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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Manbites Dog Theater announces 2015/16 season

Posted By on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 4:06 PM

Manbites Dog Theater announced its upcoming 2015/16 season today. As usual, the Durham-based company will feature four resident productions, supplemented by an “Other Voices” series of guest artists. The company’s 29th year includes encore productions of noted recent shows by StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance and The Delta Boys. The season opens in October with the regional premiere of Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play, Anne Washburn’s dark comedy, in which an episode of The Simpsons slowly takes on different meanings to survivors of an apocalypse. In December, StreetSigns remounts its five-star production of Howard Craft's Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel...

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Local plays about video game culture and Eugene O’Neill win national recognition

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 11:02 AM

Local playwrights Adrienne Earle Pender and Allan Maule have travel plans to make. This fall, Pender will be the third recipient of a new artist residency at the Eugene O’Neill Foundation, and Maule’s EverScape will be produced in August at the New York International Fringe Festival. Raleigh's Theatre in the Park has produced two of Pender's plays: The Rocker and Somewhere in Between. Her work has also been presented at the National Black Theatre Festival, Edward Albee’s Last Frontier Theatre Conference and the Drama Book Shop in New York. But it was luck, she says, that led her to the...

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Devra Thomas to leave Common Ground Theatre

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2015 at 4:18 PM

A change in leadership is in the works at Durham’s Common Ground Theatre, a performance and teaching space that has nurtured and supported many Triangle theater artists. On July 1, a new executive director, Shelby Hahn, will replace Devra Thomas, who is relocating with her family to Morehead City. “Common Ground serves a really unique purpose within the Triangle theater community,” Thomas told the INDY on Friday. “It was a joy to be able to serve that community by helping people figure out how to do theater, figure out what they wanted to do and what they wanted to say.” In...

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Live review: Peter and the Starcatcher breathes irreverent new life into a story told many times

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 3:57 PM

Peter and the Starcatcher Broadway Series South at Memorial Auditorium Tuesday, March 10, 2015 There’s been a truly ridiculous number of Peter Pan revivals and reboots recently, from December’s uneven TV musical with Christopher Walken as Captain Hook to the children’s cartoon Jake and the Never Land Pirates. More are on the way: See the upcoming film Pan with Hugh Jackman and the movie-based stage musical Finding Neverland. And that’s not counting the recurrence of the boy-who-never-grew-up theme in countless other movies, pieces of popular culture and even foodstuffs. It’s not too surprising that there are so many variations on the original story—Pan’s creator, J.M. Barrie,...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Joseph Haj is leaving PlayMakers—and North Carolina

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 10:33 AM

Joseph Haj is leaving PlayMakers Repertory Company to become Artistic Director of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, starting in July. Haj has been Producing Artistic Director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s professional theater company since 2006, presiding over Shakespeare and Sondheim as well as helping establish a more adventurous second-stage series, PRC2. "We are enormously grateful to Joe for his deep-rooted contributions to PlayMakers," McKay Coble said in a PlayMakers press release. Coble is a UNC Department of Dramatic Art faculty member and PlayMakers designer. Praising Haj’s vision and leadership, Coble said that PlayMakers is “beginning the search for new leadership as...

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Raleigh Little Theatre cancels Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 12:13 PM

Raleigh Little Theatre announced yesterday that it has canceled a scheduled May production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, replacing it with a run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The company reports making the decision on the basis of conversations with the region's Native American community over the fall. The musical satire based on the life of the seventh American president won awards for best musical and book during a run at the Public Theatre before transferring to Broadway in 2010/11. But the controversial work, which recasts American history as a scathing satire in the vein of South Park or...

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Performance review: Taylor Mac's 1910s is a bubbly, serious delight

Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Taylor Mac: 1910s UNC Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill Wednesday, Oct. 1 2014 I hadn’t expected the first time I heard the folk standard “Man of Constant Sorrow” during IBMA week would be from the mouth of a drag performer. But it wasn’t a part of those formal festivities in Raleigh. Rather, this rendition was the rousing second-to-last song performed by gender-bending critical darling Taylor Mac as a part of the 1910s section of the performer’s ambitious 24-decade, 24-hour music project premiering in New York in 2016. 1910s was commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts and tied in with its World War I Centenary...

