Savannah Stage Company will present “Violet” from their new location at The Clyde Venue.
"It's a beautiful events space that really worked with us to make sure we could have a place to do our art," said artistic director and co-founder Jayme Tinti.
“Violet” is a multi-award-winning musical with music by Jeanine Tesori and libretto by Brian Crawley based on the short story "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts. It follows a scarred woman who embarks on a cross-country bus trip to be healed by a minister. Along the way, she discovers the true meaning of beauty.
“As a girl, Violet was struck by a wayward axe blade when her father was chopping wood, leaving her with a visible scar across her face,” said Tinti.
"With enough money finally saved she's traveling across the Deep South in 1964 towards a miracle – the healing touch of a TV evangelist who will make her beautiful," Tinti added. "Although she may not succeed in having the scar on her face healed, Violet is able to repair those scars that are lying deeper than her skin. On the way, she meets a young, African-American soldier whose love for her reaches far past her physical imperfections."
McKenna Lyons plays her first lead role in a musical as Violet. The show also features Carson Schlem and Neely Detwiler, both last seen in "Billy, Goat, Gruff: The Musical" and "Tuck Everlasting," according to a press release. Newcomers include Terrence Williams, Finn Repella, Elliot Szabo and Kah'teah Bacon. Company members are Geena Denton, last seen in 2016’s "‘The Wizard of OZ," Gary Shelby, last seen as Herr Schultz in 2018’s "Cabaret," Ashley Cook, Lexi Balaoing and founding member Wesley Pridgen. Choreography is by Io Ermoli, a Savannah Arts Academy senior with new company member Megan Wellman Blanton serving as music director.
Tinti said being a director is the most difficult thing in the world, but she loves every moment of struggle.
"I am constantly learning and acquiring new skills that I get to use to serve the audiences of this beautiful city,” she said. “I like to think of myself as an audience representative. I make sure that the story is clear to them and that it activates their imagination, and if it can be beautiful, it should.
“My favorite parts are when the actors start getting ahead of me, they are learning our aesthetic and brand of storytelling; I also like when they follow their impulses and come up with way better stuff than I had, so we get to throw out my stuff and do this cool, impulse-driven new stuff."
There is a certain je ne sais quoi for watching a live performance.
"I love that no matter what, the moments can never be recreated," said Tinti. "The experience happens only one time with those people in that room. The collective engagement doesn't transfer to TV and film. Those art forms do their own thing and get to be so incredibly accessible, but don't offer the same experience. I also love and respect the stamina required for theater and that you must be solving 20 million problems at once. It's so brave and after all, this is our Season of Bravery."
The Savannah Stage Company focuses on the strength of their acting, setting props and costumes to a minimum, so the characters and imaginations of the actors purvey directly to the audience.
"You can expect to have an experience that will stay with you and will resonate long after you've left the theater."