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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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Friday, May 10, 2013

A loopy musical send-up with a heart: this Drowsy Chaperone's no sleeper

Posted By on Fri, May 10, 2013 at 1:58 PM

Curtis BrownShe doesn't really want to show off: Paige Faure as unwilling Broadway bombshell Janet Van De Graaff, in THE DROWSY CHAPERONETHE DROWSY CHAPERONENorth Carolina TheatreThrough May 12 Musical theater fans can be quite rigid in their tastes, and even more so once they’ve reached a certain age. Take this tart little number, whom I encountered the other night in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Mere moments from the opening curtain, he was already griping to me about the long-term decline of the American musical—and at a North Carolina Theatre show, no less: They’re too disappointing. Too long. And then there are...

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

(Far) too much of a good thing: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at DPAC

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 6:43 PM

(c) Joan MarcusFashion risk? Wade McCollum, Scott Willis and Bryan West in PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERTPRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERTDurham Performing Arts CenterThrough May 5 Its characters may or may not be the kind of folks they used to warn some of us about back on the farm. But PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT is most definitely the kind of show they warned me about in grad school. “Beware of spectacle,” one theater teacher said. “Sure, it’s flashy. And it’s undeniably effective—in the short term. "But as the audience acclimates to it, it takes greater and greater dosages just...

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Making Stravinsky human through spoken word and song

Posted By on Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Spring TrainingPRC2Kenan TheatreCloses April 28 Universes, the Bronx-based performance troupe that fuses spoken word, song, rhythm and theater, epitomizes the concept of arts-as-multidisciplinary. The performers who comprise Universes—all of whom are persons of color—serve as storytellers and poets and music-makers. They're also social critics who aim to give voice to the silenced. And, for the most part, they succeed in doing so without being too heavy-handed. That’s no easy feat. Their newest piece, Spring Training, currently has its world premiere at PRC2 in Chapel Hill. Commissioned by Carolina Performing Arts and PlayMakers Repertory Company as part of their Rite of...

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Contrived horrors after fathers never come back home: Young Jean Lee's LEAR at Duke Theater Studies

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 7:32 PM

LEARDuke Theater StudiesSheafer Lab Theaterclosed April 14Les Todd/Duke Theater StudiesFaye Goodwin as Cordelia, in Young Jean Lee's LEARIn the current PlayMakers Rep production of Cabaret, would-be American novelist Clifford Bradshaw says that 1932 Berlin is “like a bunch of kids playing in their room—getting wilder and wilder—and knowing any minute their parents are going to come home.” Young Jean Lee’s LEAR has a similar feel to it, with one marked exception: In this case, the parents are never coming home—not after King Lear and Gloucester, the fathers of the quintet we ultimately see on stage, have both been stripped of...

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

A problematic Elektra, on the trail of a generational dilemma

Posted By on Sat, Apr 13, 2013 at 10:17 AM

ELEKTRA2 stars (out of 5) Chip RodgersMeredith Studio TheaterThrough Apr. 14 I love it when a theater review heralds the arrival of a new artist or a new work of art. Sorry, but this isn’t one of those. Instead, we have more of a report from the road that director / adaptor / designer Chip Rodgers is currently exploring. His certainly audacious—and, at times, extremely frustrating—new adaptation of the ancient Greek drama ELEKTRA, whose workshop production runs through Sunday at Meredith College’s studio theater, is a work that can only be said to be in process. Still, presently, it’s headed...

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Embrace your inner goddess: 50 Shades of musical kink

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Photo by Michael BrosilowUnless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard of E.L. James’ best-selling erotic romance series Fifty Shades of Grey. The trilogy had less than illustrious origins: The first book began as a piece of self-published online Twilight fan fiction. But the series—known as “mommy porn” by some—catapulted to fame thanks to the power of word-of-mouth and the thrill of the transgressive. For many readers, the tale of the sadomasochistic relationship between young Anastasia Steele and sexy millionaire Christian Grey was their first foray into smutty literature. To date, the Fifty Shades series has sold more than...

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Lush life: Anything Goes is a dazzling, old-fashioned romp

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM

Photo by Joan Marcus ANYTHING GOES* * * * 1/2 stars@ DPACThrough March 24 “Times have changed,” croons dazzling nightclub star Reno Sweeney in the title song of Anything Goes. “The world has gone mad today and good’s bad today.” Maybe so, but the touring production of this Broadway revival shows that some good things have staying power. This comic tale of romance and madcap hijinks aboard a luxury liner originally opened on Broadway in 1934, starring the legendary Ethel Merman as Sweeney. Nearly 80 years later, Cole Porter’s delicious songs set against an updated book by Timothy Crouse and...

