A month before the May 26th opening night of Pentacle Theatre’s Leading Ladies, the cast of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? the Edward Albee masterpiece that comes to the Pentacle in early July, had already begun to prepare for performance.

“Rehearsals began with table work in mid-April,” says the play’s director Ed Schoaps, “progressing to blocking and running scenes.”

Schoaps, a popular actor and director at Pentacle since 1976, believes that attention to detail is essential for a work of this stature. “People think they know Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’ because they dimly remember seeing or hearing about the film version,” he says. “To truly appreciate Albee’s masterwork, it’s best to see it in an intimate setting. This play is smart, funny and heart-achingly real. It’s a true-to-life snapshot in time and place — straight out of the 60s — that still vividly rings true today.”

Schoaps is delighted with the performers he and assistant director Kathryn Thomas found for the 4-person drama; Heathre Powell as Martha, Michael Swanson as George, Maxwell Romprey as Nick and Paris Rumbolz as Honey.

“Each of the four actors in this play must be at the top of their game and fully invested in their character,” Schoaps says. “George, Martha, Nick and Honey are bucket-list roles, and we are lucky to have cast a quartet of the most talented actors in Salem in this show.”

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was written by Albee in 1962 and won both the 1963 Tony Award for Best Play and the 1962–63 New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play.

“Our assistant director, Kathryn Thomas, wrote her master’s thesis on Edward Albee. She brings insights to this play and opens doors for the actors to build their characters like no one else can,” Schoaps adds. “What makes rehearsals fun for the actors is discovering something new about their characters as we peel apart the script, layer by layer.”

The play opens on July 7. pentacletheatre.org