Sweet Bird of Youth at Limelight Theatre has ties to St. Augustine

Limelight Theatre's Executive Director Beth Lambert plays Alexandra Del Lago and Cory Billingsley portrays Chance Wayne in Sweet Bird of Youth, on stage Jan. 23 through Feb. 15 on the Matuza Main Stage, 11 Old Mission Ave., uptown St. Augustine. Photos by Renee Unsworth

Limelight Theatre’s Executive Director Beth Lambert plays Alexandra Del Lago and Cory Billingsley portrays Chance Wayne in Sweet Bird of Youth, on stage Jan. 23 through Feb. 15 on the Matuza Main Stage, 11 Old Mission Ave., uptown St. Augustine. Photos by Renee Unsworth

From Limelight Theatre

St. Augustine, FL — Sweet Bird is a classic play by Tennessee Williams which tells the story of a gigolo and drifter, Chance Wayne, who returns to his home town as the companion of a faded movie star, Alexandra Del Lago, whom he hopes to use to help him break into the movies. His homecoming is not well received by the locals as longtime secrets are revealed.

The drama opens Friday, Jan. 23 on the Matuza Main Stage of Limelight Theatre, and runs through Feb. 15. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.

According to Sweet Bird director Gary Cadwallader, Williams lived in St. Augustine for a short time. In Sweet Bird, Chance and Alexandra are traveling north from Palm Beach, and then west along “the Old Spanish Trail,” which began in St. Augustine and stretched over what is now I-10 to San Diego, California.

“It’s an absolute joy to dig deep into the symbolism and poetry of Tennessee Williams,” Cadwallader writes in his Director’s Notes.

“Truly one of the greats in American arts and letters, Williams’s plays are rich with layers of desires and anxieties.”

The local cast includes Cory Billingsley as Chance Wayne; Beth Lambert as Alexandra Del Lago; Courtney Grile as Miss Lucy; Madi Mack as Heavenly; Vanessa Warner as Aunt Nonnie; Evelyn Lynam as Violet/Maid; Daphne Moore as Edna; John Pope as Boss Finley; Lou Agresta as Hatcher; Austin Moore as Bud; Micah Laird as Scotty; Chase Lawless as Stuff; Michael Diamond as Scudder; Everette Street as Fly/Heckler/Charles; Scott Smith as Tom Finley, Jr.; and Kyle Thompson as Page.

“Williams wrote from the gut, and each play spotlights and magnifies his emotional state at the moment he was writing it,” Cadwallader said.

“Williams was questioning his own artistic viability and personal vitality when he poured his hopes and fears into Sweet Bird of Youth.”

Also in Cadwallader’s Director’s Notes: “This play resonates with desperate people clinging to the vain hope that the ravages of time won’t touch them. Sexual potency and the consequences of sex is prevalent throughout this story, and every character is affected or influenced by another’s sexual value. It’s fascinating to watch how each character expresses and filters their thoughts and fears through the lens of sexuality.”

Not only is the play set in Florida, but the original production, a one-act entitled The Enemy: Time, premiered as a two character play in Coral Cables in 1956.

Opening night on Jan. 23 includes a complimentary champagne toast and meet-the-cast reception after the show. Tickets are $25 per person.

Prior to performances on Feb. 13-14, learn more about playwright Tennessee Williams. Scholar Amanda Hill, currently a PhD Candidate at the University of Central Florida, studying Texts & Technology, will talk about Sweet Bird of Youth and the man who wrote it. She holds an MFA in Theatre and a BA in Music Theatre & Performance. This program will begin at 7 p.m., with the play to follow at 7:30 p.m.

Please note that this play has adult content; not intended for children.

For reservations, call 904-825-1164 or purchase online at limelight-theatre.org. Limelight Theatre is a nonprofit organization located at 11 Old Mission Ave., in uptown St. Augustine. Free parking is available streetside and in the theatre’s parking lot.

The cast and crew of Sweet Bird of Youth, on stage Jan. 23 through Feb. 15 at Limelight Theatre.

The cast and crew of Sweet Bird of Youth, on stage Jan. 23 through Feb. 15 at Limelight Theatre.

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