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Local playwright Monica Byrne lands major book deal with first novel

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 9:10 PM

D.L. AndersonDurham playwright Monica ByrneCrown Publishing Group, a division of publishing giant Random House, has signed a major book deal with Durham playwright Monica Byrne for the rights to publish her first novel, The Girl in the Road, in 2014. Details of the arrangement were released over the weekend on the website for Publishers Marketplace, an industry publication. “I wanted to scream,” Byrne recalls when she received news of the agreement at the end of last week. “[My agent] was excited, everyone was so excited, and so pleased by the deal, which was considerable.” Crown signed what Byrne characterized as...

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Monday, March 4, 2013

The most amazing season, eh? A closer look at DPAC's new Broadway line-up

Posted By on Mon, Mar 4, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Photo by Joan MarcusThe Book of Mormon comes to Durham Feb. 11-23, 2014.To summarize the lineup of touring Broadway shows coming through the Durham Performing Arts Center’s new season as succinctly as possible: Hope you like Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sir Andrew’s work may be found in three of the seven new shows announced at DPAC’s SunTrust Broadway Preview Event on Friday, specifically the touring version of the recently-closed revival of Evita, the 2011 West End musical version of The Wizard of Oz film with new songs by Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, and a whole concert featuring songs from Lloyd...

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Take it from us: Monty Python's Spamalot is for fans and non-fans alike

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Photo by Scott SuchmanThe Spamalot ensembleSPAMALOT* * * * starsNC Theatre@ Raleigh Memorial Auditorium A confession: I never totally understood the "classic" status of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I remember watching it for the first time in seventh grade at my friend’s house, and I remember how bewildered I was as she howled and quoted every line. I mean, it was amusing, but was it one of the funniest movies of all time? That seemed doubtful. It was so dumb and old-fashioned and low-budget and … British. I had the feeling I was missing the joke. So, as...

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mary Poppins is witty and colorful, if not supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 2:37 PM

Kyle FromanMadeline Trumble and Con O'Shea-Creal as Mary Poppins and BertMARY POPPINS* * * 1/2 starsThrough Feb. 17Durham Performing Arts Center The touring production of the stage musical version of Disney's Mary Poppins, co-created by Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera hitmaker Cameron Mackintosh and appearing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through Feb. 17, is an odd experience, depending on which version of Mary Poppins you know. If you're mostly familiar with the 1964 film with Julie Andrews, this version jettisons many of the songs, scenes and plot points, creates a completely different conflict for the second act...

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Home movies at Mike's place? AMERICAN UTOPIAS at DPI Theatre

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 6:54 PM

AMERICAN UTOPIAS3.5 stars (out of five)Mike DaiseyDuke PerformancesPSI Theatre, Durham Arts CouncilThrough Feb. 3 Since it’s my first time in the room since renovations in 2011, I’m a little shocked when I enter Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theater on Wednesday night. Monologist Mike DaiseyThe stage is now conventionally draped; its lighting grid professionally concealed, for the first time in memory, behind black cloth borders known as teasers. On its floor, a subtle coat of matte gray has replaced the reflective white surface that so effectively bounced the theatrical light—in all directions—during every production staged there in the 1990s and 2000s....

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nerds, a new musical about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, premieres in Raleigh

Posted By on Sat, Jan 19, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Photo by Curtis Brown PhotographyDiana DeGarmo and other performers in NerdsHalf a dozen nerds cross the stage at the A.J. Fletcher Theater holding their homemade computers, hoping to launch their careers and, more importantly, make friends. Behind them, a computer motherboard acts as a backdrop, with dozens of LED screens providing commentary. Director Marc Bruni stops the action: the screens are blank. “The lights aren’t talking to each other,” says a technician. Thus this rehearsal, for a new musical about the rise of the digital world, has to pause in order to fix a computer. North Carolina Theatre’s Nerds: A...

