Theatre Information

Virginia Repertory Theatre Say Goodnight Gracie

By • Sep 29th, 2013 • Category: Reviews, Virginia
Say Goodnight Gracie
Virginia Repertory Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Virginia Rep Center – Hanover Tavern, Hanover, VA
Through November 3rd
90 minutes, without intermission
Reviewed September 28th, 2013

This COULD be my shortest review ever! Say Goodnight Gracie is a one-act, one man show. Now, to fill the rest of this review, I could ask Gracie about her brother (once you see the show, you will understand). I could also say it is presented by Virginia Repertory Company at Hanover Tavern’s Barksdale Theater.

Say Goodnight Gracie tells the story of the life of George Burns, who along with his comedy partner and wife Gracie Allen, was one of the few performers to find success in vaudeville, movies, radio and television.

In Say Goodnight Gracie Burns has just passed away at the age of 100 (I remember it like it was yesterday, even though it has been almost 20 years). He is appearing before God to “audition” his way into heaven and be reunited with Gracie. For 90 minutes he recalls his life story through a series of stories, sketches, slides and video snippets.

Say Goodnight Gracie was written by Rupert Holmes (Yes, the Pina Colada song guy) and was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award for best play, and won the 2003-04 National Broadway Theatre Award for best play.

Scott Wichmann as Burns took on a major challenge in portraying a person who was so well-known to those in my generation and beyond (and who can still be seen nightly on digital cable). In most aspects, Wichmann was spot on, capturing Burns’ warmth, charm and many of his physical nuances. When he licked his lips or smirked it was amazingly like having Burns present. He even captured Burns’ style of speech (but it would take 100 years of cigar smoking to actually capture his signature raspy voice). Wichmann made the 90 minute retelling of 100 years of history fly by.

He was assisted, of course, by the strong direction of Chase Kniffen, who made great use of the small Barksdale stage and many multi-media elements. K. Jenna Ferree’s lighting kept Wichmann’s performance even more visually entertaining. Special recognition goes to Sue Griffin and Marcia Miller-Hailey whose costumes and make up were also spot-on; helping transform Wichmann into Burns.

Whether you are a lover of George Burns, a lover of history or a lover of just plain good theater, Say Goodnight Gracie makes for 90 minutes of great entertainment. Of course, I could not live with myself if I did not close by saying…say good night Bruce…(yes it was a) good night!

Photo Gallery

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Photos by Jay Paul

The Cast

  • George Burns: Scott Wichmann

The Crew

  • Director/ Video Designer: Chase Kniffen
  • Stage Manager: Wendy Vandergrift
  • Set Designer: Terrie Powers
  • Lighting Design: K. Jenna Ferree
  • Costume Design: Sue Griffin and Marcia Miller-Hailey

Disclaimer: Virginia Repertory Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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