeter Lester is begat from the futility of his time and circumstance. His refuge is a pitiable belief in a return to a system of attaining a value as a human being that has long disappeared. His behavior, both immoral and amoral, is a result of his own narrow window of enlightenment.

Here’s hoping that our own contemporary morés and attitudes may be enlightened by this thought provoking and engaging lesson of history presented in this entertaining form of theatre. I think our sensibilities are up to the challenge.

Janelle Cochrane, Director

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tobacco Road Cast and Crew

The Board of Directors at BFT is honored to have this group of fine folk working on Tobacco Road, our final show of the 2009-2010 season. Sincere thanks go to each and every one of them.

(in order of appearance)
Dude Lester Michael Walters
Ada Lester Pam Elder
Jeeter Lester John Falkenberry
Ellie May Lester Maggie Ballard
Grandma Lester Sally Montgomery
Lov Bensey Dane Albright
Henry Peabody William Brisky
Sister Bessie Rice Mel Christian
Pearl Sarah Brock
Captain Tim Bates Redwine
George Payne Jack Heidt
Stage Manager Sufia Butt
Assistant Stage Manager William Brisky
Set/Lighting Design/Construction Monty Bishop
Sound Design Justin Wallace
Light Operator Sufia Butt
Sound Operator Justin Wallace/Monty Bishop
Production Coordinator Leah McCraney

Watch for upcoming posts with information on these talented "arteests"!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Old time string bands provide preshow music for Tobacco Road

Arrive early to experience this nostalgic art form that comes straight out of the time in which the events of Tobacco Road unfold. The music will begin right around 7:15 and continue almost to curtain time (8:00).

Jubilee, from Starkville MS, will play for the July 22 opening night (picture, bio). Bands scheduled for other nights include HeyHowdies (Joyce and Jim Cauthen and Rachel Turner, part of Birmingham's Flying Jenny), Sara Green, and The Potted Meat Boys.

The Flying Jenny web site describes string band music as "lively fiddle tunes meant for dancing as well as old songs sung on front porches and in front of fireplaces when families and friends got together after the day’s work was done."

The bands consist mainly or solely of string instruments and were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. String band music is among the forerunners of modern country music and bluegrass.

See the Wikipedia listing for more on this distinctively American music.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tobacco Road Gallery Partner: Jennifer Harwell Art

Works from Jennifer Harwell Art will be on display in the Haden Gaines Marsh Gallery at BFT during the run of Tobacco Road: July 22-August 7, 2010.

To get an idea of what a treat this will be, visit the JHA web site and check out the gallery, artists, jewelry, and sports art. You can even become a fan of Jennifer Harwell Art on Facebook.

The gallery is located in downtown Birmingham at 1901 6th Avenue North, in Suite 197 of the Harbert Plaza. Drop in, and tell'em BFT sent you!

To reserve seats for Tobacco Road, please call BFT at (205) 933-BFT3 [2383].

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Season Auditions a Huge Success!

Dozens of local actors—some new to BFT, some new to Birmingham, and some familiar faces—were on hand June 26 and 27 to audition for the 2010-2011 season productions at Festival.

Season tickets go on sale July 22, so get ready for some great theatre featuring some truly amazing talent. The season is posted at our web site (

See you on Southside!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kim Riegel's photograph to be in NYC exhibit

Photographer Kim Riegel is represented locally by Jennifer Hunt Gallery, one of BFT's partner galleries for the 2009-2010 season. As you may know, she's also married to Brad Riegel, who is active in the Birmingham theatre scene.

One of Kim's photographs has been selected for inclusion in BED TWO, an exhibit at the Umbrella Arts gallery in New York City. The photograph, titled "Greg & Brenda," is shown on the press release linked below, which also contains information about Kim and the exhibit.

"Greg & Brenda" may disturb some viewers because of its content. However, the frank portrayal of this couple's obvious love and acceptance of one another should also thrill, empower, and comfort many who see and think about it. The photograph is part of Kim's series “Observations of Intimacy.”
See the press release and photo.

It is a pleasure for BFT to see Kim's success, not only because of her affiliation with its partner gallery, but also because of her and Brad's long-standing support for theatre in the Birmingham area.

--Lee Griner, BFT Secretary

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Haden Gaines Marsh Gallery

On April 22, 2010, BFT dedicated its lobby art gallery to Haden Gaines Marsh.

Haden was married to Randy Marsh, one of BFT's founding directors. In the theatre's earliest years, she tirelessly served as casting assistant, costumer, chef, properties mistress.... If Randy needed it, Haden was there to do it.

BFT honors her talent, commitment, and supportive spirit.

Lou Dina, of DinaGraphics, was on hand and took several commemorative photos of the event.

Art Gallery partners represented in the 2009-2010 season include:

Jennifer Hunt Gallery 2800 Cahaba Village Plaza, Suite 260, Homewood

Loretta Goodwin Gallery 605 28th Street South

Maralyn Wilson Gallery 3908 Clairmont Ave

Littlehouse Galleries 2915 Linden Avenue

Monty Stabler Galleries 1811 29th Ave S, Homewood

Gallery represesentatives who would like to know more about having their artists' work featured during a BFT production may contact BFT at (205) 933-2383 or

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New directors on board

The Board of Directors at Birmingham Festival Theatre (BFT) announces the appointment of two new board members. John M. Hill is a Vice President in Corporate Communications at Regions Bank and has been involved in film and video production for many years. Gordon Pate, attorney and partner in Pate & Cochrun LLP, recently returned to the BFT stage as Dr. Gerald Lyman in "Bus Stop."

