Memorial Auditorium, Progress Energy Center—One of the shows that took Broadway to a blockbuster level (by which I mean a damn helicopter on the stage), Miss Saigon remains one of the most popular musicals of all time. The Vietnam-based retelling of Madama Butterfly updates the story to set it against the backdrop of the evacuation of Saigon as a young barmaid falls for an American soldier on leave. As is usually the case with these stories, the stars are crossed for these two lovers, and many melodramatic complications ensue.
N.C. Theatre's new production features an original 1959 pink Cadillac driven on the damn stage, along with the aforementioned helicopter. The director is Richard Stafford, who previously helmed Dreamgirls for N.C. Theatre in 2008, and the choreography is by Broadway veteran Marc Oka. If your heart can stand all this spectacle, visit www.nctheatre.com for more information. The show opens with a student preview tonight at 7 and officially premieres tomorrow at 7:30 p.m., continuing through March 29. —Zack Smith
Nelson Music Room, Duke Campus—Born in eastern Turkey in the province of Tunceli, Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç left the country after high school to live with his family, who had fled years earlier. While abroad, Tunç protested Turkey's state of war and ethnically charged turmoil through song. The Turkish government has arrested Tunç multiple times for his activism, and he now stands on trial once again. He makes a rare American appearance with three dates in the Triangle: He performs his deeply sung, string-abetted folk tonight at Duke at 8 p.m. ($5-$20), followed by a discussion titled "Music and Activism" at Duke's John Hope Franklin Center Monday, March 23, at noon and another titled "Music on Trial" at N.C. State's Stewart Theatre Wednesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. Both talks are free. "At a time when anti-democratic practices were rampant and there was much suffering in Turkey, I stood up in the middle of Istanbul to cry freedom," Tunç told the Turkish Daily News in 2001. "I cannot forget how I talked about democracy and freedom at a time when such words were not mentioned in Turkey." —Grayson Currin
Correction (March 23, 2009): The province of Tunceli is in eastern, not western, Turkey.
ComedyWorx 20th-Anniversary Weekend
ComedyWorx—ComedyWorx has been putting on improvisation shows for 20 years, and has had no shortage of willing acolytes in the art of improv. And true to the "open source" philosophy of its founder, Richard Gardner, many of its classes are free of charge. To date, ComedyWorx has trained nearly 2,000 individuals in the art of making stuff up.
For many of its long-standing performers, ComedyWorx isn't just a venue, but a community. Chris Spence, who's been performing there for 15 years, describes the cast of regulars as "a family, in all the good and sometimes bad ways that families can be! We're tremendously close friends. ... Part of being able to improvise together is being able to trust each other, and we take that on and off the field." She performs with other veteran players in short-form shows on Friday and Saturday.
For their 20th-anniversary shows, ComedyWorx has invited back two of its most successful alumni, Jim Woods and Jorin Garguilo, now based in L.A. and Chicago, respectively. Woods spent six years at the Worx, and now performs frequently at the Mecca and Medina of improv, iO and the Upright Citizens Brigade in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. He has appeared on Reno 911 and How I Met Your Mother, and has recently booked a part on The Office (watch and play "spot the improviser").
Garguilo was with ComedyWorx for 10 years before moving to Chicago. Last Wednesday he hosted the Del Awards in improvisation, where he won for "Excellence in Hosting" in 2007 (probably didn't hurt him getting the hosting gig this year). Garguilo and Woods will both perform the original ComedyWorx short-form format, and will present new shows of their own during Late Night at the Worx.
Traditional ComedyWorx shows are at 8:30 p.m. Friday and 4:45 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Long-form shows are at 10:30 and 11:40 p.m. both nights. Tickets are $5-$10. See www.comedyworx.com for more information. —Marc Maximov