This summer (between June 21st and Sept. 21), Triangle stages come alive with an eclectic selection of musicals and straight plays. There is, quite literally, something for everyone. Although we have tried our best to identify and provide basic details for all shows, the following local summer theater lineup — presented below in the order that the shows open — is probably incomplete. Please e-mail title, dates, location, etc., of any missing shows to RobertM748@aol.com.
Dial “M” for Murder (University Theatre at N.C. State, June 22-26 in Thompson Theatre) is the third and final production of TheatreFest 2005 — A Month of Mysteries. It is a taut 1952 thriller by Frederick Knott (Wait Until Dark). The UT show, directed by Fred Gorelick, stars Dorothy Recasner Brown and Gregor McElvogue as Margot and Tony Wendice. (For the Robert’s Reviews review and preview, click here)
Carousel (Raleigh Little Theatre, June 22-26) is a stirring 1945 musical fantasy by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The RLT show, directed by Haskell Fitz-Simons, stars Robbie Phillips as Billy Bigelow and Kimberly Wagner as Julie Jordan. (For the Robert’s Reviews review and preview, click here.)
Crossroads (Temple Theatre, June 23-26 in Sanford, NC) is the regional premiere of a new musical comedy written by North Carolina playwright Bob Inman. The Temple Theatre show, directed by outgoing Temple artistic director Jerry Sipp, stars Anne-Caitlin Donohue, Heather Patterson King, Melvin Tunstall III, Ed Pilkington, Kelly Carruth, and William Diggle.
“Graceland” and “Asleep on the Wind” (Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, June 22-26 in the Kennedy Theater in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC) are two interwoven one-act plays written by Ellen Byron. Its characters are all diehard fans of King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley (1935-77). The Hot Summer Nights production, directed by Dr. Kenny C. Gannon of Peace College Theatre, stars Sherri D. Sutton , Estelle Collins, and Chris Chappell. (For the Robert’s Reviews review and preview, click here.)
Performance Improv (inDecision Theater, June 21 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham, NC) is an evening of improvisational comedy.
The Dining Room (The Cary Players, June 22-July 1 in the Page-Walker Building in Cary, NC) is a rib-tickling contemporary comedy by A.R. Gurney (Love Letters and Sylvia). Director Debra Zumbach Grannan will stage this nominee for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. (For the Robert’s Reviews preview, click here.)
The Man from Stratford (Theatre in the Park, June 23-July 3 in Raleigh, NC) is a series of well-known monologues and scenes penned by the immortal Bard of Avon and performed by teenagers participating in TIP’s summer-theater program. Instructors include TIP executive and artistic director Ira David Wood III, David Henderson, Tony and Adrienne Pender, and Steve and Shawn Larson.. Performers include Alex Cristiano, Jesica Harrison, Dalton Hood, Emily Gardenhire, Rita Glynn, Leah Marie Lackey, Jess Lawrence, Kayla Martin, Caitlin Radford, Sam Wisnant, and Christine Zagrobelny.
Skull in Connemara (Wordshed Productions and Ghost & Spice Productions, June 23-July 9 in Studio 6, Swain Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) is a joint presentation of a brilliant but very, very black comedy by prize-winning Irish playwriting prodigy Martin McDonagh. Skull in Connemara is the second play in McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy, following The Beauty Queen of Leenane and preceding Lonesome West. This joint production, directed by UNC Department of Dramatic Art faculty member Gregory Kable, stars Chris Chiron, John Murphy, Jeff Alguire, and Marsha Edmundson.
Grease (North Carolina Kid’s Theatre, June 25 at The Carolina Theatre in Durham, NC) is an NCKT teen intensive summer camp presentation of the fifth-longest-running musical in Broadway history.
The Exonerated (Blue Moon Theatre Company, June 26 at The ArtsCenter) is a staged reading of the 2003 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award-winning play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, who tell the true stories of six wrongfully-convicted survivors of Death Row. The Exonerated will be performed as a benefit for the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice. Hunt, who was incarcerated for 19 years in N.C. prisons before he was exonerated, will participate in the post-show discussion.
PuzzleHunt 2005 (Manbites Dog Theater, June 26 in Durham, NC) is billed as a free“Brain-Bending Adventure of Semi-Epic Proportions!” Manbites Dog invites children of ages to spend 12 noon-3:30 p.m. June 26th searching Durham Central Park and adjacent locations for puzzles and to solve those puzzles to win prizes.