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Leave 'em wanting more: Deborah Cox sparkles, briefly, in Jekyll and Hyde at DPAC

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Photo by Charles BennionConstantine Maroulis and Deborah CoxJekyll and Hyde: The Musical* * 1/2 starsDurham Performing Arts CenterThrough Jan. 13Tickets $35-$95 If you’re not a Deborah Cox fan, you’ll probably become one if you see Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical at the Durham Performing Arts Center this week. The Grammy-nominated R&B star pushes the rest of the cast out of the way with her round, rich voice and nuanced singing. It’s too bad this show doesn’t keep her onstage enough. Cox, as hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Lucy Harris, belts bawdy brothel songs like “Bring On the Men” as well as she croons moony...

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Friday, December 7, 2012

A bittersweet ballroom: Million Dollar Quartet at DPAC

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 11:47 AM

photo by Jeremy DanielCody Slaughter as Elvis, in MILLION DOLLAR QUARTETMILLION DOLLAR QUARTET4 stars (out of 5)DPACThrough Dec. 9 The live band is cooking, and dead ringers for the first generation of rockabilly royalty nail rave-ups from “Who Do You Love” to “Great Balls of Fire.” But even at its full (and considerable) force, the 2007 jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet seems haunted by something surprising, given the supposed durability of the subject matter. It’s hard not to conclude that Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott’s book ultimately celebrates—and mourns—its evanescence. Yes, history proved Sun Records founder Sam Phillips right when...

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Are your names on our list? INDY WEEK'S Year In Theater nominations now open

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Sure. It's a good list. But it isn't ours...As happens about this time each December, INDY WEEK's critics are busy putting their heads together and reloading a full year's work in regional theater. In short, you could almost say they're making a list and checking it...well, a great deal more than twice. The List for 2012, our final take on excellence in regional theater, will publish in our issue of Dec. 19. But if you'd rather write the headlines, here's your chance. Leave your nominations for excellence in this year's regional productions in the comments below. (Or, if you're the...

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Catch Me If You Can soars on live jumping jive—before a bumpy landing...

Posted By on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 at 9:08 AM

Carol RoseggFrank Abagnale (Stephen Anthony) and friends, in Catch Me If You CanCATCH ME IF YOU CAN 3.5 stars (out of 5)Broadway Series South/NC TheatreThrough Nov. 11 Frank Abagnale’s life story, vividly related in the jazzy Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can, beggars belief. A prodigy as an adolescent (albeit at check kiting and gaming various mechanisms in the American financial system), before age 18 he’d rung up well over $1 million dollars in multiple bank frauds. By 21, he'd established and lived under at least eight separate assumed identities, posing (and traveling across the world) as an airline...

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

The minimalist, highly personal multimedia pioneer Meredith Monk at Duke; final performance tonight

Posted By on Sat, Nov 3, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Photo by K. Scott SchaferMEREDITH MONK Nov. 2-3Duke Performances, Reynolds Industries Theater Multimedia mama Meredith Monk has been at Duke on a residency for two weeks, and last night presented a show in Reynolds Theater that brought her past into the present. The show repeats tonight—who knows when you might have another opportunity to see and hear the woman so important to the beginnings of a strain of art that we take for granted today. Monk isn’t for everyone, and this work will appear dated in some ways—because it is. You will probably feel more satisfied by if you realize...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Omigod you guys: NC Theatre's Legally Blonde—The Musical is fun but thin

Through Sunday at Memorial Auditorium

Posted By on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM

LEGALLY BLONDE—THE MUSICAL* * * starsNC Theatre@ Raleigh Memorial AuditoriumThrough Oct. 14 Of the approximately nine billion theatrical films rebranded onto Broadway, Legally Blonde is a smoother translation than most—it's easy to envision Judy Holliday or Kristin Chenoweth in their younger years as Elle Woods, the smarter-than-she-looks sorority queen who brings her pink wardrobe to Harvard Law in pursuit of an ex-boyfriend. The show presented at NC Theatre's production of Legally Blonde: The Musical could have worked perfectly well as a from-scratch show with its witty lyrics and endless energy. However, the show is occasionally dragged down by the need...

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

The animals have the advantage in War Horse

Posted By on Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 6:18 PM

© Brinkhoff/Mögenburg 2011Horses in wartime: Topthorn and Joey, from WAR HORSE.WAR HORSE3.5 stars (out of 5)Durham Performing Arts CenterThrough Oct. 7 The image has come to symbolize the chaos and carnage of war: A panic-stricken horse, impaled by a spear, whose death-dance dominates the center of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. Man’s inhumanity to man is a fundamental trope in the discourse of war—and one we can grow all too quickly numb to. But evidence of the widespread suffering of animals—in World War I accounts of biological agent testing, or the massacre at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo in 1943—provides a different, and...

