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Lessons of Beauty, Love and Courage in “Violet - A Musical” at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre Nov. 6-15


West Windsor, N.J. – It’s a story about the amazing things that can happen on the way to somewhere else, as an emotionally and physically scarred young woman sets out to change her life. The Pennington Players present “Violet – A Musical” at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre.  

Dates and show times for this transformative tale are: Fridays, Nov. 6 and 13 at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Nov. 7 and 14 at 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Nov. 8 and 15 at 2 p.m. A reception with the cast and crew follows the opening night performance on Nov. 6.  

Set during the civil rights era of the 1960s, Violet is a young woman from the hills of North Carolina who was badly disfigured in a childhood accident. Convinced that a televangelist faith healer has the power to restore her appearance, she sets out on a bus trip to Tulsa, Okla. Along the way, she meets a pair of soldiers – Monty, who is white, and Flick, who is black.  In the South of 1964, she finds a kinship with Flick, who, like her, is immediately judged by strangers because of his appearance.  The real question the show ponders is “What is beauty?”

Based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, “Violet” borrows its musical style from the American traditions of blues, gospel and folk. Featuring music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Brian Crawley, the original production opened in 1997 to critical acclaim, winning the New York Drama Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards for Best Musical as well as the Richard Rodgers Production Award.  “Violet” is an early musical score by Tesori, whose best-known later works range from big-name movie adaptations of “Shrek” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” to the more adventurous terrain of “Caroline, or Change,” her collaboration with Tony Kushner, which is also set in the civil rights era South.

Violet (Shannen Doyle) discovers the true nature of beauty in a transformative journey. Photo by Rob Gougher.
Violet (Shannon Doyle) and Flick (Kyrus Westcott) learn they have much in common. Photo by Rob Gougher.

Leading the cast are Shannen Doyle of Kendall Park as Violet, Kyrus Keenan Westcott of Hamilton as Flick, and Ben Menahem of Plainsboro as Monty.  Completing the cast are Julia Toto of Pennington as Young Violet; William Kamps of Burlington as Father; Jaimie McMillin of Bordentown as the Old Lady; Tia Brown of Lawrenceville as the Music Hall singer; Jaleesa Moore of North Brunswick as Lula Buffington. Also featured are Faye Macey of Philadelphia, Pa., as the Landlady; Michael Zweig of Philadelphia, Pa., as the Preacher; Michael Gearty of Langhorne, Pa., as Virgil; and Tom Bessellieu of Lawrenceville as the Bus Driver.

Jenn Gregg is the producer, with stage direction by Frank Ferrara.  The production staff also includes Musical Director Shannon Ferrara, Associate Music Director Mike Gilch, Stage Manager Vianna Fagel, and Choreographer Nicole Farina-Machin. Set design is by Bryan Schendlinger; lighting design is by Judi Parrish; sound design is by Wayne Irons; costume design is by Jay Stevens; and properties are by Dottie Farina.

Tickets are $20 for adults; $18 for senior citizens, and $16 for students and children. Free parking is available next to the theater. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Kelsey Box Office at 609-570-3333. 

For the complete events schedule and more at Kelsey Theatre, visit:

Kelsey Theatre 2015-16 Schedule
Kelsey Website
Audition Informations
Tomato Patch Workshops
for Children and Teens

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Glenn Kraft