​​​​​​​IN LOVE WITH THE ARROW COLLAR MAN to Make Winston-Salem Debut

By: Sep. 25, 2019
​​​​​​​IN LOVE WITH THE ARROW COLLAR MAN to Make Winston-Salem Debut A bold new drama about pioneering 20th-century artist and illustrator J.C. Leyendecker and his lover-muse, America's first male sex symbol, will have its Southern premiere at the famed Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem.

In Love with the Arrow Collar Man will be staged in two performances at Reynolda House, opening on Friday, October 11 at 7:00 PM. The second performance will take place on Saturday, October 12 at 2:00 PM. It will be preceded by a conversation for Reynolda members only with the playwright, Lance Ringel, at 1:00 PM, interviewed by Phil Archer, Reynolda House's Deputy Director. A brief Q&A will follow. The production is an artistic partnership between Reynolda House and The Little Theatre of Winston-Salem. Both performances are sponsored by Wells Fargo.

This special Southern premiere of the acclaimed New York show is a high point of the four-month-long celebration titled "Leyendecker and the Golden Age of American Illustration," with many of the artist's works on exhibit at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. Reynolda House is located at 2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.

Tickets are $20 and are available via the Reynolda House website by clicking here. The show runs 90 minutes. It deals with mature themes; those under 16 will not be admitted. Guests are invited to explore the exhibition "Leyendecker and the Golden Age of American Illustration" prior to showtime.

The historical drama In Love with the Arrow Collar Man by Lance Ringel examines the lives of the pioneering 20th-century American illustrator Joseph C. Leyendecker (1874-1951) and his model, muse and life partner, Charles Beach. Arrow Collar Man recounts the true story of a gay male couple whose colorful lives and taboo-breaking work together spanned nearly half a century.

"I am honored to attend the Southern premiere of my play," said Ringel. "I believe The Little Theatre and Reynolda House saw in the life of J.C. Leyendecker the same elements that struck me: a visionary artistry, a defiance in living authentically, and his pioneering instinct to transform the love of his life, Charles Beach, into an international icon - in fact, the first advertising sex symbol. Indeed, Leyendecker's life offers numerous insights for contemporary audiences."

"I find myself in the enviable position of directing a marvelous play based on the life of one of my favorite artists, J.C. Leyendecker," said Mark Pirolo, director of the production. "The playwright, Lance Ringel, has done a remarkable job providing us with an intimate and compelling glimpse into the world of Joe Leyendecker, Charles Beach, Joe's siblings and the various famous folk they meet and interact with. The talented cast and I must now rise to the challenge of bringing to life a story that spans almost 50 years in the life of this brilliant and all but forgotten artist."

Leyendecker's immense popularity came primarily from his 322 covers for the Saturday Evening Post, as well as for the use of his art in advertising - most notably the Arrow Collar Man, with Beach as the original model. This play explores the challenge of balancing love, art and commerce at a time when homosexuality was a crime, and how Leyendecker achieved an unlikely triumph on all fronts. Arrow Collar Man also chronicles Leyendecker's relationships with two fellow artists: his talented but self-destructive brother Frank; and Norman Rockwell, the calculating protégé who would eventually surpass him in fame.

The cast of the Southern premiere of In Love with the Arrow Collar Man includes:

  • Brian Joyce as Joe (J.C.) Leyendecker
  • Jackson Mattek as Charles Beach
  • Latimer Alexander as Frank Leyendecker
  • Mary Lea Dominick as Augusta Mary Leyendecker
  • Lane Fields as Norman Rockwell
  • Acy Jackson as Texas Guinan
  • Jason Lagesse as Walter Winchell
  • Robbie Grier as Louis Metcalfe
  • Mary Margaret Coble as Phyllis Frederic and The Letter Writers
  • John Hohn as Pops Frederic
  • Tim Austin as Manolo
  • And Christine Gorelick as The Art Teacher

Director Mark Pirolo has been active in theater for almost forty years as a designer, director, playwright, and actor. Pirolo served on the design and production faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for 32 years and spent two seasons as Executive Director of The Little Theatre. He has directed many productions there, including Evita, Look Homeward Angel, The Glass Menagerie, and Man Of La Mancha.


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