One of the goals of Richmond Shakes is to make the classics the most accessible…
Actors Scott Wichmann and Eva DeVirgilis – married in 2016 – jumped at the opportunity to perform their own show for the Richmond Performing Arts Alliance’s 2021 Legends on Grace series when the organization pitched the concept of Mister and Mrs. Showtime to the couple.
“The opportunity to work with my wife is one that I couldn’t pass up. We have the chance to create a show that speaks to what has been going on this last year and how we have dealt with it,” says Scott who appeared with Eva before the entertainers married in 2015, in the Neil Simon comedy, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, produced by Virginia Rep.
The show will live stream on February 6 and will explore how the couple met and get along as a couple. “We are always making up silly little songs and we tell lots of stories,” Scott says.
The show will combine Scott’s bread-and-butter standards — think Frank Sinatra and the likes — with comedic songs, comedy, and songs that mean a lot to the couple such as Something Stupid by Nancy Sinatra. Scott appeared as Mr. Showman in 2019 at Richmond Triangle Players.
“We’ll add a fun element of pre-pandemic Generation X nostalgia, and we’ll look at what’s to come in 2021. We’ll look ahead to a new world and the lessons we have learned,” says Eva. “It will be funny, and we’ll be shedding some tears.”
Working Together During a Pandemic
Because of the pandemic, the couple has had to shift gears and make changes when it comes to their careers. “My speaking engagements turned to a virtual platform. I diversified as an artist,” says Eva, who toured the world with her solo show In My Chair and adapted it for the Richmond stage in 2019.
Both Eva and Scott enjoy live interaction whether it is in person or through a virtual platform and would like to incorporate that into their show. “We want to be able to find a way to ask the audience questions. We want to have people deliver things to us that we can repeat during the show. Eva has lots of experience with creating an authentic connection over a virtual platform. We are going to leverage that.”
Both actors have a quick wit and a keen sense for comedy, especially improv, which will be featured in one of the songs they perform in the show. “You make it up at the moment,” Eva says. “We are excited about doing that interaction.”
Jacqueline O’Connor, programming and marketing coordinator for RPAA, sees the couple as two very funny people “separately and together,” she says. “They genuinely love, appreciate and respect each other.”
She’s happy to have both performing in the show. “Scott is a warm and giving performer. He appreciates all genres of music, and he’s a brilliant writer. Eva is a legend in her own right. She is a diverse, talented actor. She’s written her own shows and traveled the world with her show.”
Enriching Lives During a Pandemic
While this may be the couple’s first performance together for the series, Scott kicked off the Legends on Grace series with Let Me Be Frank in 2018. The next year, he performed in RVA Rat Pack.
“The idea behind the series was to feature Richmond artists who are so talented and could work anywhere in the world, but choose to work here,” says O’Connor.
The series went virtual last year when COVID-19 basically shut down the entertainment industry. “We had to figure a way to keep people working and uplift our community,” says O’Connor. “The arts give us an opportunity to heal the community.”
Artists were delighted to create one-hour segments for the series. “There were no limits to what they could do,” O’Connor says. “Once again, they stepped up in ways I never expected.”
Scott and Eva want to make their show fun for everyone. “We are both those kids that watched Romper Room (the children’s show aired from 1953 to 1994),” says Scott.
The show featured a magic mirror at the end of the broadcast with the question “Did all my friends have fun at play?”
“We want to look through the magic mirror and see who they saw. We want to give people that thrill too,” Scott says.
The couple is trying to narrow down the songs in the hour-long show. “It’s all about deciding on the feeling you want to achieve,” Scott says. “We will joke about something, and we say let’s write that down. The show will be a distillation of the whole time we have been together.”
He believes that if he and Eva had a show on television, it would be a variety show like The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour featuring sketches and songs.
“We were raised on television and all of the performers in the 1960s and 70s in showbiz who had long careers,” Scott says. “Eva said when she was a little girl she had a crush on comedian Milton Berle. I was a newsie at the age of thirteen and someone ‘said doesn’t he look like a young Miltie.’ I think we were meant to be.”