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About the Show

A Young Girl's Journey to Discover Her Ancestry
and Her Destiny

Stories are the heart of a people's heritage. In Heart of the Tin Trunk it takes stories to convince a young college graduate that a family's most precious heritage is its unique roots.

Teresa is looking to the future. With her iPhone in hand, she banters back and forth with her grandmother in song. She doesn't understand why she should learn to sew a dress from a flour sack or make a garden grow. Along with her 21st century friends, she twitters, she texts, she dances, she sings, she falls in love. What could her ancestors possibly know about today's world?

Meanwhile her grandmother Melia is looking to the past. In her reveries, she dances the traditional dance; she sings the traditional songs. While her granddaughter is not emotionally bound to the past, Grandmother Melia fears contemporary life is eclipsing values like family spirit, determination, church going, and love of the land.

To help her granddaughter understand these ideals, Melia gifts her with the family trunk. In the trunk are memories of another time--together they discover a quilt, a wedding dress, a picture. These treasures all lead to life-changing stories of hardship, of survival, of celebration and of romantic love.

There's magic inside a tin trunk--a trunk packed to overflowing with a La Grange writer's imaginings.

"Everyone says on a scale from 1-10, it was an 11!" --Margaret Burton

"You gave a familiar experience to the Czech audience and to us non-Czechs too. I think I cried in a few places and had fun clapping in other places." --Sue Verheyden

"May God bless you for all the love, laughter and tears you have given to so many. Just wanted to thank you for all your hard work and the enjoyment it brought to not only myself and my family, but to thousands of others!" --Janis (Parma) Sladecek

"You have captured a distinct need in today around us everywhere and that is loyalty, remembrance and respect for what it took in our pasts to bring us to the high pinnacle we have experienced up until now! Out of that old tin trunk came the true realization that "freedom isn't free" and if you really want something bad enough you, yourself must go after it and be prepared to meet whatever faces you along the way. Have we done such a poor job of parenting that the younger generation, ...immigrants from world sectors cannot see what it took to make outsiders true Americans?" --Pete and Ardy Cross

"What a gift you have given to so many people, and what courage it took to pursue your dream." --Margo Johnson

"Your play was so powerful--such an important story." --Jeannette Vance

"I have never experienced a family story more beautifully portrayed." --Bob Parma

"What a beautiful story across generations to reach and teach multiple generations about the struggles and endurance our ancestors faced and the love that endures through family." --Carrisa Parnsli


The goal of the playwright, Virginia Leech, is to encourage today's elders to pass on their stories and traditions, but to also remind the contemporary youth of immigrant descendants to hold on to that past and history. It is in their heritage where character, morals and ethics lay. Texas pride is made up of so many histories and cultural influences, but certainly the music, hard work, joy and friendship of the Czech and German people is legendary.

2012 Cast

Teresa/Pavla - Maddy Fallier
Grandmother Melia - Darcy Gridley
Hans/Jan - Jordan Gascamp
Anna - Bonny Karstedt
Katrina Krause - Judy Vire
Otilia - Rochelle Tyler
Mrs Von Siegel - Ruth Partridge
Von Siegel / Gerald - John Bradley
Uncle Frantz - Ken Powell
Dance Captain/Aneska - Maureen Duke
Vlad/dance - Iowa Hawkins
Joseph Psencik - Dick Frenzel
Samuel/Dancer - Jacob McClurg
Chorus/Hilda - Amy Kirkland
Chorus/Luda - Ellen Eberhardt
Chorus/ Dancer - Cole Neese
Chorus/Dancer - Brittany Gallaher
Chorus/Dancer - Michael Fosha
Chorus/Dancer - Shelby Deen
Chorus/Dancer - Faith Kalmus
Chorus/Dancer - Daniel Fondell
Chorus - Dawn Givan
Chorus - Debbie Matula
Mala Anna - Maddie Benbenek
Tomas - Daxton Givan
Child/Chorus - Avery Diggs
Child/Chorus - Tory Borgstedte
Child/Chorus - Zoe Hill
Child/Chorus - Anna Haynes
Child/Chorus - Trey Smith
Child/Chorus - Madelyn Karstedt
Child/Chorus - Asher Bradley
Child/Chorus - Railla Bradley



Bethany White
will direct and choreograph the production. She is living and working in New York as a dance instructor and director. She has numerous theater and dance productions, as well as film and video performances on her resume.
She is thrilled to be returning to La Grange for a second season with Heart of the Tin Trunk.

Ike Webster, a native of Gainsville, GA, is pleased to be joining the 2012 crew as Music Director of Heart of the Tin Trunk. He has a strong background in Musical Theater, Opera, Musical Direction, Composition and Education. His various gigs have taken Ike across the country and back, though this will be his first stint in Texas.

Dick Smith, composer, musician, songwriter, singer and artist is lyricist and composer. Dick has an incredibly long resume in the entertainment and advertising industry, having served as creative director and partner in several of Houston's more prestigious ad agencies, having written and produced hundreds of award-winning radio and TV commercials. As a performer, he has played to sell-out crowds at Festival Hill, The Bugle Boy, and various other local venues.

Mickey Burdick - Heart of the Tin Trunk, the original 2011 musical with sell-out performances, will be back this summer at Festival Hill with new executive director Mickey Burdick. Burdick received his BFA in Acting and Directing from the University of Arizona (Arizona Repertory Theatre.) Mickey is a member of AEA, and his stage experience has taken him across the country, having worked out of New York, Los Angeles, and everywhere in between on various tours. In addition to his work with Heart of the Tin Trunk, Mickey also serves as the Artistic Director of Thin Air Theatre Company in Colorado.

The original play is based on writings by Virginia Mika Leech, a native of La Grange who became fascinated with the account of her ancestors' voyage.  Encouraged by professors and other theatre professionals, her story became a drama with music...then evolved into a musical. Co-producer, Ed Leech, considers the play a major hightlight of a lifetime, associating with so many wonderfully talented people and working with them to make Heart of the Tin Trunk a success

Backstage, Inc., the Fine Arts Council for South Central Texas, presents Heart of the Tin Trunk. Its activities, well known in Fayette County for over 30 years, have included live community theatre, troupe presentations, children's workshops. President Nita Tiemann leads the umbrella organization for Heart of the Tin Trunk.

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