For more than 30 years, Joan Wolford has followed her passion for food and her love of theater. In January, those interests will blend at the Franklin Park Performing Arts Center.
Wolford moved to Virginia from New Jersey when she was awarded a position at the Heart in Hand restaurant in Clifton. There she fell in love with the hospitality and cuisine of the South. Under the tutelage of Suzanne Worsham, then owner and head chef, Wolford honed her work ethic and passion for creating fine food. Together, they served a clientele that counted Nancy Reagan and George Will among its regulars.
Wolford left the Heart in Hand in 1987 to launch the Hamilton Garden Inn, a fine dining restaurant and bed and breakfast in Hamilton. The Inn catered numerous anniversary celebrations, rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions, teas and luncheons. Willard Scott celebrated his 25th anniversary there and raved about the experience—especially the homemade peach ice cream—to his national Today Show audience the next day.
Wolford’s loyal Hamilton Garden Inn patron Gus Eyssell often said she had “such savoir faire.” That phrase stuck when Wolford started her own catering company in 1997.
For the past 20 years, Savoir Fare has catered thousands of memorable events throughout Northern Virginia. Between 4 and 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, Wolford’s followers stop by C’est Bon, her rolling bistro in the parking lot of Savoir Fare at the corner of Loudoun and Main streets, and pick up takeout dinner cuisine.
She also developed a love of theater at a young age.
And even while running her catering company, she still found time to pursue her passion in the productions of “They’re Playing Our Song,” “Mame,” “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Crimes of the Heart,” Main Street Theatre’s “Holiday & Take Two Cabarets,” and many Reader’s Theatre productions.
And now, Wolford is bringing food, theatre and community together at Franklin Park.
For three shows, Jan. 12-14, she’ll take on the role of Countess Aurelia, the madwoman of Chaillot in BITWC Imagine That Theatre’s production of “Dear World” at Franklin Park. The production is directed by Marian Sweet, with musical direction by Carma Jones and Frank Shipp.
Wolford said role is challenging because of the countess’ complex, over-the-top personality. “It often takes me a couple of hours to shake the Countess and get some rest. … That woman has a presence,” Wolford said.
The show opens Friday, Jan. 12, with an 8 p.m. performance. On Saturday, a dinner and show combo includes a three-course meal starting at 6 p.m. before the 8 p.m. performance. On Sunday, Wolford plans Tea at the Theater, with assorted offerings of tea, sandwiches, scones, jam and cream served at 1:30 p.m. before the 3 p.m. finale of the production.
For reservations, call 540-338-8300 or go to facebook.com/bitwcimaginethattheatre.