Virginia Repertory Theatre has received a $1 million naming gift from Susan Stevens Bogese and her two children, Allyson Bogese Ashcraft (Jay) and Michael Bogese III, to name the main theatre at our new Virginia Rep Center in memory of their daughter/sibling Jessica (Jessie) Michael Bogese, who passed away unexpectedly in March, 2021.
Jessica would have turned 43 on Saturday, December 10 th , and that is the day that Virginia Repertory Theatre welcomed the family to the new facility with a private ceremony and champagne toast to name the theatre at Virginia Rep Center for Arts and Education in Jessie’s memory.
In the early 1990s, Jessie Bogese had a birthday party at Virginia Rep’s predecessor, Theatre IV. Throughout her life, Jessie reminisced with her mom about how that particular party stood out in her memory, because she was treated like royalty in front of her friends. Jessica had cerebral palsy and despite her disability was very active in theatre, dance, and art.
When Susan Bogese saw the Richmond Times-Dispatch news coverage regarding Virginia Rep’s purchase of The Scottish Rite Temple, she was moved to call. Susan let the theatre’s Director of Development, Emily Cole-Jones, know that she had been searching for something positive to do with the funds in Jessie’s estate to honor her memory. The recent announcement that Virginia Rep Center has brought Disney Musicals in Schools to Chesterfield County reinforced her decision about being involved with Virginia Rep.
After several conversations with Susan, Cole-Jones said, “She shared with us how Jessie was quiet and shy, but that she loved theatre and dance, and once she was on stage, she was transformed. Her disability took a back seat to her talent.”
“Even though Jessie didn’t like a lot of attention,” Bogese said, “We felt that Jessie would be happy that her story might be able to inspire hundreds of kids to take risks,
overcome challenges, and pursue their talents.”
The first show to be presented in the Virginia Rep Center’s Jessica M. Bogese Theatre is ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, opening Sat, Dec 17 and running through Jan 1 for the holidays. The theatre can welcome up to 650 children and their families to see this Christmas classic. Snow Bear will be on hand to meet the children.
The new Virginia Rep Center for Arts and Education is located at 4204 Hermitage Road in Richmond’s Hermitage Road Historic District, adjacent to the Bellevue neighborhood, with close proximity to Bryan Park that allows for outdoor programming and new community partnerships. This landmark building, the former home of the Richmond Children’s Theatre, has a long history as a performing arts venue. Virginia Rep is preserving this legacy and will be making it available to other local theatres, dance companies, schools, community nonprofits, and area arts and education organizations.
Virginia Repertory Theatre is a non-profit professional theatre that is one of Central Virginia’s largest professional performing arts organizations. This year, the theatre celebrates its 70 th Anniversary with a variety of events.
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