Romantic Comedy about a Strong, Brave Woman

Romantic Comedy about a Strong, Brave Woman

CFTC presents ‘The Heiress of Hawtrey Hall’

Michael Kelley (as Lord Dennington), Sam Beeson (as Lord Walcott), Rose Hahn (as Miss Coventry) Michael Hammond (as Mr. Mullens), Victoria Jungck (as Lady Eleanor), and Mattie Cohan (as Lady Agnes), by Heather Regan Photography

Michael Kelley (as Lord Dennington), Sam Beeson (as Lord Walcott), Rose Hahn (as Miss Coventry) Michael Hammond (as Mr. Mullens), Victoria Jungck (as Lady Eleanor), and Mattie Cohan (as Lady Agnes), by Heather Regan Photography

A romantic comedy set in early 1800s England, “The Heiress of Hawtrey Hall” is City of Fairfax Theatre Co.’s (CFTC) upcoming play. Written and directed by Ellen Dean Price, it features a cast and crew of 15 who’ve been rehearsing since January.

It’s about heiress Grace Coventry and her attempt to protect both her inheritance and financial independence now that she’s come of age. And although she faces an uphill battle, she acquires an unlikely but clever ally during her quest.

It’s Price’s third produced play and will debut during Fairfax City’s Spotlight on the Arts festival. Show times are Thursday-Friday, May 2-3, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 4, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, May 5, at 2 p.m., at Old Town Hall, 3999 University Drive in Fairfax. Tickets are $25, adults; $20, students, via

“Grace’s parents died and left her their estate; but in that time period, it was rare for a woman to inherit,” explained Price. “And if she married, everything she owned would go to her husband. So Grace wants to stay unmarried – but her aunt and cousin are upset about it because it wasn’t the norm then to remain that way. So they foist an unexpected house party on the unsuspecting heiress to introduce her to possible suitors.”

Rose Hahn (as Miss Coventry), Victoria Jungck (as Lady Eleanor), Mattie Cohan (as Lady Agnes) and Michael Hammond (as Mr. Mullens)


Calling the play funny and light, Price said it’s perfect for a date night or a fun girls’ night out and is recommended for ages 10 and up. “It’s about thinking about what you really want in life – and reevaluating it, along the way,” she said. “We have a very talented cast. Our experienced actors are a joy to work with and have great chemistry among them.”

“CFTC is a great organization and it’s a thrill to work with everyone here,” she continued. “I’ve acted with CFTC before, but this is my first time directing one of their productions. The venue has limited seating, so I advise people to buy their tickets ahead. It’s a classic romantic play, and audiences will have a fun time at the theater.”

Portraying Grace is Rose Hahn. “She’s 21 – right on the edge of being a spinster then,” said Hahn. “She’s intelligent, fiercely independent and stubborn, and also a thoughtful, loving person. Her parents died when she was a preteen, and then her aunt whisked her away to London and raised her there. But she’d grown up in Hawtrey Hall, where her father was the lord, and he’d trained her to become the estate’s heiress because she was an only child.”

At the party, said Hahn, “Grace is reluctantly meeting suitors but doesn’t want to marry because she likes her independence. She also doesn’t like societal pressures requiring her to act a certain way. She’d rather read a book about agriculture than talk about boys. And she hasn’t yet met a man who can match her intellect.”

Hahn likes playing Grace because “she values similar things to me. I’m also an independent, nerdy person who values intelligence. And watching her develop confidence in her convictions is really inspiring to me. She’s witty, clever and quick-thinking and speaks her mind.

“It’s challenging to show the two sides of her when she has to put on airs to be in society. And you can see the difference when she’s doing that, and when she’s showing who she really is, including some insecurities. She’s a layered and complex human being – which I think is really lovely and exactly the kind of female character the world needs right now.”

Hahn said audiences will enjoy this play’s romantic and comedic aspects, plus the journey of a woman “finding her way in a world that’s telling her to take a specific, narrow path, instead of the one she’d choose for herself. People will like its feminism, too, and it’s also a positive and hopeful story.” She noted, as well, that the interior of Old Town Hall becomes Hawtrey Hall for this show, and the characters will wear “beautiful, authentic, period costumes.”

Furthermore, added Hahn, “Ellen and the entire ensemble are so dedicated and talented, and they’re putting all their passion into bringing the story and characters to life. It makes the process of putting on this show so much better, and that’s my favorite part.”

Michael Hammond plays John Mullens, who grew up in the local village in the countryside outside London. He’s now a steward working at Hawtrey Hall and managing its accounts and land. “Although he’s a realist, he’s also an optimist with a quiet, joyful confidence and is hopeful within his social class,” said Hammond. “He brings a nice levity to a proper environment.” 

“He’s honest and direct, with no pretense, and has a good sense of humor,” continued Hammond. “Every time a suitor enters the estate, Mullens talks about him with Grace afterward and listens to her thoughts about him. They’re very at ease with each other and can chat easily together. No topic is off limits, and they can be their real selves around each other.”

Hammond said it’s a wonderful role for him because there are many similarities between Mullens’s personality and his own. He’s also enjoying it because “the play is funny and – since I’m onstage almost the whole time – I get to see the suitors and Grace’s family being ridiculous. Mullens is more confident than I am in real life, so it’s fun to inhabit a character who says lines that are bolder than I usually do and speaks his mind.”

Hammond believes audience members will see a bit of themselves in every single character. “Each one is so unique and funny in their own way that people will connect with and root for different ones at different times. And I think that’s a sign of a well-written play. There’s a heroine, but the other characters support her on her journey. The humor is silly, but the story is one where you want to know what happens next.”