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Remembering Virginia Burke

Virginia Burke

Were you in the audience for Park Square’s production Becky’s New Car in 2009? How about Rock’n’Roll, or Sherlock Holmes and the Jersey Lilly? Or perhaps you loved 2013’s Good People? If you saw any of these plays, you were witness to the remarkable talent of actress Virginia Burke, who passed away in early July only a month after being diagnosed with lung cancer. A frequent performer at many local companies including Frank Theatre, The Actors Theatre of Minnesota, and the Guthrie, she leaves behind a legacy of passion, creativity, and dedication to the theatre.

 

 

Virginia Burke in Becky's Car at Park Square Theatre

Becky’s Car

At Park Square, Burke performed in twelve productions spanning over twenty years.* Wherever she went, she stole the show or the scene. In 2009, Dominick Papatola wrote in the Pioneer Press, “I like Becky’s New Car — the new play by Steven Dietz now onstage at Park Square Theatre — quite a bit. But I love, love, love Virginia Burke’s performance in the title role.” He went on to describe her incredible performance, “her face has a thousand expressions — eyes bugged out in horror or squeezed shut in frustration; lips pursed in thinning patience or gnawed at in moral quandary; chin dipped in guilt or riding high with the excitement of new adventure.”

 

Virginia Burke in Rock 'N' Roll at Park Square Theatre

Rock ‘N’ Roll

 

Mary Finnerty directed Burke in Tom Stoppard’s Rock’n’Roll in 2010 and speaks fervently about all that Burke gave to Park Square, as well as the dedication of her mother, Virginia McFerran. “Whenever Gina was part of an education event at Park Square, she would break the mold and approach the students on a whole new level… utterly authentically — and they were riveted. When I told her she had a rare gift for connecting with teens, she winked, ‘Well… I still have a lot of adolescent left in me ya know, besides, my ma was the best teacher and director on the planet and I learned by watching her.’  Burke’s Mother, Dr. Virginia McFerran, has served for 13 years on the Park Square Teacher Advisory Board, editing and creating study materials and tirelessly brokering connections with Arts Educators. For McFerran, watching Gina onstage was transfixing and the joy it brought beyond description. “She was my theatre buddy. When I was writing, I would call and run a line by her and she would have great feedback. She was so wise… so talented.’”

 

Sherlock Holmes and the Jersey Lily

 

Burke performed in three of Park Square’s summer mysteries, and was first introduced to the theatre by her close friend Peter Moore, director of many shows including Might As Well Be Dead: A Nero Wolfe Mystery, which just closed last weekend. In honor of her great contributions to Park Square and the greater Twin Cities theatre community, a seat in the proscenium theatre where she performed so many times will be dedicated to Virginia Burke this fall with her family present.

 

Thank you for sharing your talents with us, Virginia. Your spirit will always be alive in our hearts and on the stage.

*Virginia Burke Performed in Twelve Shows at Park Square from 1992 to 2013
2013  Good People (Margie)
2011  August Osage County (Barb)
2011  Sherlock Holmes and the Jersey Lily (Lily Langtry)
2010  The Last Seder (Jane)
2010  Rock ‘n’ Roll (Candida)
2010  Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (Irene Adler)
2009  Becky’s New Car (Becky)
2009  Othello (Amelia)
2002  June Moon (Lucille)
1995  Merton of the Movies (The Montague Girl)
1993  On Borrowed Time
1992  Macbeth (Witch)

Rachel Wandrei is Park Square Theatre's Marketing and Engagement Manager
Rachel Wandrei
Marketing and Engagement Manager at

Rachel Wandrei is Park Square's Marketing and Engagement Manager. She also works with Forecast Public Art on their workshop series for emerging artists and has previously held management positions at Z Puppets Rosenzchnoz and Mixed Precipitation's Picnic Operetta. She holds a BM in vocal performance from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Master's degree in Arts and Cultural Management from St Mary's University and is passionate about the role of art and arts organizations in building healthy communities.

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