As Joan in We Are A Masterpiece by Gina Femia, Retro Productions 2018
Awards and Recognition:
Heather E. Cunningham was a 2019 New York Innovative Theatre Award nominee for Outstanding actress in a Lead Role for her portrayal of Mary in MARY, MARY by Jean Kerr.
Heather E. Cunningham was the 2014 winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role for her portrayal of Rose Walker in AN APPEAL TO THE WOMAN OF THE HOUSE by Christie Perfetti Williams.
Heather E. Cunningham was a 2011 New York Innovative Theatre Award nominee for Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role and Outstanding Ensemble for her portrayal of Sheila in BENEFACTORS by Michael Frayn.
Heather E. Cunningham was a 2007 Back Stage East "Performance to Remember" for her portrayal of Cheryl in STILL LIFE: A DOCUMENTARY by Emily Mann.
"Heather E. Cunningham is sensational as Mary, a woman whose brashness masks her insecurity. Cunningham commands the stage from the moment she enters, and it’s clear why her neurotic ex-husband goes into a tailspin just from the news that she’s coming... Cunningham was really the only performer who wasn’t even a bit cartoonish in her performance, but it’s more appropriate for some characters than others... But Mary’s character is knottier, and the play benefits tremendously from Cunningham’s subtle performance." - Abigail Weill, The Theatre Times
"As the laid-back Mary, Heather E. Cunningham is excellent with both the quick comeback and the humble demeanor." - Victor Gluck, Theatrescene.net
"Artistic Director and star Heather E. Cunningham’s Mary is infused with equal-parts vivacity and heartbreak, highlighting the pain and insecurities she endured as a child and a bride, while also displaying her unflappable wit and intelligence in the face of personal and emotional struggles." - Natalie Rine, Onstageblog.com
" Mary... played with wisdom and sensitivity by Heather E. Cunningham" - Elyse Orecchio, Theatre's Leiter Side
"Cunningham's Joan makes us all hope that we would have acted as she did. The camaraderie between Cunningham and Thigpen as Joan and Shelly is lively and excellently observed, giving real heft to the later troubling of their relationship." - Culture Catch
"WE ARE A MASTERPIECE is a strong and substantial play that helps us understand our own social history while reminding us of the need for courage and understanding during difficult times. It is moving, especially in the second act which brought tears to many eyes in the audience. The actors are up to the difficult material, particularly Ben Schnickel, Ms. Cunningham and Ric Sechrest." - Hi! Drama
"There is great power in Heather Cunningham as Joan's rejection of the rules that never worked for her." - Ed Malin, Theater in the Now
"The acerbic, rapid-fire verbal sparring deployed by Heather E. Cunningham's Catherine overlays a loneliness and even tenderness, seen for example in her teasing interactions with the delivery boy." - Leah Richards, Culture Catch
"Underneath Heather E. Cunningham's snarkiness was a real affection and protectiveness for her sister Anna." - Eva Heinemann, Hi! Drama
"Gines’ production is not only brilliantly cast but it also moves with the speed of an Acela train. Heather E. Cunningham’s Catherine exhibits a wry humor and a perfect sense of timing as she becomes progressively drunker as well as more scathing in her insults." - Victor Gluck, Theatrescene.net
"...the real drama which is Elizabeth Hardy, played by Heather E. Cunningham, who plays Brandon’s mother and is perfectly brilliant in the role. Watching Elizabeth on stage was exactly how a mother might handle this situation and even though she was technically trying to cover up for her son, her internal conflict resonated outward in a way that made me feel almost sorry for her as a parent. " - Raymond Helkio, The Reading Salon
"Joe’s wife, Fanny, a robust Heather E. Cunningham who almost steals the show with her snide wisecracks" - Joel Benjamin, Theatrescene.net
"Mr. Mendez directed this work, with its intimate audience, for details in gestural emotions, especially in the case of Ms. Cunningham, who, when embroiled in an office crisis, showed hints of fear and trepidation." - Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower - robertaonthearts.com
"There is another character in the play (the scene stealing Heather E. Cunningham) whose presence not only disrupts the already sinister mechanisms of Freeman’s plot, but infects each character domino-effect style." - Teddy Nicholas, New York Theatre Review
