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Charlie Hensley: Reviews

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer

When it comes to wish fulfillment, the Walnut Street Theatre Company's production of The Normal Heart is more than I either counted on or deserved. It is that good... no one who sees it will remain unmoved.

The production... is one of the best accounts of any play, old or new, that we are likely to see in this town for a long time. The director, Charlie Hensley, and his cast do honor to the play... There is not a weak performance in the production.
William B. Collins - Philadelphia Inquirer
An unsurpassable production... Charlie Hensley, who created something of a sensation last year with his staging of She Also Dances... finds the right dramatic tempo for Kramer's play and builds the action from one shattering climax to another... To single out any actor is perhaps unfair to a cast characterized by its close ensemble interaction.
Robert Baxter - Courier-Post
For the serious theatregoer, it represents that standard of excellence we hope to find in every production. For the more infrequent theatre-goer, The Normal Heart is that dramatic event that should not be missed...

Distinguished by imaginative staging and... the finest ensemble of gifted actors on a Philadelphia stage this season. Charlie Hensley's direction is both passionate and impeccable. You should see it twice. It's really that good.
Bill Royston - After Dark
A searing production... Charlie Hensley deserves a lot of credit for tapping into the power in Heart... to produce a shattering theatrical experience... His staging is as fine as the New York production, and it's even more emotionally involving.
Dan Hulbert - Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

The Walnut Street Theatre counts eight productions of Twelfth Night in less than 150 years. I wonder if any has caught so effectively, as this one does, the topsy-turvy world Shakespeare created.

Director Charlie Hensley unfurls this comic masterpiece like a flag in a stormy breeze. The actors don't just impersonate their characters. They live them with vigor and intensity... Milton Duke's set - a giant rope lattice set off by ornate columns and a sunburst backdrop - lets the director achieve breathless pacing.
Robert Baxter - Courier-Post
Hensley, probably the most consistently creative, inventive and daring director working Philadelphia stages... has put together a top-notch production... His direction was both light and firm, a sign of a director who is supremely confident in his material and his cast... I can't praise this production highly enough. It's well-directed, beautifully designed, wonderfully acted and incredibly funny. Kudos and congratulations are in order to Charlie Hensley...
Gary L. Day - PGN
There is not a bad thing to be said about the play, its cast, the direction, the music or the set. All fit together to make for an evening of theatre [that] seems to fly by in an instant. Directed by Charlie Hensley, the performance held the audience spellbound.
Judy Baca - Times-Herald
Charlie Hensley has put this together with intelligence and affection.. Hensley's style here is a cross between a lilt and a twinkle... The utter absence of declamation gives the production a delicious naturalness, and the players look happy as larks about it.
Nels Nelson - Philadelphia Daily News
Pay no attention to the groundhogs! With the Virginia Stage Company's exuberant and thoroughly elegant production of Twelfth Night, spring is officially here. Housed amid garden walks winding through greenery, this familiar Shakespearean comedy of drunken revelry and gender-bending romance is given a merry, and quite comfortable, outing... the cast seems to be comfortable enough with its art to romp.

And the emphasis is put exactly where it belongs - on the language... Leave Twelfth Night alone and let it breathe, and all the laughs are there. That, delightfully, is exactly what happens with this production.

Charlie Hensley's direction has effectively tied together the many disparate facets of this production into a cajoling whole. The production moves sprightly, but is never rushed. The use of the language is crisp and clear. There is no reason that every line of this Twelfth Night cannot be easily digested.

...VSC scores a triumph here.
Mal Vincent - The Virginian-Pilot
It is lively, pretty and sexy... director Charlie Hensley has successfully milked it for every bit of lascivious innuendo. Hensley, who chose a beautiful 18th century garden for his setting, cast the show perfectly... Shows like this one will make Shakespeare lovers of us all.
Jim Roberts - Albemarle Life

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

In a visceral grip of pity and terror, the Virginia Stage Company audience watched in stunned, unblinking silence as the kindly gentleman psychiatrist and his masochistic nurse lead Blanche DuBois away to the mental hospital at the end of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

Charlie Hensley lovingly directs this potent work... this production was stirring.
D.D. Delaney - PortFolio Weekly
...The larger risk is to mount a great play that everyone knows and has an opinion about. With this stellar version of A Streetcar Named Desire, the risk pays dividends in wrenching emotion.
James MacKillop - Syracuse News-Times
Virginia Stage Company's treatment of A Streetcar Named Desire, with Charlie Hensley making his debut at directing Tennessee Williams, proves to be no stranger. The approach is careful and reverential. A faithful recreation of this American masterpiece...
Mal Vincent - The Virginian-Pilot

Sea Marks by Gardner McKay

Like a good book on a chilly winter evening, Sea Marks warms the heart and carries its audience to a faraway place...