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Theater review: Rude Mechs bring live-action role playing to Duke Performances

Posted By on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 at 4:26 PM

Rude Mechs Now Now Oh Now Sheafer Lab Theater, 7 p.m., Sept. 26★★★★  Rude Mechs’ Now Now Oh Now is an interactive play about playing—about the transformative potential of playing, to be exact. As a roleplaying game fan and designer, this theme resonates with me. I was curious to see how the Austin, Texas-based theater company would incorporate it in this show, which Duke Performances advertised as being largely based on LARP, or live action role play. LARP represents a continuum of games with strong performative elements. You get up and wave your arms around. Sometimes your fellow players are...

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Monday, July 21, 2014

And now for something completely fan-tastic: Monty Python Live (mostly)

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Monty Python Live (mostly)Rebroadcasts on July 23 and 24, 7:30 p.m. Regal Brier Creek Stadium 14, Regal North Hills Stadium 14, Regal Crossroads 20 ★★★ (general public) ★★★★ ½ stars (Monty Python fans) The sound cut out a minute into the opening number of Sunday’s real-time worldwide broadcast of Monty Python Live (mostly), the elaborate London stage show celebrating the reunion of the legendary comedy troupe. The sold-out crowd at the Brier Creek movie theater let loose a collective groan of frustration as an epic orchestration of “Sit on My Face” played out silently on the screen. “Oh come on,”...

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Design flaws bedevil Death by Design

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 2:08 PM

DEATH BY DESIGN ★★ 1/2 NCSU TheatreFest through June 29 Since frames and red herrings are par for the course in mystery novels, the genre’s aficionados were mostly unfazed when amateur detectives Jane Marple and Jessica Fletcher were recently arrested in a coordinated sting operation. (Miss Marple’s exploits have long been immortalized in the novels of Agatha Christie; Fletcher sleuthed on TV's “Murder She Wrote.”) But thriller fans were shocked—shocked!—when the pair subsequently confessed to heading a sophisticated murder-for-money scheme over much of the last century. “Oh, we didn’t do the first few in,” Marple said in a press conference...

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Theater review: Tarantino’s Yellow Speedo

Posted By on Thu, Jun 5, 2014 at 7:57 AM

Tarantino’s Yellow Speedo ★★★ Little Green Pig at Manbites Dog Theater Through June 7 May was a big month for Durham’s Monica Byrne. On May 20, Crown Publishing Group issued her speculative fiction novel The Girl in the Road, which came armed with big-time blurbs by the likes of Neil Gaiman. (See our review.) Just two days later, Byrne’s latest play, staged by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and directed by Jay O’Berski, opened at Manbites Dog Theater. Both works are connected by the theme of polyamory, which, in the bawdy and anarchic Tarantino’s Yellow Speedo (no relation to Quentin), fuels an...

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Theater review: PlayMakers' Hold These Truths

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Hold These Truths ★★★★★PlayMakers at Kenan Theatre Through April 27 PlayMakers concludes a season remarkable for its thoughtfulness on big topics, whether timely or timeless, with a PRC2 Series production. Hold These Truths spotlights a particularly sordid, shamefully little-known episode in 20th-century American history, and offers a lens through which to look at more immediate concerns. In the nationalistic war fever after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the racism of western states toward Japanese immigrants and their American children turned rabid. It was only intensified by the U.S. government’s decision to strip Japanese-Americans in states along the...

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Theater review: a threadbare Lily at Temple Theatre

Posted By on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 3:55 PM

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily★★ Temple Theatre through Apr. 6 templeshows.com All right, I’m convinced. There is an absolutely ripping yarn to be made from the convergence of the following characters. The first three are historical; the latter three, fictive: Lillie Langtry, d.b.a. “The Jersey Lily,” renowned Victorian actress (and paramour to future King Edward VII), her confidante, Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, Abdul Karim, a controversial, enigmatic and decidedly personal Indian attendant to Queen Victoria, arch-fiend Professor James Moriarty, detective Sherlock Holmes, and  his faithful, long-time associate, Dr. John Watson. I only wish I was nearly...

