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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Will to Live Cautiously Returning? Here's a Few Things to Do This Week.

Posted By and on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 3:26 PM

STAGE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15–SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20 SPAMALOT “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!” We’ve become so much more politically sophisticated since the time of King Arthur. Still, anyone feeling nostalgic for the days of the Round Table—or the Tony award-winning 2005 musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail—should catch NC Theatre’s revival of Spamalot, starring Broadway’s Jeff McCarthy and Ta’Rea Campbell. Jennifer Werner directs. —Byron Woods RALEIGH MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM, RALEIGH STAGE WEDNESDAY,...

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Theater Review: Dividing and Conquering by Lying and Stirring Base Emotions in Richard III

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 2:28 PM

Richard III ★★★★ Through Nov. 20 Bare Theatre @ Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh Seth Blum’s disarmingly matter-of-fact—and absolutely lethal—take on Richard, the implacable Duke of Gloucester, was one of the most vivid performances in a late-summer production of Henry VI: The War of the Roses. His patient explanations of Richard’s psychopathic plans to achieve the crown by pruning the royal family trees suggested a character from House of Cards, a “fifteenth-century Frank Underwood, minus the charming Southern accent,” as we noted at the time. So we were enthused to learn Bare Theatre let director Lucinda Danner Gainey continue pursuing that...

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Theater Review: Two Turtle Doves Skims the Underside of Sports and Small-Town Sleaze

Posted By on Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 1:49 PM

Two Turtle Doves ★★★ ½ Through Nov. 12 Common Ground Theatre, Durham There’s a hint of the unsavory from the outset of local playwright Mark Cornell’s Two Turtle Doves, now in its premiere production at Common Ground Theatre. The off-avocado wallpaper and aged amenities on designer Jeff Alguire’s set suggest a time-share resort half gone to seed. And after Meredith, a sullen girl with a flat east Carolina accent, cusses out a hotel clerk on the phone, our unease is unabated when a visibly uncomfortable—and much older—man named James emerges from the bathroom in a snorkel and swimsuit and tries...

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Theater News: Common Ground Theatre to Go Dark in December

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Common Ground Theatre, the influential, intimate Durham venue that has nurtured regional independent theater and improv comedy throughout its twelve-year run, is set to cease operations next month. Last night, executive director Shelby Hahn told the INDY that he will step down at the end of December. Hahn took the post in July 2015 after the departure of former director Devra Thomas. Following an unsuccessful search across the theatrical community for his replacement, the company’s board decided to cease operations when Hahn leaves. Rachel Klem and Michelle Byars created the theater in 2005 to provide an affordable rehearsal and...

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Theater Review: Once You Get Over It Not Being the Book, Fun Home Soars at DPAC

Posted By on Fri, Oct 28, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Fun Home★★★★ Through Sunday, Oct. 30 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham The great difficulty of taking in an adaptation of a work you already love is that, inevitably, the adaptation finds a way to let you down. The things you love aren’t always represented the way you wanted; the fine details to which you cling don’t always make the cut from the original to its offspring. I found myself facing this conundrum at Tuesday night’s presentation of Fun Home, the Broadway-smashing adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s stirring 2006 graphic novel memoir of the same name. The story unravels Bechdel’s coming to...

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Theater Review: PlayMakers' The Crucible Is a Brisk Study in Paranoia and Suspicion

Posted By on Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 4:29 PM

The Crucible★★★★ Through Nov. 6 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill From the outset, we all know what’s to come in The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s classic drama, now in a notable revival at PlayMakers Repertory Company. Stacked and dry as timber, the unspoken internecine grudges among the citizens of a small New England town will ignite when a new fear arises—that their neighbors have practiced witchcraft in secret against them. Given the homogeneity of the community’s Puritan beliefs, the conflagration will quickly spread, and with those beliefs so thoroughly codified in their laws, the courts will swiftly move against the...

