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Hampton Roads playwright’s new work receiving international recognition

After six successful performances in fall 2022, Ricardo Melendez’s new play Angel on Eros will return to Hampton Roads for an encore run this month. The production will subsequently be presented at three theater festivals domestically and abroad.

Melendez is well-known in Hampton Roads cultural arts and circles and the LGBTQ+ community. He is the founder and producing director for Actors’ Workshop of Virginia, as well as Artistic Director of Virginia Ballet Theatre and Associate Artistic Director of Todd Rosenlieb Dance in Norfolk.

He debuted Angel on Eros locally in the fall of 2022.

Last month, Angel on Eros received an online feature by BroadwayWorld ahead of the play’s mounting at New York City’s Fresh Fruit Festival.

In recognition of the play’s merits, the Irish Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts has awardedAngel on Eros the top bursary prize to support its travel to, and presentation at, the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

Before these touring engagements, Angel on Eros will present a pair of special benefit performances at Norfolk’s own Benjack Studio Theatre. Via these performances, a Hampton Roads Pride-sponsored champagne reception, and a dedicated GoFundMe campaign, local arts lovers can support the miscellaneous expenses of taking an independent play on tour: hiring stage managers and lighting designers in other cities, getting the word out in tour locations, et cetera.

“I am humbled by the support the Community has always shown me,” Melendez said. “My students’ success at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Old Dominion University have filled me with joy. My commitment to lead by example and bring pride to our community through the arts strengthens my efforts. Help me in sharing Angel on Eros with the world; Help us represent Hampton Roads and join with pride in our success.”

Angel on Eros tells the story of Angel, a fortysomething gay Hispanic painter with a serious case of “painter’s block.” Matt is a naïve, straight restaurateur discouraged by the boredom of his daily routine—and by a marriage that has swallowed his identity. As both men search for an escape from their present circumstances, an unlikely friendship develops, leading Angel and Matt to confront unexpected consequences of their wishes and desires.

While Matt is enamored by Angel’s paintings of him, Angel finds himself inspired by the new spark igniting his artistic work. A sexual encounter blurs the lines of friendship and introduces untold chaos into their connection. When that encounter is threatened with public exposure, Matt must decide whether or not to continue on his journey of half-truths. Angel discovers his truth as a painter—and as a flawed man. Is the beauty of art always worth the risk of a lost gamble?


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