News Column

The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va., Rob Hedelt column

October 24, 2013


Oct. 24--TODAY'S column updates two previous topics: dramatic projects from local director Fred Franklin and interesting events at Orange County's The Market at Grelen.

We'll start with Franklin, a source of information and friend I've been covering for decades.

In addition to a long career as a drama teacher at two Stafford County high schools, Franklin has worked with actors and drama professionals from Broadway to London's West End.

He got in touch last week to share details of his latest production, "The Woman in Black" that's being presented by The Rude Mechanicals and the Fredericksburg Festival for the Performing Arts.

The spooky tale of an evil ghostly specter, done recently as a motion picture starring Daniel Radcliffe, will be presented at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library Headquarters Theater Nov. 1-3.

Franklin, now retired from teaching, is excited about the production, which features three talented actors playing the various parts, as well as a specially created "soundscape" of sounds and effects.

He also is happy with the revival of The Rude Mechanicals, a local amateur theater group he and others helped form in the early 1980s.

"The group did some interesting shows in those years, from 'Some Like it Hot' to 'The Canterbury Tales.'" he said.

Franklin noted that the group was active for much of the that decade, and then sporadically after that, with different actors, directors and other participants moving in and out of the group.

In the past year or two, the group has become active again, bringing in the "Faction of Fools" group of Washington, D.C., to do a comedic version of "Romeo and Juliet," offering a screen-writing session with London's Derek Brown and staging a production of "Sweeney Todd" at the Olde Silk Mill.

Franklin noted that some of the other originals from The Rude Mechanicals are again involved, as well as newcomers.

He noted that a partnership with the Fredericksburg Festival for the Performing Arts has been critical, and that the group welcomes those who'd like to become involved with the community theater group.

"New blood is always welcome," said Franklin, who said the new productions are possible because of a local talent pool that includes many individuals with training or experience in the theater.

He noted that tickets for the "Lady In Black" performances, available at the door, are $10, $5 for students, with shows Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m.

To get involved, call Franklin at 371-3850.


This spring, I shared details of a new sort of garden and plant shop, farm market, pick-your-own spot and cafe called The Market at Grelen, near Somerset in Orange County.

At the time, the spot on a beautiful hillside in Orange County just down from James Madison's Montpelier was still adding some of its key components.

I stopped in for a second visit recently, and market creative director Leslie Gregg shared a cornucopia of details.

She started by mentioning a special Halloween concert and event from 5 to 10 p.m. this Saturday.

Then she moved on to workshops on floral arrangements and wreaths, plant and garden-product sales and offerings in a market cafe, where the chef typically uses fruits and vegetables grown on site.

"Since spring, we finished refurbishing the building that holds our kitchen, which has let us offer the soups, salads, sandwiches and other offerings sold in the cafe," said Gregg, whose husband and a partner operate the nursery that surrounds the new market.

A big seller this season, she notes, have been different flavors of ice cream produced with the blueberries, blackberries and other flavorful items grown on the grounds.

Gregg is especially excited about Saturday evening's Halloween event, which will include music, fire pits, caramel apples, marshmallow roasting, fortune-telling, ghost stories, a bonfire, night hikes in the berry patch and "counselors" to help watch kids 7 and up.

She noted that the cafe will be stocked with warm chili, mac and cheese, corn muffins and cider. A doughnut truck will also be on site.

Music will include Charlottesville singer-songwriter John Kelly and Presence, a rock-blues band.

For more information about the event, which has a rain date on Sunday, the following day, from 1 to 5 p.m., go online to or call 540/672-7268.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415


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