Member WEBLetter (May 22)

Kevin Harnisch

Message from the Providence Players Board President, Kevin Harnisch

We proudly celebrate our Washington Area Community Theatre Honors (WATCH) and Ruby Griffith honors for our production of Don’t Dress for Dinner. We received the top WATCH awards of: Best Outstanding Play; Best Outstanding Ensemble; and Best Outstanding Direction. Separately, The British Players, which sponsors the annual, storied Ruby Griffith Awards, recognized this same production with First Runner-up for Best Achievement in a Play. We are delighted!

As we moved into spring and celebrated Mental Health Awareness month, we concluded our well received production Surviving Grace. During the first weekend of the production, we were touched to have the attendance of the husband and immediate family of the late playwright, Trish Vradenburg. Their attendance and post-performance sharing of family stories with the actors, Director, and Producer, was very heartwarming. 

(Photo: George Vradenburg, Director Jayne Victor, family friend, Congressman Gerry Connolly

We are excited to have started rehearsals for our not to be missed June production, Twelve Angry Jurors (details below). We will only have seven (7) performances of “Jurors”. So, check the new dates on the website and make your reservations ASAP! Also, be sure to check our Save the Date section as well. Consider attending the Tinner Hill Festival on June 8 and please plan to attend the PPF Annual General Meeting on June 10. 

We look forward to seeing you soon,

Kevin Harnisch
President, Board of Directors

Coming Attraction: Twelve Angry Jurors, Written by Reginald Rose and Adapted by Sherman L. Sergel

Twelve Angry Jurors Takes the James Lee Stage in June
By Janet Bartelmay

You may have seen the story on the silver screen.  Or on TV.  Or on Broadway.  Now you can see it on the James Lee Community Center stage as Providence Players brings you Sherman L. Sergel’s adaptation of Reginald Rose’s Twelve Angry Men – in this case, Twelve Angry JurorsThis dramatic “twist and turn” courtroom drama tells the story of twelve jurors charged with the unenviable task of deciding a young man’s fate. 

Accused of brutally murdering his father, the young man’s life hangs in the balance as a jury of his peers battle reasonable doubt, prejudice, and their own morality in a cramped, overheated deliberation room.

The production will be Dave Wright’s directorial debut with PPF.  (Dave was last seen on the PPF stage in Don’t Dress for Dinner).  The Jurors, pictured below in rehearsal, include some familiar faces as well as some new ones. The PPF audience may recall seeing Bruce Rauscher and Ann Brodnax last season in Don’t Dress for Dinner, and may also recognize Mike Rudden, Gayle Nichols-Grimes, Allen McRae, and Roxanne Waite from other PPF productions.  Six of the Jurors (John Paul Odle, Liz Owerbach, Jess Rawls, Aaron Truax, Eric Kennedy and Ursula Burgess) will perform with PPF for the first time – and we hope that they will consider PPF a new home.

The play opens on June 13 and runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon through June 22.  Ticket information is available on the PPF website.

Director in the Spotlight: Dave Wright
Interview by Tina Hodge Thronson

Dave Wright

Providence Players audiences are now familiar with Dave as Bernard, the womanizing dinner-party host of our production of Don’t Dress for Dinner. However, Dave has actually been involved in theater throughout the DMV for over 30 years. He has acted in, and directed, numerous productions. He was the Regional Director for Murder Mystery Players from 1999 to 2010 and he remains the Creator/Moderator of the professional improv troupe Last Ham Standing. When asked his thoughts about working with actors, directing a straight drama after so much comedic experience, and directing for PPF, he shared the following: 

My role as Moderator for my improv troupe requires me to keep the talent on track. I see this play as an extension of what I currently do. I love the creative process in all its forms so directing is not only satisfying for me, but it also allows me to use my skills – keeping actors on track. Since I am an actor myself, I have an automatic shorthand for communicating what I want to see. I also believe in being very collaborative, so I also look forward to working creatively, with all the actors, in order to find the truth of each character. 

I was drawn to Twelve Angry Jurors because I like “procedurals” and am attracted to themes that include that of the lone individual taking a stand against the group. There is also a “noir” quality to the script that I find intriguing – I want to explore those “shades”. I want to find those special moments. I am also looking forward to directing with the Providence Players. I worked with Beth Whitehead back in the day on California Suite and again with Beth and David on Don’t Dress for Dinner. Folks are very supportive and collaborative, and the James Lee folks have been excellent to work with. I expect this experience will be great fun. Providence Players productions always showcase good work.  

Gerry Connolly Scholarship for the Performing Arts
By Mike McLaughlin

Each year the Providence Players offer scholarships to graduating High School seniors who plan to continue their involvement in theater arts. Presented in honor of Gerry Connolly, the $2,000 grants help defray the cost of college. Recipients must either have been a member of PPF for a year or live in our community (school boundaries of Annandale, Fairfax, Falls Church, Meridian, Justice, Marshall, Bishop O’Connell, Trinity School at Meadow View, Woodson or Yorktown High Schools).

