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NEWPORT NEWS – In the fall of 1971, Mr. Peter Mertz, Hampton Roads Academy’s Headmaster, made his college acting debut in the role of FBI agent, Ike, in the first ever production of My Piece of Pie. This unknown gem penned by independent film director, screenwriter and author John Sayles during his Williams College days, tells the depression-era story of small-time hood, Silk Finelli and his quest to be Public Enemy number one, so he can wed his vivacious chorus girl sweetheart.
My Piece of Pie is especially close to Mertz. Since that original production in 1971, this work has seen the stage only two other times. First, at The Albany Academy in 1982 (Albany, NY), and then at Brookwood School in 1995 (Thomasville, GA), both directed by Mr. Mertz. Each performance of My Piece of Pie renews his admiration for a work that was written to be a “one off” lark, but which has stood the test of time.
Mertz is currently working as the Assistant Director and enjoys working with the students everyday on blocking and characterization. The students find his knowledge of the play and its historical perspective useful in their interpretations of plot and character.
As headmaster, Mertz is busy and involved in multiple aspects of the school, but shares that the importance of his role in the production of My Piece of Pie is celebrated by the entire HRA community: “Anytime I can interact with the students it’s better for me to understand the true essence of the school, as well as the personalities and needs of the students.”
Mertz celebrates the incredible commitment of the faculty at HRA for their involvement with students outside of the classroom and he believes “it is important to uphold that measure of dedication.”
Mertz’s devotion to the theatre, and his obligation to the students is epitomized in his role as Assistant Director, acknowledging that My Piece of Pie is “a piece of art that is very worthwhile that otherwise would drift into obscurity.”
If you love the musicals, Guys-n- Dolls and Nice Work If You Can Get It, you’ll love the Hotsy Totsy Club, The Chorines who perform there, Silk’s gang, their molls and every fun-filled slice of My Piece Of Pie!
Come join the gang at My Piece Of Pie on Fridays and Saturdays, November 18 & 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Hampton Roads Academy. All tickets sold at the door! For more information, call 757-884- 9139 or visit www.hra.org.
Submitted by Charlotte McMahon
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