The Transylvania Times -

BLT Tackles Family Issues In 'Ancestral Voices'


September 23, 2019

The cast of "Ancestral Voices" are: (seated, left to right) Julie Vorus, Al Edick, Vanessa Cowie (standing, left to right) Bob McCormack, Doug Sparks, Martha Hogenboom, Joe Narsavage. (Courtesy photo by Steve Rose)

Family life can get interesting – and humorous – when one member's choices impose unwelcomed change and attention on the rest.

"Ancestral Voices," a play by A.R. Gurney, captures one such entertaining evolution as each character, representing a different family member or friend, recounts their perspective about romance gone awry between a grandmother and grandfather, living in Buffalo, N.Y., during the World War II era. As with his other well-known plays, including "Love Letters," Gurney uses humor to study and expose the WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) "ascendancy into retreat" in "Ancestral Voices."

Directed by Brevard Little Theatre veteran actress and director Julie Vorus and produced by BLT mainstay actor, producer and director Al Edick, "Ancestral Voices" is performed as a concert-style reading. Part of the theater's "Curtain Call Series," designed to expose theatergoers to experimental productions outside of the regular season's productions, seven local performers share their perspective of the scandalous events that rock a family in the 1940s.

The cast, chosen by Vorus and Edick, combines the talents of familiar BLT actors and actresses who are involved with BLT's Readers' Theatre with fresh talent from several newcomers. Stage Manager Paula Satkamp, who recently performed as part of BLT's production of "Radio Show," assists Vorus and Edick with running smooth performances.

Eddie, played by Doug Sparks, captures the playwright Gurney's humor and heartfelt warmth in his relationship with his own grandfather, who liked to take him fishing and show him real-world skills. Sparks most recently acted in "Bloomsday" at Asheville Community Theater and also took on the role of Billy Carewe in BLT's spring production of "Play On!"

Vorus takes on a dual role, as she also embodies Jane, Eddie's mother, who sees her parents' marriage falling apart and tries to console her father, while appeasing her mother. Vorus has been acting in film, commercials and on stage at theaters, including ones in New Orleans and Michigan, for 45 years. She last took to the BLT stage as Bella Manningham in the theater's 2016 production of "Angel Street," an adaptation of the Broadway hit "Gaslight."

Harvey, Eddie's father and Jane's husband, portrayed by Bob McCormack, watches the drama unfold between his in-laws, but maintains his position as a community leader and head of his family with stern seriousness. McCormack comes to BLT from Portland, Maine, where he's played various roles, including that of Harvey twice, at the Good Theater through 2013.

Producer Edick, like director Vorus, also takes to the stage, playing Eddie's grandfather, a former town icon who turns inconsolable, as the victim of his wife's wandering eye and heart. Edick, who has been active in theaters for 69 years, has been involved – either on stage or behind the scenes – with 23 shows at BLT. His last involvement was as director of this season's "Play On!"

Meanwhile, Eddie's grandmother, played by Brevard newbie Vanessa Cowie, becomes a town outcast but holds tight to her role as grandmother, as she justifies her affectionate switch from Grandfather to Uncle Roger. Cowie, a veteran community theater actress, played Melissa in Gurney's "Love Letters" and had roles in productions of "Steel Magnolias" and "Damn Yankees."

The apparent home-wrecker of the story, Uncle Roger, who was Grandfather's former best friend before turning into a wife stealer, is played by Joe Narsavage. Narsavage is a Connestee Falls-based screen and film actor, with community theater experience in Alabama, Puerto Rico, Colorado and Western North Carolina, including an appearance on the BLT stage in the 2011 production of "Love Letters," opposite Vorus.

Fanny Mitchell, a role brought to life by Martha Hogenboom, is the only character not directly related to the family, but a budding interest in Grandfather gives her a different perspective of the dynamics involved in the unfolding drama. Hogen-boom, last seen on the BLT stage as part of the cast for "Stories From Mothers of the Brides," has performed in radio, film and on other Western North Carolina stages, including at the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre in Mars Hill and at Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville.

The play will be performed Friday-Sunday, Sept. 27-29, at the theater, located at 55 E. Jordan St. in downtown Brevard. Shows take place Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

"Ancestral Voices" is a free production, but donations of $5 are appreciated at the door, as the theater is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For more information, visit or call the box office at (828) 884-2587.


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