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Theater Review: In Everscape, a Gripping Collision of Real and Online Worlds

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 5:00 PM

EverScape ★★★★ Through October 23 Sonorous Road Theater, Raleigh The reason I got out of database interface design? Those all-night coding sessions felt more and more like out-of-body experiences the longer they went on. Manipulating constructs in a weightless, three-dimensional environment was fun; it felt like stepping off the planet and the clock. But re-entry into an exhausted, sluggish body afterward became progressively problematic over time. Then I began wishing that I didn’t have to—re-enter, that is. That’s when I knew I had to quit. I’ve always seen more than a tinge of bait-and-switch in popular multiplayer games like the...

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In Fake It Till You Make It, Tommy Noonan and Compagnie Marie Lenfant Find Unstable Common Ground in the Masks of Politicians

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:55 AM

Tommy Noonan & Cie. Marie Lenfant: Fake It Till You Make It Saturday, Oct. 15, 8 p.m. & Sunday, Oct. 16, 5 p.m., $15 Living Arts Collective, Durham It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who is saying what in my conversation with Tommy Noonan and Murielle Elizéon of Saxapahaw’s Culture Mill and three members of France’s Compagnie Marie Lenfant. A reply might begin in English and then gradually transform into French as it travels around the table, only to be translated back for me by someone other than the original speaker. Ideas and roles dissolve into a fluid welter. That’s much...

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Friday, September 30, 2016

Theater Review: Fallout and Reckoning with the AIDS Epidemic in Mothers and Sons

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 8:33 AM

Mothers and Sons★★★★ ½ Through October 9 Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh You almost have to delve into the speculative side of evolutionary biology to understand Katherine Gerard, the aging matriarch in Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons. After her outer layer of skin was permanently stripped away—metaphorically, at least—by the death of her son, Andre, some twenty years ago, Katherine developed a protective trait that is on constant display throughout this gripping family drama at Raleigh Little Theatre. The concentrated venom of her views renders her immediate surroundings so toxic that no one can possibly get close enough to attack her....

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Theater Review: Lungs Is a Rewarding Drama for a Theatrically Underserved Millennial Generation

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Lungs★★★★ 1/2 Through Sept. 25 Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh You scarcely need a critic to note the conspicuous strengths of Sonorous Road Theatre’s rewarding production of Lungs. Two eyes, two ears, and a waking mind should do the trick. Artistic director Michelle Murray Wells and a previously underutilized Jonathan King are clearly among the strongest members of an emerging generation of young regional actors. Under Tony Lea’s discerning direction, in a stripped-down show with little in the way of technical filigree, both expertly pursue the comedy and pathos in the hairpin curves of Duncan Macmillan’s script. It’s obvious why Wells...

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Friday, September 9, 2016

Assessing the First Outing—and the Future—of the Women's Theatre Festival

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Our region had never before seen anything like the Women’s Theatre Festival. In an organized grassroots revolt against long-term local and national gender inequity in playwriting, directing, casting, and technical design, the fully crowd-sourced endeavor produced seventy-three events in four cities over five weeks. It mounted eight mainstage productions—and eight hands-on workshops where dozens of women received an introduction to disciplines including stage combat and set design. During one intensive, participants learned arc welding while constructing a set piece that would be used during the North Carolina Dance Festival. In front of live audiences and viewers on the Internet,...

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Theater Review: Something Rotten in the State of Kansas Delights in Maccountant

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Maccountant  ★★★★ Through Sept. 17 Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern @ Common Ground Theatre One’s first instinct is to simply laugh Maccountant off. Indeed, the gag-filled season opener for Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern provides ample reason for laughter as artistic director Jaybird O’Berski transplants his freewheeling adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth from eleventh-century Scotland to downtown Wichita in the mid-1960s. O’Berski manifests the absurdity of that premise in his mise-en-scène. The bloody conflicts aren’t played out amid the industrial arc welders and heavy machinery of that city’s airplane manufacturers, nor in the wringing sweat of its surrounding farmlands. Rather, they...

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Loss of Words: Remembering PlayMakers Repertory Company's Connie Mahan

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 3:25 PM

“There are words for everything in the mind but if you speak with your heart, your work will grow continuously.” As I sit at my desk at PlayMakers Repertory Company, thinking about the moment in the wake of our Associate Director of Communications Connie Mahan’s death, the proverb encompasses the impact she has had on PlayMakers and the greater North Carolina community. We received the news hours before our Season Kick-Off, usually a joyous event, to which subscribers and guests were invited to hear more about the upcoming season from Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch and members of the PRC staff....

