Cindy Bither
Administrative Assistant
P: (540) 464-7207
F: (540) 464-7443

111 Smith Hall
Lexington, VA 24450

VMI Community Theatre Opens June 22

LEXINGTON, Va., June 22, 2011 – The new VMI Community Theatre will open its first summer production, “Melodrama Tonight! – The Drunkard or The Fallen Saved,” tonight, June 22, with additional performances June 23, 24, and 25, all at 7:30 p.m. in the Gillis Theater in Marshall Hall.

This 1844 play, adapted by William H. Smith, served to promote the Temperance Movement of that period, and, after 140 performances at the Boston Museum, was “acknowledged to be the most successful play ever banned in Boston.” It tells the story of a young American gentleman, Edward Middleton, who falls under the evil influences of a wicked lawyer and “demon drink,” bringing hardship to his family and degradation to himself. When it seems that he will never recover, rescue comes from a kind philanthropist, a faithful servant, and a loving wife.

VMI Theatre director Joellen Bland has freely adapted the original five-act play, condensing it to two acts, reducing the cast of characters, and adding music to make a light summer-time theatrical offering where the audience is invited to participate with cheers, boos and hisses, sighs and other emotional reactions to the story played out on the stage.

As the new VMI Community Theatre is open to everyone interested in participating, the cast and crew for “The Drunkard” includes area residents and performers from the VMI and Washington and Lee University communities.

Heading “The Drunkard” cast are cadet Robert Danielson as Edward Middleton, the drunkard, and head of VMI media services Michael Brickler as Lawyer Cribbs, the villain. Others in the cast include Rockbridge County High School students Ben and Melissa Christensen, recent W&L graduate Emma Patrick, Lexington residents Jan Lowry and Donna Pagnam, and VMI Theatre “veterans” Helen Cox, Michelle Cunningham, and Phil and Sharon Peters.

“Melodrama Tonight!” will continue with “Our American Cousin,” the play performed at Ford’s Theatre in Washington on April 14, 1865, when President Lincoln was shot. “Our American Cousin” will run July 13-15 and 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gillis Theater.

There is still time for anyone interested in participating in the new community theatre, either onstage or behind the scenes, to contact Bland at 464-7389 or

Admission to “The Drunkard” is $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens. VMI summer students will be admitted free of charge.