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  • Writer's pictureMoriah Joy

Final Weekend of The Ribbon Mill at Little Theatre of Norfolk

Words by Moriah Joy. Images by J Stubbs Photography.

It’s no secret that the Hampton Roads area is a huge military hub with not only active military but also many veterans who have made this area their home. With so many people impacted by the military, the arts community often reflects these walks of life. “The Ribbon Mill” written by local playwright and veteran, Jim Esposito, explores the dynamics of war time and family during the World War II era. This play seeks to explore how war often affects those who are left behind while left to deal with the atrocities of war off of the battlefield.

I had the opportunity to get the thoughts of the cast and crew on this show before getting a chance to view this unique piece of theatre. Sydney Powell, who plays Anita Turlington, had this to say about the relevance of this piece, “Growing up in this area, I think we all have a connection to the military or armed services. My dad was a naval pilot so I think a lot of us have grown up with a respect for or familiarity with that world. So it doesn’t make a difference whether we’re sitting in the 1940’s or are here [in the present]… those emotions and feelings of waiting for family to come home or worry about things that could happen.”

One of the most intriguing portions about this show are the layers of the relationships. The complexities reflected in the characters and their interactions with one another, leave the audience guessing who they can trust.

Rick Hamblin, who plays the seedy foreman at the Ribbon Mill best explained the difficulty of approaching his character beautifully, “It’s easy for an actor to judge their character but that judgment if the actor’s not careful that judgment can come through in the performance… I have to play Bill’s truth”

Many people may not be aware that “The Ribbon Mill” was originally supposed to premiere at MacArthur Mall last summer, and due to unforeseen circumstances, was no longer able to be produced there. Director Kathy Strouse and writer Jim Esposito worked hard to get the show mounted and were able to find a home at the Little Theatre of Norfolk.Their determination is partly due to the fact that part of the proceeds from the production go to benefit The Hope House, which helps adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities obtain independent housing.

This also plays into the show in a subtle way as KC, played by Ryan Jennings, has to navigate living with his sisters and trying to understand the world despite his disabilities. Ryan described KC the best as a “sensitive guy, child-like, sweet, pure character… He has some very endearing qualities” adding to the dynamic of a world that is thrown into chaos and having to navigate tumultuous circumstances.

One of KC’s sisters, Mary Ruth, played by Melissa Maniglia, really acts as the mother figure who does her best to keep KC and their sister Patsy out of trouble. Melissa said that she enjoys the family dynamic of the show and interacting with the other characters, which was very clear in her grounded performance. Jessi DiPette, who plays Patsy, said, “I think what’s so fun about playing Patsy is that she's very independent- maybe to a fault.”

You won’t want to miss this engaging show. The final performances are this weekend April 1st through April 3rd. In addition to helping the Hope House, ticket purchases for the Ribbon Mill offer you a $5 off coupon for the upcoming show Curious Savage or the upcoming season at Little Theatre of Norfolk.

For ticket sales and more information please visit

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