BROADWAY — Broadway is taking on another timeless classic with “The Curious Savage,” a family-friendly play that teaches a message of compassion and enjoying the simple pleasures in life, this Friday.
The Schultz Theatre invites the community to cast aside stereotypes and hardened hearts as they sit and watch the show. Audience members are first introduced to the residents of a sanatorium who do not fit into life outside the psychiatric facility. Each patient is good of heart but not able to cope with reality due to slight disillusions.
Terri Hoover, the theater’s artistic director, decided to bring the play to Broadway because she fell in love with the plot after performing in it over a decade ago. Hoover said the cast has given their all into reviving the story, and she hopes theater fans throughout the Shenandoah Valley can walk out of the auditorium doors with renewed faith in the world.
“You’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry, but you’re going to leave feeling really good about humanity,” Hoover said. “I feel like we’re really building something solid here in the town. How could a town named Broadway not have a fabulous theater?”
Dee White plays the lead role of Mrs. Savage who, much to the dismay of her stepchildren, begins spending the $10 million left by her late husband on helping others fulfill their dreams. Slightly quirky but led by a pure heart, White said playing Mrs. Savage comes easily to her because the character’s independent nature reminds her of herself.
“It would be me. If I really was her, I would really be her. I just love her,” White said. “It has sweet messages all through it: Kindness and understanding... treat everyone well and don’t dwell on the silly stuff. You know, look at the heart.”
Friday night’s show is White’s debut on-stage performance with the Schultz Theatre, but she previously worked backstage with the production company. Clark Ritchie, presiding judge for Rockingham Circuit Court, is also a new face at the theater and plays Titus, an infamous senator and the eldest of the stepchildren.
Many actors in the show have prior experience helping with setup as a backstage hand, but Friday’s show will mark the first time all actors have been on stage together. Jean Fiske, playing Lilly Belle, has been with the theater since 2017. Fiske said the actors have developed a strong connection on- and offstage, and their commitment goes beyond putting on a great show.
“We try out for everything, and if there is not a part for me, then I’m going to work backstage. I want to be involved in every show the Schultz Theatre does,” Fiske said. “We’re willing to do anything that they need us to do onstage, backstage. It is a family and we love every one of them dearly.”
The Schultz Theatre is a nonprofit entertainment organization that uses an entirely volunteer-based staff and has shown performances at the middle school venue since 2016. Hoover said the finances from each play provide benefits for the theater, school and overall community.
“The money we pay to the school for allowing us to use their stage, the school reinvests then back into the auditorium. So, it’s actually a win-win-win — the community gets a theater, we get the ability to perform and the school benefits from the revenues that are brought in as well,” Hoover said.
Performances will run for the next two weekends. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7 p.m. and curtain time on Sunday is 3 p.m. Tickets run for $15 for adults and $13 for students and seniors. Online sales close one hour prior to the start of show.