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Patrick Torres appointed artistic director at Raleigh Little Theatre

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Raleigh Little Theater has announced this morning the appointment of Patrick Torres as its new artistic director. Torres will be the theater's 14th artistic director since its founding in 1936, and the first person of color chosen for that position. The selection comes on the heels of a national search, following the death of longtime artistic director Haskell Fitz-Simons in May, 2013. An award-winning arts educator and director, Torres comes to Raleigh from Austin, Texas, where he has served as middle and high school program director for Creative Action, an arts education organization, since 2011. His production of Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset...

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Theater review: LEO (The Anti-Gravity Show)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM

LEO (The Anti-Gravity Show) ★★★★ NCSU Center Stage at Titmus Theatre  Through March 23 It’s one of those ingeniously simple concepts. Build an open-sided room, laid on its side so that a light bulb “hangs” perpendicular to the left wall. On an adjacent video screen, rotate the live action 90 degrees to the right, so that the wall becomes the ceiling and the floor, a wall. Insert one acrobatic actor/dancer into the room and, for the next hour or so, have him execute choreography that looks equally amazing, in different ways, across both screwy spatial planes. Reap the delighted laughter...

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Theater review: Evita at DPAC

Posted By on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 at 6:07 PM

EVITA ★★★1/2 DPAC Through March 16 Evita is not your typical musical, and Eva Perón is not your typical heroine. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s mythologizing tale of the ambitious woman who rose from poverty to become Argentina’s adored first lady is more of an operatic biography than a plot-driven show, and Eva is more divisive than likeable. This means that the touring production of Evita currently playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center is a reprieve from typical Broadway fare—it’s darker, more complex and filled with talk of morality. But, in an exposition-heavy show about political machinations and social climbing, it’s...

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Neal Bell on In Secret, a new film adaptation of his stage play

Posted By on Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 11:18 AM

After its professional New York premiere, it took almost 17 years for Neal Bell’s stage play Thérèse Raquin to make it to the big screen in the form of the recently-released In Secret, directed by Charlie Stratton and starring Elizabeth Olsen and Oscar Isaac. But for Bell, the result was worth the wait. “It’s exciting and strange,” says Bell, a professor of theater studies at Duke University. “I hadn’t seen the movie until it opened, so I didn’t know what to expect. But I was really surprised and delighted to see that it came out so well.” The film came about after...

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Love's Infrastructure, a striking theatrical collaboration of Torry Bend and Bombadil

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Love's Infrastructure Duke Performances @ PSI Theatre,  Durham Arts Council Closed Jan. 26 Let’s start with the most striking thing about Love’s Infrastructure, the new collaboration between puppeteer Torry Bend and pop-folk trio Bombadil: how the show works. Imagine watching The Muppet Show while simultaneously seeing all the hubbub behind the scenes. While Bombadil plays music, Bend’s crew of designers, managers and puppeteers creates a complex puppet show, projecting the results at the center of the stage, while the “making of”—sets, puppetry, cameras and computers—spills out behind the screen. The delightful opening scene, for example, shows the sun—a round...

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Forget Newsroom. Aaron Sorkin should go back to politics

Posted By on Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

This is an interesting moment for the playwright and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. After months in limbo, his HBO series The Newsroom was just renewed for a third and final season. This should excite hardcore Newsroom fans, but there's another opportunity we'd like to see him pursue—his long-promised adaptation of Andrew Young's tell-all account of John Edwards' downfall, The Politician. Sorkin acquired the rights to Young's book around the time of its publication in 2010, with the final stages of the Edwards drama—the death of Elizabeth Edwards and the besieged politician's subsequent trial for campaign finance fraud and his subsequent...