On your next visit to BFT, please be sure to say "Hi!" to John and Gordon. (They'll be selling tickets, ushering, serving soft drinks, or otherwise earning their keep!) You can also post your own welcome message for them at

BFT, founded in 1972, is the oldest continuously producing community theatre in Birmingham. A brief history of the theatre and the names of everyone currently on the board of directors can be found at

Monday, April 26, 2010

Opening Night of Dead Man's Cell Phone

See Photos from the Evening's Events

It started with the surprise announcement that BFT was dedicating its new art gallery space in the lobby to Haden Gaines Marsh. Haden was married to Randy Marsh, one of the founding directors of BFT.

By way of introducing her and the reason for the dedication, Edward Miller recounted her many roles at the fledgling BFT of the 1970s: casting coordinator, costumer, food-prop preparation...and more. Miller was joined in the charade-intro by fellow cast members from the 1979 BFT production of "That Championship Season."

Haden was visibly moved by the gesture of remembrance and honor.

Then, the nearly full house settled in for a very entertaining performance by a fine cast of actors, supported by a fine crew.

After the "curtain came down" (yeah, right, like we have room for a curtain!), everyone enjoyed the marvelous spring evening with hors d'oeuvres, beverages, and wonderful company from the past 39 years of theatre at BFT.

What a blast we all had!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What do you mean there are no small parts? I'm 6 1/2 feet tall for pity's sake!

Tonight marks the opening of a show that I didn't think I was going to be in ... but, you know how it goes... They need a giant, and, well, we're in short supply.

I've had an absolutely delightful time working with the cast of Dead Man's Cell Phone over the past weeks, and I can hardly wait to open the show tonight for our loyal BFT audience -- and of course for all the newcomers!

We have a few special events planned for opening night, but if you miss that, do try to make the show. It's very funny (which, frankly, surprised me... after reading the name of the show), and BFT has the honor of welcoming both new and returning actors to our stage for this production.

933-BFT3 is the number to call. And please, for heaven's sake, when they say turn off your cell phone... Well. You know what to do. ;-D

See you on the Southside!
Lee Griner

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Painting by Karen Williams, used on the set of "Dead Man's Cell Phone."

Check out rehearsal photos from the show at Flickr!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Russian Impressionism at Loretta Goodwin Gallery

Loretta Goodwin Gallery will be BFT's pARTner Gallery for Almost, Maine. Currently, the gallery is featuring paintings from 1945 to 1991. During this time, "Social Realism" was state-mandated in the Soviet Union because Impressionism was frowned upon by the Communist regime.

Several of the works featured on the gallery's web site have already sold, so take a look while you have a chance!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Festival Facelift

Fred and Edward painting at BFT

Fred Carter, volunteer extraordinaire (left), and Edward C. Miller, BFT Board of Directors, have worked tirelessly over the winter months to help the theatre be ready for a new year.

Much of the building's exterior has a fresh coat of paint (several coats in some places). The lobby has been repainted, which you saw if you came to the BATA holiday gathering in December. Since then, the new carpet has been installed, as well as new sinks in the restrooms.

Edward C. MillerEdward and Fred have gotten help from several BFT board members and from a few really great friends like Douglas O'Neil, Jr., of Extemporaneous Theatre Company.

The courtyard, too, has had a facelift. Watch for pictures as spring emerges in BFT's front yard.

Coming soon, a new sign for the front entrance and other exciting improvements!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Web Clean-Up

Each page of our web site at had about 12 buttons across the top, so it needed an overhaul. Here's hoping the new structure is "intuitive."

Our Flickr and Facebook pages are synopsed (is that a word?) on the home page now, and every page has contact information and a link to our new blog at

Whaddya think?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Loretta Goodwin Gallery - Almost, Maine

Loretta Goodwin Gallery will share its artwork with BFT audiences for Almost, Maine, June 10-26, 2010.

"Since 1982, Loretta Goodwin Gallery has established itself as one of the Southeast's premier fine art galleries and is now available to host intimate gatherings and special events. Working with talented designers and cutting edge style will insure your event will not go unnoticed."

The gallery is located at 605 28th Street South in Birmingham and is open 10-4 (M-F) and 10-3 (Sat).
Phone: (205) 328-1761
Map: Click for map

Loretta Goodwin Gallery is owned by local artist Dirk A. Walker (

Drop by the gallery, and tell them you heard about it at BFT!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The final version of the poster for Dead Man's Cell Phone is calling....

It's all about the 9's

So, I got so excited about BFT's upcoming 40th anniversary that I jumped the gun, thinking it was this coming season.

Nay, nay, fair maidens! That'll be the 2011-2012 season, and it'll be a hullabaloo!

In the meantime, check out the 2010-2011 season, newly posted at!

Live Feed for Live Theatre

BFT's blog is now available at