OXFORD, MS. David Sheffield, who went on to write for Saturday Night Live and various Eddie Murphy movies has taken to the stage with his comedy The Heartbreak Henry, based on his experiences as manager of a cheap Oxford hotel in 1967.
The Theatre Oxford production runs August 12-15, with a preview August 11 at the Gertrude C. Ford Performing Arts Center in the Mary Ann Mobley/Gary E. Collins Studio Theatre. Tickets can be purchased through the Ford Center Box office at (662) 915 – 7411. Tickets are $20.
The production is co-sponsored by the University of Mississippi School of Journalism & New Media.
The play features some of the cranky, contentious and confused characters who frequented the run-down hotel during Sheffield’s tenure as manager. Sheffield was a freshman at The University of Mississippi during the time. Rooms cost $4.50, there was a payphone for guests in the lobby and to is horror he had to evict two waitresses with illegal social side gigs on a snowy Christmas Eve.
“This story happened about 50 years ago,” said Sheffield, who lives near Laurel, MS. “I met a bunch of characters I couldn’t get out of my mind. At the Henry the unexpected was the norm.”
The show is also supported through grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the Ford Center and the Clancy Collins fund, as well as community donors.
Sheffield said, “I went to Ole Miss for an education, but the real education took place at the Henry Hotel. I saw things at the Henry I never saw at home.”
Sheffield was co-screenwriter of the Coming To/2 America movies, The Nutty Professor, Boomerang, and other Eddie Murphy movies, but he never forgot his stint at the Henry Hotel. With The Heartbreak Henry Sheffield is returning full circle to Oxford where his career as a comedy writer began.