'The Belle of Amherst' returns to the stage in one-woman show

ALT brings one-woman play ‘The Belle of Amherst’ back to the stage

Ronda Lewis as Emily Dickinson in “The Belle of Amherst.” ( Courtesy of Ponic Photograpy)

“The Belle of Amherst” returns – and it stars Ronda Lewis.

The Albuquerque Little Theatre production kicks off its two-week run beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.

This play is directed by Henry Avery and runs through Oct. 9.

Lewis stars in the 1976 one-woman play by William Luce, set in Amherst, Massachusetts, and based on poet Emily Dickinson from 1830 to 1886.

The play uses her work, diaries and letters to recollect her encounters with the important people in her life.

“This is the second time that I’ve tackled the role of Emily Dickinson, as the theater did this show last summer, when we were just getting back to the theater,” Lewis said. “I really worked very hard on this last year as a lot of my prep is from a year ago. So, it has been terrific.”

Though she loves the role, it does have its difficulties.

“It definitely poses challenges that are very unique to having a one-woman show or a one-person show,” Lewis said. “There’s no one on stage with me to cue me if I lose my place or forget where I’m going or draw the line, as typically, you’ve got a scene partner and someone can kind of help you cover or if needed.”

For this role, Lewis had to prepare in a different way.

“In this situation, I have had to find internal cues within the work itself,” Lewis said. “So a lot of the cues are for me, tied to blocking, or I cue myself from a prior sentence or story or whatever it may be.”

As Emily Dickinson, Lewis won the 2022 Vivian Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a drama or comedy. Lewis received rave reviews for her performance when the show premiered at ALT in the summer of 2021.

“I was very much taken aback, as I really did not expect that to happen to me,” Lewis said. “This was a passion piece and the honor and the real takeaway for me was just getting to get up there and be me for a couple of hours.”

Outside of acting, Lewis serves as resource development director and production coordinator at ALT.

“Then to be recognized for it a year later was kind of unbelievable, I was really, really humbled and honored to have even been nominated,” Lewis said. “Then to win, it was a little shocking to me, so I appreciated it very much.”

To Lewis, playing Dickinson was her best role.

“It’s such an honor, working Emily and being Emily for these couple of hours, every night that it feels to me like the best work that I’ve done,” she said.

Home » Entertainment » Arts » ALT brings one-woman play ‘The Belle of Amherst’ back to the stage


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