PICT’s “The Heiress” Revives a Classic Tale of Self-Discovery

PICT Classic Theater’s third and final production of their 2018-2019 season will be The Heiress, written by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. Adapted from the novel, Washington Square by Henry James, The Heiress tells the story of a wealthy yet insecure young woman desperate to find love.

Set in the 1850s, The Heiress follows Catherine Sloper: a shy, unsophisticated and plain-looking woman who is courted by a dashing but penniless bachelor. Catherine believes this is her chance to find love and happiness, while her father believes the man is simply after her inheritance. As the play progresses, true motives and feelings are discovered, and Catherine is taken on a journey of self-discovery, turning her from a shy young girl into an independent woman.

The Heiress began its life on Broadway back in 1947, starring Basil Rathbone and Wendy Hiller. Two years later it was adapted into a film with the same title, starring Olivia de Havilland and Sir Ralph Richardson. The play has been in constant production since then, with its most recent Broadway revival running from 2012-2013, starring Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens.

PICT Classic Theater’s production of The Heiress will star Erika Cuenca in the leading role of Catherine. Along with being a frequent actor in the Pittsburgh theater circuit, Cuenca is also the Associate Artistic Director for off the WALL productions, which coins itself as “Pittsburgh’s alternative performing arts theater company.” Starring alongside Cuenca will be PICT’s own pool of professional actors along with other Pittsburgh based actors.

To coincide with the opening of The Heiress, PICT Classic Theater will host a fundraising event at the LeMont Restaurant in Pittsburgh where you can join celebrated Pittsburgh media personalities and PICT artists for an elegant soiree. Advice for The Heiress from Pittsburgh’s Best will feature Sally Wiggin, Natalie Bencivenga, and Nan Cohen, where they will be giving contemporary advice to Erika Cuenca’s character Catherine about her dilemma of love and happiness. The event will include hors d’oeuvres, dinner, a silent auction, and raffles that will all benefit PICT Classic Theater. You can find more information about the event and how to purchase tickets by heading to picttheatre.org.

Alan Stanford, Artistic and Executive Director of PICT Classic Theater describes The Heiress as, “a story of romance, discovery, and empowerment. [It’s] a personal journey of self-awareness that we all must take at some point in our lives.” He shares that he sees The Heiress as a classic play, and a good piece of theater. While the play itself is a free adaptation of the novel, Stanford believes it “represents fully Henry James’ intention in telling the story of a girl, unregarded by her only parent, who learns through experience to be independent and in control of her own destiny.” Doing my own research on the play, it seems to have feminist themes through out, which I feel will resonate well with modern audience members despite being set in the mid 1800s. Stanford states “it [has] a timeless theme, and in a world where duplicity and deception can cause havoc in the lives of the innocent, it is always worth re-visiting.”

The Heiress runs April 4-April 27 a WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio. For tickets and more info, click here.


Jade Goodes is a graduate of Penn Sate University where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While attending Penn State she became the Managing Editor for the school’s literary & arts magazine, Absence. Jade has been involved with the Pittsburgh theater community since elementary school, and has performed in many productions over the years. In her free time she enjoys reading and attending all the concerts she can.

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