Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Shenandoah Pizza/Shenandoah Hops

I just got back from another Staunton jaunt and I had the pleasure of eating at Shenandoah Pizza. While the pizza is the best you will find anywhere, my favorite food item is the wings. Owner John Huggins makes sure to get the meatiest, highest quality wings and offers several different sauces: barbecue, hot, XX hot, naked, and General Tso's. Johnnie told me to look out for a new flavor soon, an Eastern Carolina barbecue sauce called Fab-bu-lous Sauce that he will be offering soon. I had a party with some of the actors at the American Shakespeare Center back in January and ordered 100 wings from Shenandoah Pizza of different varieties. The wings were a huge hit with everyone at the party (and an extra thanks to Johnnie for throwing in some extras). We all like using Shenandoah Pizza's pizza sauce (the best I've ever had) as the dipping sauce.

Shenandoah Pizza recently began offering gluten free wraps. My wife is very gluten intolerant and has been forced to adopt a gluten-free lifestyle. She has eaten the gluten free wraps twice and thinks they are wonderful. The first one she had was the Club Staunton; it features ham, smoked turkey, and bacon. The second one was the Sears Hill, named for a Staunton landmark. That wrap is a turkey, bacon, Swiss, and ranch, though rather than ranch she opted for the pizza sauce. Shenandoah Pizza also offers gluten free pizzas, though we have yet to try them. Another of my favorite items are the cheese breadsticks, the finest I have ever had. If they would just start making those gluten free as well I'd be a very happy camper.

Huggins also owns nearby Shenandoah Hops with his wonderful wife Cheryl. Hops is a place with an amazing selection of beers and many locally made/owned products. It's always worth stopping in to see what's new. I especially like the locally made soaps he stocks. Johnnie is also a concert festival promoter and brings jazz, blues, country, and bluegrass festivals to the Valley throughout the year. In short, Huggins is a great guy and a big time community leader and I like to call him "the hardest working man in Staunton." So, if you want the best wings and pizza east of the Mississippi, stop in at Shenandoah Pizza and don't forget to shop at Hops.

The Country Wife

Grant Davis as Harcourt, Abbi Hawk as Alithea, and Chris Johnston as Sparkish in The Country Wife. / Courtesy of ASC/Lauren D. Rogers.
The Country Wife, a play by William Wycherley, is a play tailor-made for the ASC's Actors' Renaissance Season (and the ASC period). It is a bawdy, humorous, sexual innuendo fest that the actors push to the limit and wring out every ounce of laughter from the crowds. This was by far my favorite production of the Ren Season, and while very long for a comedy, it is a terrific play.

Benjamin Curns devilishly plays the lead role, Harry Horner, a man who seeks to place horns on as many men as possible. In order to score even more with the women of town and country, Horner has a quack doctor (played by a well rested Rene Thornton, Jr.- seems like he has hours between scenes) spread rumors that Horner is impotent thanks to a trip to France. Daniel Kennedy, playing Sir Jasper Fidget, takes special delight in heckling Horner concerning his supposed malady. Kennedy is brilliant in his comic mannerisms. Little does he know that he's being cuckolded as Horner pursues Fidget's wife, played by the amazing Allison Glenzer, and his sister Dainty Fidget (Ronald Peet in drag with blonde wig), and their friend Mistress Squeamish (the delightful Sarah Fallon). The main object of Horner's affections is Margery Pinchwife (a wonderful performance by Tracie Thomason- the oranges scene will be long remembered in Staunton), the naive wife of John Harrell's Jack Pinchwife. Harrell, of course does a splendid job as the soon to be cuckolded Pinchwife.

Chris Johnston and Abbi Hawk are the show stealers of this production. Johnston as the "Pshaw!" blaring fop Sparkish and Hawk as Pinchwife's sister and Sparkish's fiancee Alithea who falls for Horner's friend Frank Harcourt (a charming performance by Grant Davis). Hawk has great comic timing and has hilarious facial expressions (she was especially funny during set changes). Johnston is always excellent in roles like this and he definitely delivers in this production all the way down to his costume choices (his white, pink topped dress shoes are amazing). Another personal favorite performance was Gregory Jon Phelps as Old Lady Squeamish, the grandmother of Mistress Squeamish. The mannerisms were perfect for an offended old lady and the one time I sat on stage for this production I was moved off of my stool with a cane shot.

I saw this production three times and wish I had seen it more. The play definitely grew on me, and by the third performance it had become one of my top ten non-Shakespeare ASC productions. Several of the people I regularly see at the Blackfriars told me it was their favorite production and were surprised at how much they liked it. Hopefully we'll get the chance to see it again someday.