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March 13, 2009

CW sets the stage for 18th-century performing arts events

Colonial Williamsburg’s guests will delight in the diversions of the stage, as they are transported into 18th-century culture through the arts. Sneak a peak behind the scenes of 18th-century play production, learning about the scenery, costumes and magic of colonial theater. Visitors are sure to pick up a few new moves as they spin around the ballroom with Colonial Williamsburg’s dancing instructors and musicians’ tunes.

Performances running from March to mid-June 2009 include:

  • Meet the Players, 10:30 a.m. daily, except Wednesdays and Thursdays, at the Play Booth. Visit with members of the performing arts department as you discover the importance of theater, music and dance to the people of colonial Virginia. Learn a bit about what is involved in mastering the skills needed to perform to a full house!
  • Pleasures of the Dance, 10:30 and 11 a.m., Mondays at the Raleigh Tavern, noon and 12:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Mary Stith House. Since all eyes are on you when you dance at the balls, you had best spend some time with our dancing instructor and one of our musicians. Guests may enjoy learning about one of 18th-century Virginia’s favorite pastimes. Space is limited.
  • Pleasures of the Playhouse, 12:30 p.m., Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at the Play Booth. Enjoy the variety of entertainments found in an evening at the playhouse. Anything from comedy to tragedy, music and dance. George Washington never slept here!
  • Palace Concert, 7:30 and 9 p.m., Governor’s Palace on Tuesdays. The regal Governor’s Palace comes to life by candlelight as Colonial Williamsburg’s early music ensemble, Governor’s Musick, offers an elegant evening of chamber music. The colonial repertoire custom crafted to each performance and varies throughout the season. The program includes music known in colonial Virginia as well as music from Europe and England. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six to 17 and $6 for children under 6.
  • A Dancer of Ease, 10:30 a.m., Wednesdays at the Raleigh Tavern. In 1772, this description was applied to Robert Aldridge, a well-known dancer of fashionable solo stage hornpipes in London and Dublin. Join our dancers for a program of 18th-century theatrical dance, and allow yourself to be transported by our own elegant dancers of ease.
  • Daughters of Liberty, 12:30 p.m., Wednesdays at the Raleigh Tavern. Women couldn’t vote but they were far from silent when it came to the American Revolution. Discover how women contributed to the fight for independence using those sharpest of weapons – words and wit.
  • Women on the English Stage, 11:30 a.m., Wednesdays at the Raleigh Tavern. Women have been acting onstage since 1660. Explore the rich tradition of English women of the theater and their colonial counterparts. Space is limited, arrive early.
  • Handel, Bach and Who? 10:30 and 11 a.m., Thursdays at the Mary Stith House. Enjoy music written by composers whose names were well known to our colonial founders but have fallen by the musical wayside in the generations since. Guests will be surprised by the quality and entertainment value that much of this music contains.
  • Fops, Rogues and Villains, 10:30 a.m., Thursdays at the Play Booth. The theater of the colonial era was often advertised as a “moral Academy” where the audience could learn from the characters on stage. Not all of the characters, however, were role models. The 18th-century stage if full of scheming, backstabbing and intrigue.
  • Shakespeare on the Green, 12:30 p.m., Thursdays at the Play Booth. Shakespeare was a favorite for the actors and audiences here in the colonies, as well as in England. However, as also common today, theater companies rewrote the Bard’s words to suit the tastes and sensibilities of their audiences. Scenes, speeches and even characters were often added, deleted or changed completely. Enjoy this lively look at how these “improvements” to Shakespeare’s plays did and did not survive.
  • Polly Honeycombe, 7:30 p.m., Thursdays at the Kimball Theatre. Young Polly is looking for a man to sweep her off her feet in the dashing, heroic fashion of the many romantic novels she reads. Polly finds such a man in Scribble, a poor, aspiring writer, but her father has arranged a sensible, profitable marriage to Mr. Ledger, a most sensible, profitable and dull broker. Enacting scenes of excitement, adventure and intrigue found in her beloved books, Polly tries to outwit her practical father and her distracted mother with the help of her trusted nurse. Guests are sure to be entertained by this classic farce of mistaken identities and surprise revelations. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six to 17 and $6 for children under 6.
  • Silver Buckles & A Viol, 7 and 8:30 p.m., Fridays at the Capitol. No program April 10. Join us for a musical journey spanning the 81 years between Queen Anne’s capitol to a Revolutionary backwater. Enjoy an evening of “full various and devicefull musick” performed on the viola da gamba and harpsichord. The concert features music by Handel, Telemann and Abel. Tickets are $12 for adults and youth ages six to 17 and $6 for children under 6.
  • Theater for the Young, 1:30 p.m., Saturday at the Play Booth. Join our troupe of actors onstage as you, the young revolutionary citizen and theatrical apprentice, take the stage in a fun, fast-paced play about a Virginia patriot and the adventure he shares with his friends and countrymen.

    Unless otherwise indicated, a valid Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket is required. For reservations and more information, call 1-800-HISTORY.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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