Tybee Post Theater and the Savannah Community Theatre are teaming up again to produce the hit play “Shirley Valentine” as part of its “Island Destination Theater” series.
“Shirley Valentine,” a one-woman show written by acclaimed playwright Willy Russell, focuses on an unhappy, middle-class English housewife who spends her time holding conversations with her kitchen wall until her best friend convinces her to travel to Greece for a much needed holiday. Shirley’s eye-opening experience in Greece changes her and leads to a new, more fulfilling life.
“It’s a very difficult show because it’s for one person and you have to have somebody pretty outstanding doing the role,” says Tom Coleman III, director of “Shirley Valentine” and founder of the Savannah Community Theatre.
Coleman, who is directing the show for the third time in his career, continues, “What happened to me in each situation is I had directed a show with someone that was part of an ensemble cast and I would say to them, ‘Have you ever done Shirley Valentine?’”
In this case, Coleman found an outstanding actor in Miranda Davis Smith, who plays the title role. Smith, who moved to Savannah in 2015, appeared in the Savannah Community Theatre’s recent production of “Ken” and made a strong impression on Coleman.
“It’s a one-woman show, so that makes it challenging on several levels,” explains Smith. “All of the people that Shirley’s scenes are with are in her mind, so creating those people, as well as Shirley and her life, has made it very challenging. It’s been a fun project.
“When it is material you are comfortable with — that speaks to you — it’s not as difficult because it feels natural,” Smith adds. “She is funny, she is witty, she has this way of seeing people in her life for who they are and completely accepting them for that.”
The “Island Destination Theater” series is designed to present the play as a “getaway” event and even offers a “Dinner and a Show” package that includes a pre-show meal at Sundae Café. After spending time on the beach and enjoying a nice dinner, seeing “Shirley Valentine” may be an apt way to complete a day with friends or family.
“I think it has a great message,” says Coleman. “I think it’s a very nice story and people need to hear it. One of the captions they put on it is ‘See this show with your family’ and I think, especially today, that people need to appreciate their individuality, but also what they mean to other people, too.”