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Monday, September 17, 2012

One hell of a tale, in a Scottish pub: The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart

Posted By on Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Photo by Drew FarrellMelody Grove in The Strange Undoing of Prudencia HartTHE STRANGE UNDOING OF PRUDENCIA HART4 stars (out of 5)National Theatre of Scotland@ Back Bar (Top of the Hill)Through Sept. 20 If strange be the tales that are invoked by strong drink, the National Theatre of Scotland has ginned up a production to match in The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart. But if any expect the gravitas of Black Watch, the Iraqi War documentary drama which got our nod for five stars when the company performed here last February, they’re in for a shock. Instead, playwright David Grieg’s 2011...

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

There's only one Nina Simone: Weekend of tributes opens at UNC

Posted By on Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Sonja Haynes Stone CenterFive words: Zoe Saldana is Nina Simone. Those words have already summoned the disgust of fans, admirers and even Simone family members, who don’t think casting the light-skinned, Avatar ingénue as the late, legendary artist is a good idea. The New York Times recently reported that one woman posted an online petition that called for the producers of an upcoming biopic to cast someone who could pass for the darker-skinned Simone. Meanwhile, Simone Kelly, Simone’s daughter (who wrote on Simone’s official Facebook page that the project was unauthorized and Simone’s estate was not asked to participate in...

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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Amazing Kreskin gets into your head at ArtsCenter tonight

Posted By on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Decades after he rose to prominence in the 1970s, the Amazing Kreskin remains a pop culture touchstone and a busy performer whose touring takes him to the Carrboro ArtsCenter tonight. For many, his name is synonymous with hypnosis, predictions and finding the check for his appearance in the audience. In a call from his home in New Jersey, Kreskin (real name: George Joseph Kresge) says he's grateful for his career longevity. “With the economy as tough as it is, I guess I’m pretty blessed, because I did 261 appearances around the world. The airline company [I use] announced I’d flown...

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Heroic puppetry, but how late? Hot Summer Nights / Theatre Raleigh's AVENUE Q

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 6:23 PM

photo by Lauren KennedyThe cast of Hot Summer Nights / Theatre Raleigh's AVENUE QAVENUE Q4 stars (out of 5)Hot Summer Nights / Theatre RaleighFletcher Opera House, Progress Energy Centerthrough Aug. 19www.hotsummernightsatthekennedy.org It’s hard enough being one character on stage in a musical. In Hot Summer Nights / Theater Raleigh’s lively production of AVENUE Q, Heather Maggs, Adam Poole and Erik and Annie Floor play ten. They’re the heroic puppeteers animating, speaking and singing the roles of the self-described “people of fur” (and fuzz) who occupy this slightly scuzzy neighborhood well beyond the city’s high-rent district. And since their characters weave...

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Thanks RobU. This review ran online only.

by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on Theater Review: Three Shakespeare Plays Are Pared Down to a Ninety-Minute Game of Dramatic Chess in Henry VI (Arts)

Great review! Since it was out in previous paper, how do we get this in print? Possible to order it?

by RobU on Theater Review: Three Shakespeare Plays Are Pared Down to a Ninety-Minute Game of Dramatic Chess in Henry VI (Arts)

This show is dreadful. I watched clips of the London production which lacked the wonderful sets in the Australian production. …

by mrappleby on Love never dies, but many terrible musicals have: Sitting through Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom sequel. (Arts)

Awesome summation of the beauty and skill surrounding this tap festival! Great Job Dan!
Annabel's mom💕 …

by Dcable on Dance Review: Tap Genius Michelle Dorrance Brings It Home at the NC Rhythm Tap Festival (Arts)

Comments

Thanks RobU. This review ran online only.

by Brian Howe, INDY managing editor for arts & culture on Theater Review: Three Shakespeare Plays Are Pared Down to a Ninety-Minute Game of Dramatic Chess in Henry VI (Arts)

Great review! Since it was out in previous paper, how do we get this in print? Possible to order it?

by RobU on Theater Review: Three Shakespeare Plays Are Pared Down to a Ninety-Minute Game of Dramatic Chess in Henry VI (Arts)

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