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

NC Theatre's Elf is lovely but forgettable holiday fare

At Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium through Sunday

Posted By on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 1:38 PM

While I'm not a die-hard fan of the 2003 Will Ferrell-in-tights holiday film Elf, I enjoyed it enough to notice all the times the stage musical version produced by NC Theatre strained to recreate a big laugh line from the film, or introduced some new element to the plot that didn't click. The musical overall is like a beautifully wrapped gift with a pair of socks inside: It's lovely to look at, but ultimately forgettable. As the Santa-raised elf-man Buddy, Will Blum from Broadway's The Book of Mormon affects a high, childlike voice that sometimes sounds more like Michael Jackson...

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A novice attempts to understand Cats at new NC Theatre production

Through Sunday at Memorial Auditorium

Posted By on Wed, Oct 9, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Curtis Brown Grizabella (Jennifer Shrader) confronts kitty mortality in "Cats." CATS YMMV NC Theatre Through Oct. 13 When I was a kid, my parents used to read me T.S. Eliot's poems from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats; as a teen, I owned a best-of-Andrew Lloyd Webber CD before I got into more Sondheim-y composers. And yet, I had never seen Cats, Webber's massively long-running staging of Eliot's poems, until NC Theatre's production at Duke Energy Center's Memorial Auditorium. The reason was simple: By the time I was old enough to go to stage shows myself, I had already...

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Laughter overflows in Theatre Raleigh's dystopian romp Urinetown

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 5:23 PM

URINETOWN  ★★★★Theatre Raleigh/Hot Summer NightsThrough Aug. 11 Theatre Raleigh’s checkered 2013 season has featured some of the best—and worst—work on regional stages this year. It’s a relief, therefore, to report that Wednesday night’s performance of the acerbic 2001 musical URINETOWN represented a nimble, artistic 180-degree turn back into fair territory. A couple of student groups have tackled this savvy, self-aware satire which manages to send up corporate corruption and politics as usual—and idealism, populism and a host of sappy musical theater conventions—after Raleigh Little Theatre’s regional premiere of the work in 2007. But no one’s done it better than...

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Monday, July 8, 2013

What Every Girl Should Know to play NYC Fringe Festival; Indiegogo campaign begins

Posted By on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Monica ByrneMargaret Sanger, in the NYC Fringe program ad for WHAT EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOWAfter its award-winning premiere in 2012, WHAT EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW, Durham playwright Monica Byrne’s speculative drama based on the history of birth control in the United States, is getting an extended life this summer. The work will be presented in August at the New York International Fringe Festival, running for five performances Aug. 15—24 at The Robert Moss Theatre in lower Manhattan. A fundraising campaign supporting the production was launched this morning on indiegogo.com. Set in a Lower East Side Catholic reformatory in 1914, the...

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Moving testimony from former slaves: Bare Theatre's Let Them Be Heard

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 4:42 PM

Jason BaileyPhilip B. Smith and Justin Smith in LET THEM BE HEARDLET THEM BE HEARDBare TheatreStagville State Historic Site7, 8 and 9 p.m., June 14 and 15 One of the closest experiences any of us will have to rival time travel is taking place these nights just after dark in Horton Grove, a verdant section in Stagville, a state historic site several miles out Old Oxford Highway. Prior to the Civil War, Stagville held the dubious distinction of being the largest plantation in North Carolina, and one of the largest in the United States: a spread some 47 square miles...

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Update: Longtime regional director Haskell Fitz-Simons dies at 64

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Raleigh Little TheatreHaskell Fitz-SimonsUPDATE May 14 5:00pm: The funeral for Haskell Fitz-Simons' will be Tuesday, May 21 at 4 p.m. at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 1520 Canterbury Road, Raleigh. A reception will follow in the church's fellowship hall. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Raleigh Little Theatre or Wake County Animal Shelter. Haskell Fitz-Simons, the longtime artistic director of Raleigh Little Theatre, died last night at UNC Hospitals following a lengthy battle with lymphoma. He was 64. The Chapel Hill native had served as a director at the prominent Raleigh community theater for...

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