The Garden Theatre’s first musical of 2020 runs from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9.
While seeking out a minister to heal a scar on her face, one woman discovers the meaning of inner beauty.
That’s the story behind the Garden Theatre’s latest production, “Violet,” opening this weekend and running until Feb. 9. The folk musical will take audiences back to 1964 Appalachia to tell the story of a young woman named Violet as she embarks on a pilgrimage to change her future.
As a child, Violet was struck by a stray axe blade when her father was chopping wood. The horrible accident left a visible scar on her face, and she spends a decade on the search for a doctor who can heal the scar the axe left behind, but to no avail. Her last hope is to visit a minister many miles away to see if he can heal her disfigurement. This upcoming musical tells the story of Violet’s cross-country journey in the hopes of being healed — and how she discovers the meaning of true beauty along the way.
“She’s discovering who she is,” said Holli Trisler, who plays Violet as an adult. “She’s learning how to accept herself, how to love herself, how to forgive her father for some things that she’s held onto for a long time and discovering what real beauty really means. … Everyone has scars and Violet’s is out there for everyone to see, but really, her true scar is inward. It’s learning to deal with loving who she is and learning to deal with forgiving her father for the accident. Her true healing comes from inside.”
As a musical set in the American South during the 1960s, the show also deals with some of the racial issues of that time period. One of the characters that Violet meets on her journey is a black soldier named Flick who ends up teaching her about prejudice, said Caiti Fallon, who plays young Violet in the show.
“It also deals with some of the prejudices that Violet doesn’t know she has toward him and having to learn that he’s also just like her — except his (struggle) isn’t necessarily a scar but it’s the fact that he’s African-American and he’s really trying just to get by like any white person in the time period,” Fallon said. “It’s very much about Flick’s journey too. … It’s about them learning that they’re not as different as they think they are.”
“Violet and Flick end up connecting well because they both understand what it means to be judged by your appearance,” Trisler added. “For Flick it’s his skin color (and) for Violet it’s her scar.”
Both Fallon and Trisler weren’t very familiar with the musical before getting involved with the Garden Theatre’s production of it, but Fallon previously has been exposed to one of the show’s songs. During the Garden Theatre’s 2019 Encore fundraiser, Fallon performed one of the songs from “Violet” onstage at the event.
“I actually got introduced to ‘Violet’ through the (Encore) gala with Chita Rivera,” Fallon said. “I got the opportunity to sing ‘On My Way’ from ‘Violet,’ which is one of the more notable numbers from the show. … Getting to be a part of it and getting to tell this story is just incredible for me.”
“I knew very little about it before I was cast,” Trisler said. “I had heard some of the music before and thought it was beautiful, but I didn’t really know a whole lot in-depth (in terms) of the theme, the issues that it deals with (and) the story that it tells. … Reading through the script and listening to the music more, it really blew me away how beautiful of a story it is. It’s not very well-known — this musical — but I’m so thankful that the Garden was brave enough to put it on, because it really is a powerful story that needs to be told.”