CenterStage at the Ritz to open 2018 season with “First Baptist of Ivy Gap”

By  | April 16, 2018 | Filed under: News

Cast and crew excited to take on poignant and emotional comedy

SHEFFIELD-The Tennessee Valley Art Association’s performing arts series, CenterStage/SummerStock at the Ritz, announces the opening of its 2018 season with Ron Osborne’s “First Baptist of Ivy Gap.”

Performances begin at 7:35 p.m., April 19 – 21, 26 and 27 at the historic Ritz Theatre, 111 W. Third St., Sheffield. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and can be purchased at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art, 511 N. Water St., Tuscumbia and online at or by calling 256-383-0533.

Directors Laura Connolly and Andrew Maples said “First Baptist of Ivy Gap” is a poignant comedy in two acts that will make audiences laugh and cry. The first act takes place during World War II, as six women prepare for the church’s 75th anniversary. In the second act, we see those same six characters now 25 years older, preparing for the 100th anniversary.

“You see their emotional struggles like having children going off to war,” Connolly said. “It’s heavy and intense at some points, and really funny at others. There are some moments that will make you gasp. You’re going to cry sad and happy tears.”

Laura Connolly

“First Baptist of Ivy Gap” has been double cast by Maples and Connolly. Six actresses play the women in 1945 and another six play their older counterparts in 1970.

Connolly said approaching the show in that manner has been one of the more enjoyable and challenging aspects of the production. The actresses attend each other’s rehearsals to watch their counterparts, so they can pick up on ways to emulate them.

“Instead of casting six actresses and aging them up in the second act, we chose to double cast the show,” Connolly said. “It’s great fun for the actresses to try to embody their counterparts’ mannerisms and voices. And we did a pretty good job on their looks.”

Connolly said the crew are enjoying working on the costumes, which are old enough to be period, but not so old as to make finding pieces too difficult. Even the cast are excited to be involved finding clothing and hairstyles to fit their respective time periods.

“They are jumping on that,” Connolly said with a laugh. “And the actresses with their hairstyles, they’re saying ‘oh can I wear my hair like this?’ We just say ‘let’s research it and see if that works.’”

The 2018 CenterStage/SummerStock season celebrates the 90th anniversary of Ritz Theatre, which first opened in 1928 as a silent movie house. After closing in 1953, the landmark theatre reopened in 1985 with the CenterStage production of “Anything Goes.”

CenterStage/SummerStock season tickets are available and include “First Baptist of Ivy Gap” as well as “Oklahoma!” July 19 – 21, 26 and 27; “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” Oct. 4 – 6, 11 and 12 and “Declarations: An Evening with Thomas Jefferson,” Oct. 25 – 27.

Season ticket packages begin at $65 for adults and $48 for students and may be purchased at the Tennessee Valley Museum of Art and online at or by calling 256-383-0533.


Media Release/Bobby Bozeman/Marketing and program development/Tennessee Valley Art Association

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