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Documentary Film on ‘Heartbreak Henry’ Being Screened Tonight at Overby Center

Cast of “The Heartbreak Henry” with writer/director David Sheffield (second from right). Photo provided

A new documentary “Heartbreak Henry: The Show Must Go On,” filmed and edited by University of Mississippi Assistant Journalism Professor Mike Fagans, will be screened today at 6 p.m. at the Overby Center.

The public is invited to attend.

Fagans’ film documents the making of “The Heartbreak Henry” a comedy by David Sheffield presented by Theatre Oxford from Aug. 12-15, 2021, at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

In 1967, as a University of Mississippi undergraduate, David Sheffield, 19, was the student-manager of the residential Henry Hotel located in the building that today houses Rafters Blues House in Oxford.

“The Heartbreak Henry” features some of the cranky, contentious and confused patrons who frequented the run-down hotel when Sheffield was the manager.

“This is a coming-of-age story set in the late ‘Sixties, a period of great change when free love, civil rights and Viet Nam were happening,” 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.”

David Sheffield congratulating lead actress
Ginnie Brown on opening night Aug. 15, 2021
at the Ford Center

After leaving Oxford Sheffield went on to a distinguished career as head comedy writer at “Saturday Night Live” and 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.

The Docs Without Borders Film Festival has designated “Heartbreak Henry: The Show Must Go On” an official selection in its 2022 competition. Mississippi Public Broadcasting has expressed interest in airing Fagans’ documentary.  A broadcast date is yet to be determined.

Journalism students Margaret Bushway, Alexander Norris, Tucker Robbins, and Billy Schuerman assisted Fagans in producing the documentary. During six weeks of rehearsals in July-August 2021, there were ups and downs.

When lead actress Gabrielle Quintana contracted Covid two days before the play was to open, fellow cast member Ginnie Brown filled in.

“Ginnie memorized the part in 24 hours,” Sheffield said. “In the end, it all came together.”

Staff report

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