For two nights in July Old City Cemetery came alive with the unique British theatrical experience known as A Few Steps Shy of Heaven. Elaborate Victorian costumes, British accents, waltzing aristocrats, and steam train whistles were in ample supply. The weather cooperated and made for two very pleasant evenings in the gravegarden. The event was a huge hit: over 100 people attended the first night, and almost 150 the second.
A Few Steps Shy of Heaven was the vision of Claire Wittman, a talented Shenandoah University student and Lynchburg native, who wrote the five “mini plays” that comprised the production—and even acted in one. Although the dramas and its characters had no direct connection to Lynchburg, they were all historically inspired and set during the time the Cemetery was most active.
The production was an entirely volunteer effort, and no one received any compensation for their time or talent. Special thanks to organizers Claire and Loretta and Jeff Wittman; directors Katie Gardner, Jeff Wittman, Michelle Velastegui, Karl Lindevaldsen, and Melora Kordos; and the many gifted actors and crew members who participated.
The most remarkable surprise came the week after the plays, when Claire visited the Cemetery Center to present us with a check for over $3,000(!). Every penny of profit from the production (including a special fundraising dinner at the Ploughcroft Tea Room) was donated to Old City Cemetery. It was an incredible community effort, and we are very grateful to everyone involved.
—Ted Delaney, Executive Director