“If there is a heart and soul of this play, it is Heather Cunningham as Rose Walker. She is, after all, the woman of the house. Cunningham’s portrayal of Rose is appropriately motherly yet Rose is also very much a woman to be reckoned with. Cunningham’s Rose has been worn down by a difficult and dull life, but she has not completely lost the spark that drives her onwards. Cunningham was an inspired choice for this role and has great emotional breadth.” – Theresa Perkins, My Entertainment World
"Playwright Christie Perfetti Williams keeps the action within the Walkers’ tidy and modest living room, and she depicts the marriage between Gideon and Rose as a genuine partnership unlimited by gender lines. Directed by DeLisa White, Sechrest and Cunningham deliver graceful performances that are quietly powerful..." - Stage Buddy
"Heather Cunningham’s Anna is complex and layered, both as ailing schoolteacher and grieving sister. She’s a powerful performer on stage, at once able to hold her own and blend with her scene partners... Ms. Cunningham and Mr. Rust’s chemistry as brother and sister is the most effective among the three actors, culminating in an ending of one precious moment of emotional, and satisfying release." - Gina Femia, New York Theatre Review
"Clearly, Matthew Trumbull and Heather Cunningham have much in the way of acting chops." - Edward Malin, nytheatre.com
"Heather Cunningham as Sheila gave a powerhouse of a performance, heart-wrenching as the mother and wife struggling to keep her family together. " - Gina Femia, New York Theatre Review
"The play... features a hard-working cast of six, of whom Heather Cunningham as Martha Washington was, for me, the standout." - Martin Denton, nytheatre.com
"The cast is strong (standouts include Heather E. Cunningham as Rivard's housekeeper), the story is compelling, and the show is well worth seeing." - Wendy Caster, Show Showdown
"Heather E. Cunningham plays housekeeper Mrs. Shandig. Mrs. Shandig is a convert to Catholicism who runs the Rectory and Convent. As innocent as Sister Rita is, she is well aware of men’s more base natures. She tries to protect both Sister Rita and Father Rivard from their emotions. Ms. Cunningham is excellent – as are the other supporting players." - Scott Mitchell, Reviews Off Broadway
"As the loveless, and lovesick Sheila, Heather E. Cunningham, is called upon to make the biggest character changes, from warm to cold, from strong to weak, from hysterical to giddy, to needy to independent. Always hitting the right note, from vocal to facial expressions, to body language, Cunningham is a joy to watch." - Edward Rubin, nytheatre-wire.com
"And Cunningham is simply phenomenal. She portrays Sheila with a depth and intensity that is absolutely breathtaking." - Alan J. Miller, theasy.com
"Cunningham is especially good with the dry, throwaway lines that she's called upon to deliver as the senior staffer, Peg Costello." - Martin Denton, nytheatre.com
"I also appreciate Heather E. Cunningham as Peg. Cunningham is a heavy-set woman who delivers a performance with a subtext that says, “I value myself, and I won’t mock myself or my weight by acting ridiculous. I know I’m desirable and worth a great deal.” I’d say “More power to her,” but Cunningham knows she has plenty of power already, and is using it splendidly. " - Peter Filichia, theatremania.com
"Heather Cunningham does a number on the character of Peg – expanding her from a one-note good time gal into someone who runs deeper and truer. Peg is brassy and bold, but Cunningham will every so slightly allow her vulnerability to peek through, and it’s at that moment when you fall in love with her. " - Karen Tortora-Lee, thehappiestmedium.com
"...the most astonishing transformation was done by Heather Cunningham. I’ve been following Heather’s work over the last few years, and had you told me, before I saw the show, what her role was, I wouldn’t have believed you. Heather has played the innocent and the ravaged, and has always plumbed the depths of her own shock and misery in such a way that my heart was just shattering during each of their last few plays. A woman, alone at a table, eating a donut… you wouldn’t think it could move me to tears, but it did. So, suddenly, she’s the femme fatale? Suddenly, she’s the man eater, as devilishly flirtatious and sexually powerful as Mad Men’s Joan. This is not a role that many theater companies would consider Heather for, and yet she knocks it out of the park. " - Sean Williams, seanrants.com
