Theatre Preview: Faith Healer

Posted by: Necci – Jan 30, 2013


Self- contradicting, mesmerizing, heavily doused with alcohol… these could all describe Faith Healer, Henley Street Theatre’s next main stage show of its 2013 season. Part of the Acts of Faith Festival, Faith Healer premiers this Thursday, January 31st, at SPARC Center for the Performing Arts.

Presented from the mind of Brian Friel, one of Ireland’s most beloved playwrights, this story depicts three characters as they share their experience around the English and Irish countryside.

Frank, played by Joe Pabst, is a larger-than-life alcoholic and self proclaimed “faith healer”. According to the cast, he’s had some success, but more failure, and is constantly questioning his “talents.” His wife Grace, performed by Katie McCall, is a shattered soul, looking to her man to validate and define her very existence. Teddy, played by Ron Reid, is a former manager of second and third rate acts, who latches onto Frank the moment he sees him.

“Each character has lived the seemingly same experience, but as you hear us share it, you get completely different versions,” explains McCall. “You see all of these flawed characters and flawed choices, with completely different ideas, and you realize that happens in life all the time.“

The play, comprised of solely four monologue scenes, reveals the art of storytelling. “Storytelling is the original acting,” reveals Henley Street Artistic Director James Ricks. “It’s a rich piece, which has a lot of different themes working for it. The nature of the piece relies heavily on the art of storytelling, and demands a lot from the audience in that capacity.”

Reid says the most exciting part is the direct connection with the audience. “I’m accustomed to play scenes with people, having actions and objectives… and all of a sudden it’s just you and the audience,” reveals Reid. “It has the unique ability to engage the audience. We’re talking to them and we’re contacting them, which that’s something live theatre can do in a way nothing else can.”

With three different versions of one story, it’s really up to the audience to decide the outcome for themselves. “If people walk out wondering about all the pieces trying to come together, I’ll be flattered,” comments Pabst. “They will have to pull from all around, and every scene to decode it, which will be a challenge for us and them.”

Ricks explains Faith Healer is really a metaphor on the portrait of the artist. ”Each [character] describes [Frank's] ability to heal as a performance. He constantly asks the question, ‘What is the nature of my gift?’ I think that’s something every artist can relate to,” add Ricks. ” I think that’s why a lot of us get into any given art. Yet once self doubt enters the mind, you spend a lifetime wondering if you’re even worth the medal. There’ll certainly be a lot of food for discussion on the way home… Once you plug into it, it can take you a lot of places.”

Faith Healer, showing at the SPARC Center for the Performing Arts, will run Jan.31 through Feb. 23. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Thursdays (Jan. 31 and Feb. 21) at 8pm, and Sundays (Feb.10 and 17th)at 2pm. Talk-backs with Pastor Alex Evans, from Second Presbyterian Church, along with the cast and director, will follow the 2pm performances. Tickets are $30 for Adults, $25 for Seniors, $20 for Students, and $15 for preview night (Jan. 31) and industry night (Feb. 19). Purchase tickets online HERE. Or, enter to win tickets from your friends at RVA Mag right here!

By Shera St. Clair/originally appeared at