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Theater Review: Creature Emerges Not Quite Fully Formed

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:50 PM

Creature ★★ Through Sept. 11 Tiny Engine Theatre Company @ North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre Those who study acting and directing build upon their skills. Once they learn how to stage a monologue, they move on to scene work, and then full-length plays. Unfortunately, this Raleigh production of Creature is clearly stuck somewhere between the latter two. Though individual sequences amuse and occasionally move us in this Tiny Engine Theatre Company coproduction with North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre, they never truly cohere into a unified or satisfying whole. We’re sympathetic with playwright Heidi Schreck’s attempts to reimagine the life...

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Theater Review: The Roaring Girl Is a Kinetic, Gender-Fluid Revisionist History of Seventeenth-Century Norms

Posted By on Thu, Aug 11, 2016 at 12:47 PM

The Roaring Girl ★★★ Through Aug. 20 Little Independent Theatre @ Murphey School Auditorium, Raleigh As they say, you gotta have a gimmick. Mary Frith was a London thief and pickpocket; her nickname, Moll Cutpurse, referred to her first primary source of income. She also dressed as a man in public, cursed like a sailor, and smoked like a house aflame—activities that were equally frowned upon for women in the year 1600. Surprisingly, however, her public disregard for gender roles and social norms earned her fame and a large degree of acceptance in King James’s England. In the years that...

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Theater Review: Domestic-Violence Drama The Traditionalists Leaves Us Wanting More—But Not in a Good Way

Posted By on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 2:46 PM

The Traditionalists★★ Through Aug. 14 Women’s Theatre Festival @ Umstead Park United Church of Christ I am an adult survivor of domestic violence. I still have the pistol my father used one night to threaten my mother’s life and my own. I keep that firearm, which is now unable to menace or injure anyone else, because people regularly doubt, discount, and second-guess accounts of domestic abuse. Evidence, I’ve learned, is important. The gun was in his hand. I can vouch for the authenticity of the damage depicted in Carol Torian’s one-act, The Traditionalists, part of the Women’s Theatre Festival’s first evening...

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Friday, August 5, 2016

In Raleigh, the First Women's Theatre Festival Hit the Ground Running With a Round-the-Clock Marathon of Staged Readings

Posted By on Fri, Aug 5, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Women’s Theatre Festival: Occupy the Stage Saturday, July 30–Sunday, July 31 Umstead Park United Church of Christ Staged readings are hardly the most glamorous side of live theater. Production values are thin—other than a clump of music stands to hold the actors’ scripts, there’s usually little or no set. Though the actors may have dressed up for the occasion, they’re generally not in costume or theatrical makeup. So why would a new theater festival open a month of programs and productions with twenty-one staged readings? And why did sixteen volunteers, 100 regional theater artists, and 250 audience members occupy a...

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Theater Review: Three Shakespeare Plays Are Pared Down to a Ninety-Minute Game of Dramatic Chess in Henry VI

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 3:02 PM

Henry VI: The War of the Roses★★★ Through Aug. 7 Stephenson Amphitheatre, Raleigh I wish I could just fast-forward through the rest of this election. So it’s understandable if Lucinda Danner Gainey, director of Bare Theatre and Raleigh Little Theatre’s coproduction of Shakespeare’s Henry VI, feels the same way about the War of the Roses. Historians generally say the open conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York lasted from 1455 to 1485, with a few skirmishes and mopping-up actions outside those dates. It’s more apt, though, to observe that the power vacuum that destabilized the British monarchy began...

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Theater Review: Honest Pint Theatre's Uncut Hamlet Is Worth Its Daunting Girth

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Hamlet★★★★ Through July 31 Leggett Theatre, William Peace University Something was rotten—or clearly amiss, at least—as I topped the second-floor staircase outside Leggett Theatre at Peace University last Saturday night. Aisles of chairs were set out for mourners as an exquisitely dressed party conversed, perhaps a bit too convivially, near a coffin draped with the flag of Denmark. Meanwhile, in an outfit that hardly suggested widow’s weeds, Durham singer Mysti Mayhem lustily belted out the rock anachronism “Me and Bobby McGee” from the other end of the lobby. Strange, I thought. But then, given the sinister circumstances of the death...