Proof (Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, June 29-July 10) is an offbeat domestic drama for which David Auburn won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Two brilliant mathematicians — an aging father and his daughter/caretaker — must confront and bridge the chasm that separates them. The show, directed by Kenny Gannon, stars Gigi Delizza, Tracey Phillips, Chris Chappell, and Michael Kennedy.
Performance Improv (Dirty South Improv Theater and inDecision Theater, June 28 at Skylight Exchange in Chapel Hill) is an evening of improvisational comedy featuring two on the area’s leading troupes.
Alice in Wonderland (Towne Players of Garner, June 30 and July 1 at Garner Church of Christ) is a children’s show based on the beloved fantastical tale by Lewis Carroll.
A Guy’s Tale (Cap & Gown Theatre Company and the Carolina Production Guild, July 6 and previews in the Hanes Arts Center Auditorium and July 8-20 performances in Room 100 of Hamilton Hall at UNC-Chapel Hill) is a one-man show written and performed by recent UNC graduate Adam Bergeron and directed by Cap & Gown Theatre Company founder Bryan Cohen, with film by Chris Erb of the Carolina Production Guild. Cohen writes, “A Guy’s Tale shows the mind of a 22-year old male as he goes through a long-term dating relationship. It probes into how a guy thinks when meeting a girl, what he loves about her, what sex means to him, and how much it hurts when she breaks up with him. The protagonist, Mike, dispels myths about what a man should be, discussing how a true man should treat women and how he should be treated in return.”
Songs & Scenes from Sam/Sara (The Open Eye Crew, July 7-9 at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham, NC) is a new musical by former Squirrel Nut Zippers mainstay Tom Maxwell and N.C. playwright John Justice (Two Sams and Raney), both of Pittsboro. Justice calls the show a “showcase premiere of a performance meditation on human appetite, suffering, and kindness.” David Beckmann will direct the show.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (North Carolina Theatre, July 9-17) is the classic 1972 West End (London) and 1982 Broadway rock musical by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The gala NCT production stars pop singer and two-time Grammy winner Sheena Easton (“Morning Train”) as The Narrator.
Ten by Ten in the Triangle (The ArtsCenter, July 14-24 in Carrboro, NC) is a competition in which ten 10-minute plays vie for audience approval as the best play of the evening. The July lineup includes “Costumes” by Stephen Hyers, “Dress Black” by Ellen Lewis, “Hit Me” by Patrick Cleary, “Inheritance” by Laura Schellhardt, “Insomnia” by Patrick Gabridge, “Key to the Mystic Halls of Time” by Matt Casarino, “Marginalia” by Kendall Rileigh, “Naked Mole Rats in the World of Darkness” by Mike Folie, “The Morons” by Kelly McAllister, and “Turtle Shopping” by Scott McMorrow.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Kidstuf, July 15-17 at the Temple Theatre in Sanford, NC) is a stage version of the beloved fairy tale performed by participants at the Kidstuf Summer Theatre Camp for young people aged 8-18.
Sleeping Beauty (Raleigh Little Theatre, July 15-24 in the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre) is John Clark Donahue and Thomas Olson’s stage adaptation of the familiar fairy tale of the sleeping princess and the handsome prince who awakens her with a kiss. The show features original music by RLT artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons. These performances are the culmination of RLT’s five-week Teens on Stage program.
The Underpants (Actors Comedy Lab, July 15-31 in N.C. State University’s Thompson Theatre Studio) is actor/comedian Steve Martin’s zany adaptation of the 1910 sex farce Die Hose by German dramatist Carl Sternheim (1878-1943). ACL writes, “As the play opens, Theo Maske, an officious puritanical bureaucrat, berates his wife, Louise, for allowing her titular underpants to fall to the ground at a parade for the king. Theo frets that he and Louise will be financially ruined and become social outcasts from the inevitable scandal. But before long, besotted men appear at Maske’s door to rent a room — and, unnoticed by the proprietor, to seduce his wife. As scandal erupts into spectacle, the characters reflect, and reflect upon, our fascination with fame, our reliance on gender roles, and our enslavement by sex.”
The Wiz (North Carolina Kid’s Theatre, July 16-23 at The Carolina Theatre) is a children’s-theater production of the 1975 Broadway musical based on the 1939 motion-picture version of 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. This African-American version of the story features music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls and a book by William F. Brown. The NCKT production of THE WIZ will star Rita Glynn, Dale Sanders, and Yolanda Rubin.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, July 20-31) is a 1955 masterpiece of Modern Drama by Mississippi playwright Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams (1911-83). The Hot Summer Nights show, directed by directed by Kenny Gannon, stars local favorite Lamont Wade as Big Daddy and Broadway veterans Matt Bogart and Jessica Boevers as Brick and Maggie the Cat.
