I’ve been going to the theater since I was in grade school. I probably wouldn’t be as infatuated with the stage if it hadn’t been for my Aunt Roberta who thought I needed a healthy dose of culture in my life even though I was only 6 or 7. She made sure I knew about opera, the symphony, ballet and the theater.
One of the first productions I ever saw on stage in Richmond was “Hello Dolly.” Dolly’s love of life turned into my love for the theater. And, what I’ve discovered over the years is that Richmond has a wealth of theatrical talent, everything from savvy set designers to accomplished actors. One of the most talented actors in town, in my humble opinion, is Scott Wichmann.
I have had the pleasure over the years to watch him grow into his acting skin, taking on all sorts of roles, from Shakespeare’s “Richard III” to a hilarious scam artist in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” One of my favorite Scott stories comes from his performance in the zany comedy “Scapino” when he darted into the audience and took a seat next to a man who had fallen asleep during the show. Scott worked that awkward moment into the dialogue and had everyone but the Sleeping Beauty in stitches. The man’s wife thought it was hilarious, the man not so much.
I’m very excited that Scott is now taking on the role of the legendary George Burns in Virginia Rep’s one-man show, “Say Goodnight Gracie,” at Hanover Tavern. The show is about the life of this beloved comedian and the love of his life, his wife, Gracie Allen. It runs through November 3.
In addition to being a fan of Scott, I am also a huge fan of Burns and Allen. Their television show aired from 1950 to 1958. Their fresh approach to humor endures through the ages. Theirs was one of the great love stories of all times and Scott tells me that the show at Hanover is really a love letter to Gracie, a celebration of her talent.
One thing that Burns and Allen were known for is their perfect timing and their illogical logic style of comedy. Getting that down and also zeroing in on the pitch and timber of George’s voice was a challenge for Scott in the beginning – everything has to be exact or it won’t be believable. In fact he says he panicked when it didn’t come as easily as he had hoped.
Knowing Scott, I’m sure he now has everything down and he and the production will be a big hit. I’m looking forward to seeing it all unfold on stage.
Joan Tupponce is a national award-winning freelancer who was born and raised in the Richmond area. You’ll often spot her out and about enjoying all the great cultural aspects of the area. Check out her websiteat http://joantupponcewrites.blogspot.com/.