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Theater Review: Patrick Torres Finds a Fresh Take on an American Classic, The Glass Menagerie, at Raleigh Little Theatre

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 9:42 AM

The Glass Menagerie★★★★ Through June 26 Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh They’re conventions of theater criticism: no spoilers, and please, don’t give away the end. But my hand is forced when it comes to Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of The Glass Menagerie, since the conclusions artistic director Patrick Torres reaches are the most noteworthy element of the endeavor by far. Besides, given the canonical status of Tennessee Williams’s memory play in American literature classes—and its myriad productions in film and television and on the local stage—for most of us, the element of surprise left this particular text long ago. Still,...

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Theater Review: Caryl Churchill Scrambles Post-Colonial Roles in Ludicrous, Rewarding Farce Cloud 9

Posted By on Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 9:45 AM

Cloud 9 ★★★★ ½ Through June 25 Common Ground Theatre, Durham There are only two things missing in the opening act of Tiny Engine Theatre Company’s production of Cloud 9 at Common Ground Theatre. The first is a cheesy, sinister organ cue to underscore all the cheesy, sinister plot revelations. The second is what people used to call a lick of common sense. The latter’s absence fuels the ludicrous potboiler that begins this rewarding farce of colonialism and gender roles. The year is 1880, and the British Empire is still presumably on the rise—somewhere far from this sagging outpost in the...

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Theater Review: Two Leads Diverge in a Darkened Dive in Hughie

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 9:47 AM

Hughie ★★★★ (David Klionsky version) ★★ (Brook North version)  Through June 5 Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh A few occupations, like Formula One racing, rattlesnake farming—and acting, of all things—demand an acute, ongoing focus on the present. But in most other trades, it’s an eye for the longer term that survival favors. No one thinks, “You know, if I play my cards right, fifteen years from now I should be coming off a five-day bender in a third-rate dive somewhere in New York City.” It’s the kind of fate that happens when someone hasn’t looked ahead. But that’s where we find...

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Theater Review: In Musical Thought Experiment If/Then, There Is No Road Not Taken

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 11:39 AM

If/Then★★★ ½  Through May 29 DPAC, Durham Overthinkers of the Triangle: arise, and see If/Then at DPAC. Yes, I realize this unambiguous endorsement raises many more questions than it answers: Which night? Which seat? Invite a friend or go stag? Which restaurant—and which appetizer? Climb those decision trees. Just go. As for the rest of the region’s theatergoers? You might want to think about it a bit first. At the start, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s optimistic follow-up to 2008’s Next to Normal merely seems devoted to a different mental malady than the manic depression that was the focus...

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Announcing Open Auditions in Raleigh for the Inaugural Women's Theatre Festival

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 7:43 AM

In March, we reported on the Triangle's new Women’s Theatre Festival, which will debut this August. Conceptualized by Raleigh’s Ashley Popio and developed by a group of local women in theater, it will feature plays written and directed by women, with women composing the majority of the casts. Now, WTF has announced open auditions for anyone who wants to be a part of the festival. The auditions will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 28 at Raleigh’s Sonorous Road Theatre. Women, men, and children are all welcome to audition; sign up for an appointment at...

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Reviewing Local Independent Presenters' 2015-16 Season on Stage

Posted By on Thu, May 12, 2016 at 9:20 AM

Manbites Dog Theater Manbites Dog looked to the future in a season focused on technology and humanity, but strengths that have long been a part of the company’s history were evident in its twenty-ninth year. In Durham’s haven for visionary guest directors, curated independent artists, and controversial, thought-provoking scripts, director Joseph Megel took a sobering look forward in The Tramp’s New World, Rob Jansen’s poignant, post-apocalyptic, and undeniably funny solo show. We also glimpsed the future in Mr. Burns and The Nether, where Manbites founder Jeff Storer and associate artistic director Jules Odendahl-James probed the theater of social conscience...

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You stopped the arts coverage to cover the election..... You were probably better off just covering the arts, rather than …

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