Titus Andronicus (Bare Theatre’s Rogue Company, July 27-31 at the Common Ground Theatre) is an early and very bloody Shakespearean tragedy set in ancient Rome and first performed in 1593-94. The show, directed by Carmen-maria Mandley, stars Marcie Darymple, Alex Davis, Jes Gephart, Anna Gettles, Lucinda Harris, Ashley Isenhower, Austin Krieger, Laura Jernigan, Owen Day Jones, Joe Kirlauski, Brant Miller, Sam Mohar, Adam Patterson, Steph Rahl, Kat Randle, Asher Robinson, Kevin Selig, Jarrod Swart, Elijah Vick, and Claire Wagner.
Misery (Neuse Little Theatre, July 29-Aug. 6 in Smithfield, NC) is Simon Moore’s suspenseful stage adaptation of Stephen King’s book about drunken romance novelist Paul Sheldon, who is injured in an automobile accident and rescued and cared for by Annie, his self-proclaimed biggest fan who really does not cotton to the idea that he plans to kill off his popular heroine in his next book. Andrew Britt will direct the show.
The Jungle Book (Missoula Children’s Theatre, July 30 at The ArtsCenter) is an original musical version of the classic 1894 children’s book by Bombay, India-born British author Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). The ArtsCenter writes, “…[T]he twist in this instance, is that the cast will be entirely composed of local kids, aged from 5-17. The kids will have been working intensively for five days with the two actor/directors who are with us from Missoula, before presenting their production of The Jungle Book.”
Starting Here, Starting Now (Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, Aug. 3-14) is a 1977 Off-Broadway musical revue by composer David Shire and lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. The Hot Summer Nights show, directed by Debra Gillingham, with musical direction by Julie Flinchum, stars North Carolina Theatre Conservatory voice instructor Marie Cuchetti, local opera and theater veteran Monique Argent, and Peace College Theatre and Hot Summer Nights director Kenny Gannon.
Macbeth (The Carolina Arts Festival and the Town of Cary, Aug. 4-6 in Sertoma Amphitheater in Bond Park) is a Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of all-consuming ambition that leads to murder, set in 11th century Scotland. Publicity director Matthew Addison writes, “Director Noah Putterman provides a fresh and modern approach to Shakespeare’s classic work, with a cast entirely of local youth performers.”
The Veggietales Rockin’ Tour Live (RBC Center, Aug.11 in Raleigh) is two live performances featuring the VeggieTales characters, songs, and trademark brand of wacky humor (http://www.bigidea.com/).
Into the Woods Jr. (KidZPlay Productions and Theatre in the Park, Aug. 12-14 at TIP) is a children’s version of the 1987 Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine based on familiar fairy tales, such as “Cinderella,” “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel,” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” Donna Sullivan-Khouri and Allison Lawrence will co-direct the show.
The Spitfire Grill (Raleigh Little Theatre, Aug. 12-28 in RLT’s Cantey V. Sutton Theatre) is the North Carolina premiere of a new musical by James Valco and Fred Alley based on the 1996 film written and directed by Lee David Zlotoff. “With a soaring score drawn from America’s heartland,” writes RLT, “The Spitfire Grill celebrates the passionate spirit of renewal and triumph and offers a captivating vision of the America we want to believe in, but can’t always find.”
Lauren Kennedy & Alan Campbell in Concert (Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, Aug. 17-28) is a concert that showcases the vocal talent of Raleigh native Lauren Kennedy and her husband and fellow Broadway star, Alan Campbell.
Driving Miss Daisy (Towne Players of Garner, Aug. 18-20) is Alfred Uhry’s moving drama of an interracial friendship in the South. This show, directed by Beth Honeycutt, is a reprise of the theater’s award-winning production starring Frances Stanley as Miss Daisy and Holmes Morrison as Hoke.
The Modern Olympia (Ape & Astronaut Theater Company, Aug. 18-28 at Common Ground Theatre) is an original comedy written by local playwright Craig Payst and directed by Fred Corlett. Payst writes, “In a garret in Paris in 1862, nothing is going right for Theophile LeClerc. The only paintings he’s selling are the ones on window blinds. His model is strident, willful, and uncooperative. While he labors in obscurity, his friend [French Impressionist painter] Edouard Manet’s career is just starting to take off. Depressed, lonely, and starving, he’s ready to end it all. Then the Americans show up and things really start to go wrong.”