Applications are pretty simple—a short form to fill out and copies of the student’s letter of acceptance to college and two or three letters of recommendation. Full details are available on our websiteApplications are due by June 28, but there is no reason to wait.

A committee reviews submissions and makes the final decisions on the scholarship grants. The criteria used to make the selection are:

  • 40% based on the applicant’s past involvement in theater arts and contributions made to theater arts,
  • 10% based on the applicant’s contribution to Providence Players of Fairfax (if any); and
  • 50% based on the applicant’s potential to further contribute to theater arts.

The Gerry Connolly Scholarship program is an important part of PPF’s community outreach efforts. Please help us spread the word to local fine arts teachers, neighbors, and friends.

PPF 2011 Scholarship Winner Takes the Stage in Twelve Angry Jurors

Jess Rawls

In 2011, Jess Rawls was a senior at Fairfax High School with an already impressive theater resume.  She applied for – and was awarded – a scholarship from PPF in recognition of her past and expected future contributions to theater arts.  (This scholarship program is now known as the Gerry Connolly Scholarship for the Performing Arts.)

Fast forward to 2024.  Jess Rawls will make her acting debut with Providence Players as Juror #5 in our production of Twelve Angry Jurors.  Since receiving her scholarship from PPF, Jess has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015.  Following graduation, she moved to New York where she began work at Actors Connection while acting in both professional and community theater.  When the pandemic hit, she moved back to Northern Virginia where she has continued her involvement in community theater. As Jess explains, “I am so happy to be back in the area that set the foundation of my acting career. I wouldn’t be half the artist I am today without this community and the people in it.”

PPF Board Member Janet Bartelmay, who has reviewed scholarship applications since the program’s inception, commented, “Jess is precisely the kind of person that this program was designed to honor. To have her return to this area and join the PPF family is truly heartwarming.”

Opening Weekend Party: Surviving Grace

Attendees had a great time at the opening night party this past April for Surviving Grace. The Party was held at Clare and Don’s Restaurant.  Enjoy these great photos!

Save the Dates

30th Annual Tinner Hill Music Festival – Providence Players is partnering with The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation in support of the 30th Annual Tinner Hill Heritage Music Festival.  Join us on Saturday, June 8, 2024, from 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM in Cherry Hill Park at 312 Park Avenue, Falls Church, VA, 22046 for a fun day of Grammy Award winning music talent and family entertainment. 

PPF General Membership meeting –  The Board of Directors of the Providence Players will host the annual membership meeting on Monday, June 10, 2024, at The Italian Cafe, 7161 Lee Highway, Falls Church VA.  Doors open at 6:30pm and the business meeting will begin at 7:00pm. At the meeting, the Board will provide an update on PPF activities, including a look at the new 2024-2025 season. At the meeting, members will elect three members of the Board of Directors; other business may be brought before the meeting. It provides an opportunity to meet and greet new and seasoned members while getting an update on company activities and plans for the year ahead. Please come and spend time with friends and fellow theater colleagues – we would love to see you.  Enjoy the photos below from past events.

Member Updates

  • Congratulations to our fellow members Jason Damaso, Mario Font and Matthew Randall who will be presenting Rent by Jonathan Larson for Dominion Stage.   Jason is the Director, Mario is the Assistant Director and Matthew is the Executive Producer. Congratulations gentlemen on all your hard work – Break a leg!
  • Welcome New members: Nicole Andres, Ursula Burgess,  Neil Conway, Lisa Hill-Corley,  Kevin Dykstra, Sharon Morris (and Family), John Paul Odie, Liz Owerbach, Jessica Rawls, Aaron Truax, and Nina Unger  Welcome to Providence Players!
  • Renewing members include:  Mary Ayala-Bush, Ann Brodnax, John Coscia & Lisa Church, Deborah Davidson, Sandra DeRocha, Janet Kohler Dueweke, Gayle Nichols Grimes, Kevin Jahns, Elizabeth Keith, Alan McRae, Clyde Miller, Brian O’Connor, Bruce Alan Rauscher, Mike Rudden, and Ian Wade.
  • If your membership is lapsed and you wish to renew, you can click here.

Want to join in the fun? Here are two ways to let us know!

  • Send an email directly to  and we will pass along your interest to the Directors.
  • Complete the Member Interest survey. To get started just click the link below, take 5 minutes, fill out the form and hit send!  We will review your interests and reach out to you when opportunities present themselves.

Click here to fill out the volunteer form. 

We look forward to working and playing with you!

Final Curtain?

(Have an update you would like to share with your fellow members?  Please send an email to with the subject line “Member Update” and we will include it!)
(In a show with another company?  Join our Facebook Group page.  Share the news!)

Click here to see a list of previous WEBLetters.
WEBLetter Editor:  Tina Hodge Thronson