"From the moment Heather E. Cunningham opens the play as Rosie, with a foreshadowing soliloquy of lost flowers, the audience is completely drawn into her world, her family's struggle, her pain, and ultimately her courage. Cunningham's is a performance of such strength, nobility, and beauty she literally left me breathless. Her stunning portrayal grows like a daffodil emerging from the snow until Rosie's inner struggle blossoms so fiercely, so blindingly clear, the empathy we experience is cathartic. I was left literally shaken... In the gut-wrenching climax, Cunningham and Forbrich tear your heart out. I was not alone in suppressing sobs." - Heather McCallister, nytheatre.com
"Heather continues to make heart scraping choices when she decides who she is gonna play and how. It isn't interesting to watch a person be depressed, it isn't interesting to watch a person mourn, and it's deeply boring to watch passive aggression and self-denial in real life, it's even worse on stage. So it is a great testimony to Ms. Cunningham that she saves the worst character for herself, a study in self-absorption and misery that still, somehow, simply pops off the stage. I don't actually know how she does it. I couldn't. My most profound weakness as an actor is the implicit apology I carry around for being unattractive, my sense that every character I play is fighting, always, to achieve something, something noble. Heather has instead opted for a study in defeat, a zombie living with an unimaginable horror. And because of this, her small and intense redemption, the final admission of her sadness, carries a universal significance, and the room was filled with sobs. All vanity aside, it takes enormous courage to create this character inside this amazing story, and I'm slowly beginning to realize that there's probably nothing Heather can't do." - Sean Williams, seanrants.com
"Misery overcomes farm wife Rosie (Cunningham), who spends her time sulking around the kitchen in a zombie-like trance... The urge to walk onstage and shake her out of it owes to Cunningham's moving performance... " - Lily Hodges, villagevoice.com
"I’m haunted by the seemingly stark yet surprisingly deep performances by Heather E. Cunningham (Rosie), Joe Forbrich (Gant), Lowell Byers (Will) and Casandera M.J. Lollar (Molly)... Heather E. Cunningham’s Rosie is suffering deeply from a loss which has taken her hope and her heart, but there are still moments of anger in her, and where there’s anger there’s at least a spark of life. She tightly wraps her depression around her as if it were the ratty sweater she can’t keep from pulling closer and closer. " - Karen Tortora-Lee, thehappiestmedium.com
"She is a gut-punch of an actor. Completely without concern for herself when she's in character, utterly subsumed by the demands of the script. But I know she was also at every step of the process, the sets, the props, everything... including picking the piece. So Cunningham picked a play where her character is humiliated a hundred different ways, and she lost herself in it. Knowing, as I do, the number of things she would have had to do on a daily and nightly basis, before and during rehearsals, before and during the performance each day, made me love her performance even more in retrospect. And look, I know, I have a thing I do when I see plays. I watch the ancillary characters more than the scene stealing ones, I want to know what an actor can do when given only *some* of what she or he needs. But the fact is, Cunningham's character Angel becomes the person we identify with. She is who we would be, if we were in the play. It is a marvelous night of theater." - Sean Williams, Seanrants.com
"But the tragic star who attempts to be joyful and helpful, but ends the play weeping while consoling herself with one of the worst looking donuts ever seen, is Angel the chunky waitress, played by Heather Cunningham. We need a sidebar to inform you that Heather Cunningham is the founder and artistic director of Retro Productions, and often this kind of casting can seem like vanity, but not here. Heather’s veneer of joy is outsized, but the terrible teasing and abuse she absorbs from nearly every character, and hence from the world at large is palpable." - Wickham Boyle, theaterscene.net
"Stand-outs include Heather E. Cunningham as Angel. She works so hard to please everyone else, letting all others lay into her as she tries to roll with the punches. As the situation gets more volatile, her defenses gradually crumble as she loses the ability to cope." - Andrew Singer, City Scoops, New York
"We get to see Cunningham break down at the very end of the play in a very moving moment...Kudos to Ms. Cunningham." - Dianna Martin, The Fab Marquee
"Cunningham...clearly understands everything Angel feels, especially regarding her unrequited love—affection, at least—for Stephen, who calls himself Red Ryder." - Leonard Jacobs, Backstage.