Back to School Show (Transactors Improv Co., Aug. 27-28 at The ArtsCenter) is another evening of improvisational comedy based upon audience suggestions. “School days are here again and Transactors Improv explores the unique excitement and/or horror of this time of year from the perspective of students, teachers, and parents,” says director Greg Hohn. In addition to Hohn, scheduled performers include Regina Bartolone, Joe Brack, Jill Greeson, Nancy Pekar, Steve Scott, and Steven Warnock. Pianist Glenn Mehrbach will provide instrumental accompaniment, and Mike Beard will improvise special lighting and sound effects.
The Taming of the Shew (Burning Coal Theatre Company, Sept. 15-Oct. 2 in the Kennedy Theatre) is the epic battle of the sexes and one of Shakespeare’s bawdiest plays. Jerome Davis will direct the show, which was first performed in 1593-94. Shrew will star Wilmington actress Debra Gillingham, Raleigh’s Carmen-maria Mandley and Lynne-Marie Guglielmi, Stephen LeTrent, Bob Barr, Becca Johnson, Noelle Barnard, Danijela Lalarevic, Kendall Rileigh, Juanita Frederick, Ryan Nazionale, Jason Weeks, Luke Custer, and Heather Fisher.
The Story (Raleigh Little Theatre, Sept. 9-25 in the Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre) is the North Carolina premiere of a new play by prize-winning African-American playwright Tracey Scott Wilson. RLT writes, “An ambitious black newspaper reporter, Yvonne Wilson, goes against her editor, Pat Morgan, to investigate a murder and finds the BEST story…but at what cost? Explore the elusive nature of truth as the boundaries between reality and fiction, morality and ambition become dangerously blurred.”
Camelot (North Carolina Theatre, Sept. 10-18) is the classic 1960 Broadway musical about King Arthur, Queen Guenevere, Sir Lancelot, etc., written by Frederick Loewe (music) and Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics and libretto based on The Once and Future King by T. H. White).
An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin (Duke Performances, Sept. 15 in Page Auditorium in Durham, NC) is one-woman show featuring the ever-popular comedienne (http://www.lilytomlin.com/).
Schoolhouse Rock Live! (North Carolina Kid’s Theatre, Sept. 15 and 16 at The Carolina Theatre) is a children’s show inspired by the titular television program. NCKT writes, “Tom, a young teacher, is at home, nervously preparing for his very first day at school. To relax, he watches television and is surprised to see ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ a 1970’s educational animated series. Five people suddenly appear in Tom’s house. Manifestations of the different sides of Tom’s personality, they have gathered to give Tom the confidence he needs and to show him how to win his students over with imagination and music.”
“Art” (Theatre in the Park, Sept. 16-25) is Christopher Hampton’s translation of a brilliant new play by Yasmina Reza. It won the 1996 Olivier Award for Best Comedy and the 1998 Tony Award for Best Play.
For Theater Contact Information, see our theatre links section, where we now list telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, and Internet addresses for slected Triangle theaters.
Other Summer Theater Productions in “The State of the Arts”
“The State of the Arts,” a.k.a. “The Birthplace of Outdoor Drama in America,” offers a delightful smorgasbord of fine theater all summer long. Some highlights include:
Robert’s Reviews ran a comprehensive Outdoor Drama Preview in its June 9th issue. For details of N.C. outdoor dramas, click here. For a state-by-state directory of the nation’s outdoor dramas, compiled by the Institute of Outdoor Drama at UNC-Chapel Hill, see http://www.unc.edu/depts/outdoor/dir/ [inactive 10/09].
ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre
The ECU/Loessin Summer Theatre, now in its 34th season, will open June 21st in McGinnis Theatre, off Fifth St., on the East Carolina University campus in Greenville, NC. This year’s musicals include:
Grease (June 21-25), a 1972 Broadway musical with book, music, and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey. ECU writes, “This is the 1950's rock 'n' roll musical. Gum chewing, hubcap stealing, hot rod loving boys with D.A.'s and their wise cracking girls in bobby sox and pedal pushers capture the look and sound of the 1950's in a rollicking musical. The gang sings and dances its way through such nostalgic scenes as the pajama party, the prom, the burger palace, and the drive in movie.” The ECU production, directed by John Shearin, stars New York actor Chris Van Hoy as Danny and Angela Sephton as Sandy.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (July 5-9), an Off-Broadway musical with music by Jimmy Roberts and book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro. I Love You (http://www.loveperfectchange.com/ [inactive 8/06]) is currently the longest-running Off-Broadway musical; it opened Aug. 1, 1996 at the Long Wharf Theatre and is still running! ECU writes, “This celebration of the mating game takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum know as ‘the relationship.’ Four actors tackle scores of characters as this hilarious revue celebrates the journey from dating and marriage to the agonies and triumphs of in-laws and newborns.” The ECU production, directed by Robert Caprio, stars New York actors Ali McLennan and Jeff Williams and ECU faculty members Karen Hall and Michael Tahaney.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (July 19-23), a 1978 Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Carol Hall and book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson. ECU writes, “This happy-go-lucky view of small town vice and statewide political side stepping recounts the good times and the demise of the Chicken Ranch, known since the 1850s as one of the better pleasure palaces in all of Texas. Governors, senators, mayors, and even victorious college football teams frequent Miss Mona's cozy bordello until that puritan nemesis Watchdog focuses his television cameras and his righteous indignation on the institution.” The ECU production, directed by John Shearin, stars Broadway veteran Michael Scott as the Sheriff and Triangle actress Lynda Clark as Miss Mona.
North Carolina Shakespeare Festival
The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, which the N.C. General Assembly designated as “The State Shakespeare Festival,” will open its 29th season on Sept. 2nd at the High Point Theatre at 220 E. Commerce Ave. in downtown High Point. This year’s plays, performed in rotating repertory, include:
Julius Caesar (Sept. 2-30), a timely tragedy of ancient Roman political intrigue written in 1599-1600 by English dramatist William Shakespeare (1564-1616). “Can history’s most famous assassination be justified on grounds of patriotism and national security?” asks NCSF. “Shakespeare’s powerful drama focuses on intrigue, passion, ambition, and honor amid uncontrollable forces both personal and political in a great and powerful nation.” Henson Keys will direct the show.
As You Like It (Sept. 9-Oct. 1), a lively pastoral comedy also written by Shakespeare in 1599-1600. NCSF writes, “This lush romantic comedy tells the story of the lovers Rosalind and Orlando who flee city life for the pastoral setting of the Forest of Arden, a place where physical beauty and tranquility of spirit replace the harshness of life at court, and love flourishes (or does it?). In this romantic setting Shakespeare introduces some of his most brilliant and witty characters: Touchstone, the clown; the banished Duke Senior; the country shepherds, Phoebe and Silvius; and the melancholy philosopher, Jacques.” Ron Bashford will direct the show.
For more information about the NCSF, visit http://www.ncshakes.org/. For more information about the High Point Theatre, visit http://www.highpointtheatre.com/. For tickets, telephone 336/887-3001 or visit http://highpointtheatre.com/buytickets.htm [inactive 3/06]. For group rates, telephone 336/841-2273, ext. 226, or e-mail email@example.com. Note 1: After closing in High Point, the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival will bring its productions of Julius Caesar (Oct. 4, 5, and 7) and As You Like It (Oct. 6-9) to the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater at the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., in downtown Raleigh. Note 2: The third show of the NCSF’s 29th season is A Christmas Carol, which will play Dec. 1-13 at the High Point Theatre and Dec. 16-18 at the North Carolina School of the Arts Stevens Center in Winston-Salem.
Other Theatrical Offerings
Classical Voice of North Carolina maintains a statewide listing of upcoming theatrical events; click here. The North Carolina Theatre Conference, Inc., also offers two lists of “Coming Attractions” produced by this state’s theater troupes: http://www.nctc.org/theatrenc/nctconlineupdate/index.shtml [inactive 9/05] (May-August) and http://www.nctc.org/theatrenc/nctconlineupdate/index.shtml#september [inactive 9/05] (September).
To obtain a comprehensive month-by-month list of summer theatrical offerings from Manteo to Murphy, see the Arts Events Calendar compiled by the North Carolina Arts Council: http://www.ncarts.org/calendar.cfm [inactive 1/06]. Currently, this web page displays all June 2005 events. To display July, August, and September events, go to the bottom of the page and change the month.
The N.C. Department of Commerce's Division of Tourism, Film, and Sports Development also offers a complete "What to Do" list that includes the performing arts: http://www.visitnc.com/home_what_to_do.asp [inactive 2/09].