Under the guidance of Charlie Hensley, the pace of the play moves slowly and beautifully. Like a wave approaching land, the relationship between the two characters starts slowly, gradually intensifies, then crashes on the shore.
Dave Nicholson - Daily Press
This is by far the most sophisticated directorial effort yet from Charlie Hensley, who misses nary a nuance of chuckle or storm… a bang-up job for drama, romance, the sea, and poetry.
Robert P. Arthur - PortFolio Weekly

Hosanna by Michel Tremblay

It is rare to see a commercial production of a play like Hosanna in New York. Happily, this production is not only rare, it's well done.

The play is entertaining, perceptive and engrossing, and it builds to a touching resolution. Charlie Hensley has directed with a light but sure hand, keeping the positive underpinnings of the protagonists' relationship not far beneath the surface during all but the most venomous exchanges, and not allowing the evening to degenerate into melodrama.
Roy Sander - Backstage
[The actors] listen. Under Charlie Hensley's direction, they are not afraid to stop talking either, and they fill pauses with action and with thought, too. We believe them because their words have the weight of fully imagined experience behind them.
Michael Paller - Outweek
A first-rate production... In addition to the precision and subtlety of Tremblay's script, much of the credit goes to Charlie Hensley for his sensitive direction and for eliciting a shrewd restraint from both actors.
David Kaufman - Downtown

Broadway Bound by Neil Simon

Like the heartwarming and heartbreaking script, everything about Charlie Hensley's Alliance Theatre staging reaches out to grab or hug you. Even Robert Odorisio's warm bilevel set of a late 1940's Brooklyn house seems to surround you as it comes together in sections that roll downstage and rise from the orchestra pit. It invites us to become eavesdroppers in a circle of universal family... The acting and staging are superb.
Dan Hulbert - Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Director Charlie Hensley has come home to the Alliance with a hit. His direction is evident in the smooth, flowing performance... filled with dramatic confrontations as well as humor... Putting the house together piece by piece filled the audience with wonder.
Yvette Loury - Tuesday Magazine
...One gets the feeling of peering into the Jerome family's home in Brighton Beach rather than being in an audience at a play... The family is splitting up and leaving just as you're wishing they would stay so you could see more.
Elizabeth Lee - Daily News

Falsettos by William Finn & James Lapine

Director Charlie Hensley skillfully leads these fine singer-actors through the sparkling action of the piece with a delicate hand. Not a nuance is missed. He leaves time for a few tears, and there are many moments of emotional gravity. He also uses a jaunty, razzle-dazzle 'em approach in the moments of joy and fun, and there are an abundance of these. It's exactly as it should be...

See this show. Even if you hate, loathe and despise that evil Tinkie Winkie, I promise you will love, honor and adore Falsettos.
Edgar Loessin - NPR
With a tenderhearted passion that most musicals wouldn't dare try, it is surely one of the most intimate, timely and moving presentations at VSC.

Charlie Hensley has directed a fine ensemble cast in a manner that pleasingly avoids asking for either poignancy or humor -- but achieves both.
Mal Vincent - The Virginian-Pilot
The show is wonderful. That's all.

Director Charlie Hensley has given us a labor of love in this production, turning whatever fear of risk he must have felt at the outset into a delicately unfolding triumph of heart.

Helping Hensley in no small measure is a dream cast of New York singing actors who blend so well into Falsettoland that it's hard to imagine they have offstage lives. Best of all, they compose a true ensemble, each one strong, no one overshadowing.
D.D. Delaney - PortFolio Weekly

Alfred Stieglitz Loves O'Keeffe by Lanie Robertson

Virginia Stage Company has the biggest success of its current season on display... an unparalleled, mesmerizing love story of two extraordinary people.

Thanks to Charlie Hensley's delicately orchestrated direction, the scenes of their lives open and close with fluid sensuality, like the petals of O'Keeffe's famous flowers.

Well, I loved Alfred Stieglitz Loves O'Keeffe.
Edgar Loessin - NPR
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