"Jessica Collins (a perfect Heather E. Cunningham)" - Jonathan Reuning, United Stages.
"As the deeply dissatisfied estranged wife of a Vietnam vet in Retro Productions' presentation of Emily Mann's play [Still Life], Heather E. Cunningham burst with working-class outrage and resentment yet made you care for this lost soul without begging for sympathy. And in an evening of three monologues, she played off the other two actors, never showily but always eloquently." Marc Miller, Backstage East, "Performances to Remember, 2007." (Listed among 22 performers from Broadway [Lauren Ambrose: Romeo and Juliet, Deanna Dunnagan: August: Osage County] and Off-Broadway [Allison Pill: Blackbird, Kelly Kinsella: Kelly Kinsella Live! Under Broadway].)
"Cunningham and Vaughan are marvels, both subtly defying expectations about their characters' roles in Mark's life. Even in repose, and there's a lot of it, each stays in character, forcing us to confront Cheryl's bitterness and Nadine's complicated earth-mother makeup even when they're not front and center." Marc Miller, Backstage.
"The play is strongest when we catch a glimpse of the complex personalities that lie beneath the judge-charming caricatures these women have created for themselves. Cunningham believably fleshes out Dot's seemingly mindless character through the slow revealing of hidden facets you wouldn't have guessed she possessed. A climactic speech about her "proudest moment" is stirring and strong, especially in the stunned moment when she trembles with the realization that her mother, aunts, and grandmother fought for equality, and here she stands, a competent woman who saved hundreds of soldiers' lives, struggling to earn respect by ironing a shirt. Within her lies a fiery, determined spirit that has been too easily and thoroughly suppressed." - Adrienne Cea, OffOffOnline.com PICK OF THE WEEK
"Heather E. Cunningham is solid as Mrs. Los Angeles." - Michael Lazan, Backstage
"Cunningham and Burke do a nice job showing the close friendship and banter between the two women." - Josephine Cashman, NYTheatre.com
"Heather E. Cunningham was a knock out as the timid misfit Maria Theresa Russo. Maria struggles with being one in a houseful of siblings, picked on by the nuns and her classmates and it all comes to a quiet and touching boiling point in a stirring monologue. Heather's quiet performance is not easily forgotten. " Akira Squitieri, Theatrescene.net
"... deserves a medal." - Laurel Graeber, New York Times
"The evening starts to shine with Heather E. Cunningham... The real standout in the cast is Cunningham, here coming into her own as a big beautiful woman with a fine voice and a glorious sense of fun." - Elizabeth Finkler, the Welcomat
"... the charismatic Cunningham gives the selections personality and depth... " - James Lewis, Suburban Publications
"Heather E. Cunningham...is always lively and fun" - Dave Nicolette
"... a fine comedienne" - Vic Brody, The Phoenix
"The comical ingredients are securely in the hands of ... and Heather E. Cunningham as the crusty innkeeper." - Dante J.J. Bevilacqua
"And though most of the pint-sized theatre patrons didn't realize it, the part of the witch and the mother were both played by Heather E. Cunningham. It was a great show of versatility." - Bette Alburger, Press Focus
"Heather E. Cunningham scores..." - Elizabeth Finkler, the Welcomat
"...about the splendid ensemble...Heather E. Cunningham as the most visible." - Ford Oglesby, Township Voice
Copyright © heather cunningham. All rights reserved.