Joanna Henry returns to Vienna Theatre Company to direct ‘Doubt: A Parable’

Veteran director's first VTC show in 25 years runs through November 6.

Veteran director Joanna Henry is back at Vienna Theatre Company (VTC) directing its current production of Doubt: A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. VTC is happy to have Joanna taking the helm in presenting this powerful story to the public. The last production she directed at VTC was the musical 1776 in 1997 — 25 years ago. Joanna is a previous Vienna resident, former VTC member and director, and past Artistic Director at VTC, and her return to direct feels like a warm homecoming.

Joanna Henry

Joanna most recently directed The Best Worst That Can Happen at Aldersgate Church Community Theatre (ACCT). Other productions she has directed include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, The Odd Couple (female), 33 Variations (Outstanding Production), and Rabbit Hole (Ruby Griffith Award), among other plays and musicals at Little Theater of Alexandria, as well as three benefits: BC/EFA, Olney Theater, Leukemia/Lymphoma Society, and a regional production of Wit. Recently retired as Director of Theater Arts at Bishop Ireton High School, she’s received LTA’s Award for Directing (Into the Woods), two ACT awards (Best Director), and two WATCH nominations (Director). Four of her productions have received Ruby Griffith awards.

Doubt: A Parable analyzes an instance of doubt and suspicion in a Catholic school in the Bronx in the 1960s. The play tells the story of principal Sister Aloysius’s suspicions about an inappropriate relationship between a priest and a young male student. Premiering in 2004 and a winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, it is a story of suspicion cast on a priest’s behavior that is less about scandal than about nuanced questions of moral certainty.

Gayle Nichols-Grimes as Sister Aloysius Beauvier and Danielle Comer as Sister James, in some of the last few powerful moments of Vienna Theatre Company’s production of ‘Doubt: A Parable’ playing now. Photo by Matthew Randall.

In the play, Sister Aloysius plants the seeds of uncertainty about Father Flynn into the mind of young Sister James. That tactic doesn’t work with Mrs. Muller, mother of the student involved, who basically turns the tables on Sister Aloysius. Each character must figure out what his/her own uncertainties are. What do they doubt and why? The final doubt is for the audience. Who is right? Who is innocent? Who is guilty? Sister Aloysius herself expresses doubt in the last lines of the play. Who or what is she doubting? Doubt will raise questions and answer none, leaving us all to grapple with the discomfort of our own uncertainties.

Cast members in order of appearance in the play are Bruce Alan Rauscher (Father Flynn), Gayle Nichols-Grimes (Sister Aloysius Beauvier), Danielle Comer (Sister James), and Jacquel R. Tomlin (Mrs. Muller). Bruce and Gayle have appeared previously in VTC productions, while this is the first time for Danielle and Jacquel on the VTC stage. Other production team members are Set Designer, Steve Ross; Light Designer, Tom Epps; Sound Designer, Alan Wray; Property Designer and Set Dressing, Helen Bard-Sobola; Costume Designer, Beverley Benda; Stage Managers, Anna-Kathleen Camper and Lauren Markovich; Hair/Make-up Design, Kendel Taylor; Producers, Laura Fargotstein and Tom Epps.

Doubt: A Parable runs for six more performances (8 pm Fridays and Saturdays, October 28 and 29, November 4 and 5; 2 pm matinees Sundays, October 30 and November 6) presented by Vienna Theatre Company performing at Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry St SE, Vienna, VA 22180. Purchase tickets ($15 general admission) at the Vienna Community Center or online.


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