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  • Writer's picturePress Release

Hampton Roads Playwright’s New Work Receives International Recognition


Ricardo Melendez playwright
Ricardo Melendez

Words and Images Courtesy of TR Dance Center


Melendez’s latest play will have encore showings locally before touring abroad

A thought-provoking play that asks: “What price will you pay to get what you yearn for?”


After 6 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 3 theater festivals domestically and abroad.

At 2 of these festivals, Melendez’s work has already received acclaim above and beyond the invitation to perform:

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 awarded Angel 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.

Melendez on reflecting on Eros says he is “…humbled by the support the Community has always shown me. 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!”

For this world-premiere production of Angel on Eros, the artists are collaborating with Spanish painter Javier Trelis Sempere to represent Angel’s paintings onstage. Sempere’s work will be incorporated into the play’s narrative and featured in all promotional materials.

Angel on Eros Synopsis - Angel is 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?

Angel on Eros Synopsis in Brief - Angel on Eros unflinchingly examines the friendship between two men of differing sexual orientation and offers a view into the transactional nature of human interactions. Framed within the business of the arts, the play dives into questions of disillusionment, self-discovery, and radical acceptance.

Angel on Eros 2023 Tour Dates:

April 8 at 9:00 pm

Zeiders American Dream Theater in Virginia Beach, VA

April 14 – 15 at 8:00 pm

TRDance Center in Norfolk, VA

April 28 at 6:30 pm, April 29 at 3:30 pm, April 30 at 7:30 pm

The Wild Project in New York, NY

May 8 – 12

Dublin, Ireland

August 17 – 20

Indianapolis, IN

About Ricardo Melendez—Playwright/Actor (Angel)

Ricardo Melendez 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 (all in Norfolk, VA). A member of Actors’ Equity, Ricardo has frequently performed across the country and the world. For his portrayal of Vaslav Nijinsky in Norman Allen’s one-man play Nijinsky’s Last Dance at the 2008 International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Ricardo was honored with the Micheál Mac Liammóir Award for Best Performance. More recently, Ricardo received the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Performance from the Kennedy Center ACTF for his performance in Working: A Musical. His works as a playwright include: Cloaked (nominated for Best Writing at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival), Call Me Boricua (a one-man play produced across the continental US), My Dorian (commissioned by the Old Dominion University Theater Department), and Paper Cranes (produced by The Governor’s School for The Arts in Virginia). Ricardo is an Adjunct Instructional Faculty Member in the College of Arts and Letters at Old Dominion University, as well as a proud teaching artist for The Governor’s School of the Arts (in the departments of Dance and Theatre + Film).

About Brexdyn La Dieu—Actor (Matt)

Brexdyn La Dieu grew up in Suffolk, Virginia, where he began his dance training at a local studio, Maureen's School of Dance. Brexdyn later joined TRDance’s open classes to prepare himself for The Governor's School for the Arts’ dance department. Brexdyn has attended summer intensives at Richmond Ballet, The Dance Ensemble Intensive, NW Dance Project, Bounce!, and The Ballet Conservatory, where he also returned as a resident advisor. While in college, he attended programs such as The Dance Ensemble Intensive, NW Dance Project, and Bounce! Brexdyn is currently seeking his BFA in dance at George Mason University, where he dances in many student works, as well as in works by choreographers like Lar Lubovitch, Andonis Foniadakis, Jean Emile, Nacho Duato, Fiona Jopp, Lucinda Childs, and Micaela Taylor. This is Brexdyn’s second season as a company member with both Todd Rosenlieb Dance and Virginia Ballet Theatre and first season with the Actor’s Workshop of Virginia.

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