The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and The Illustrated World of Charles Dickens
Paul Green Theatre and Ackland Art Museum, UNC Campus—In the mid-1800s, Charles Dickens' serial stories, such as Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist, kept readers in eager anticipation for the next installment. One such serial, the comedy Nicholas Nickleby, was later adapted for the stage by David Edgar and is considered one of the most extraordinary of the many adaptations of Dickens' work. It's also a daunting one, with a run time of nearly six hours and a cast of approximately 150 parts, which requires the actors to play multiple roles. PlayMakers Repertory Company, UNC's professional theater company in residence, tackles this prolix work by breaking it up into two three-hour installments with a company of 25 actors.
In conjunction with PlayMakers, the Ackland Art Museum presents The Illustrated World of Charles Dickens, a selection of original drawings, prints and illustrations of 19th-century England. Works from Dickens' major artistic collaborators—George Cruikshank, "Phiz" and John Leech—are installed in the Ackland's new second-floor Study Gallery, demonstrating the relationship between literature, art and theater. It's bound to be the best of times.
The Illustrated World of Charles Dickens is on display through Dec. 6. The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby is in rotating repertory today through Dec. 20, with evening performances at 7:30 and matinee performances at 2 p.m. Visit www.playmakersrep.org. —Belem Destefani
Colony Theater—"On the streets, the real trick is staying alive." Such is the tagline for Cinema Overdrive's latest pulp screening, the 1982 cop flick Vice Squad, a nonstop barrage of pimps, 'hos, sex, drugs, violence and pretty much everything else that's bad for you. Directed by Gary A. Sherman and based on the recollections of a former LA beat cop, it's the tale of a hellish night spent tracking down a hooker (Season Hubley, who played a similar role in Paul Schrader's Hardcore) before she's killed as the result of a blown wiretapping operation. Wings Hauser portrays a psycho pimp named Ramrod, and you also get to hear him sing the opening credits song, "Neon Slime." It's all shot by Stanley Kubrick cinematographer John Alcott, and there's even parts for former MTV VJ Nina Blackwood and Fred "Rerun" Berry! What more do you need? Tickets are $5 for the screening, which starts at 8 p.m. Visit www.therialto.com. Next week, the Colony will do a 180 and screen the family classic Pee-wee's Big Adventure; we could make a joke connecting Pee-wee Herman and Vice Squad, but the poor man's suffered enough. —Zack Smith
Quail Ridge Books and Music—Elizabeth Spencer's literary work got quite a renaissance when her 1960 novella The Light in the Piazza was adapted into a hit Broadway musical in 2005. Spencer, who has lived in Chapel Hill since 1986, has been published for more than 60 years, receiving, among other awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, five O. Henry awards for short fiction and the PEN/ Malamud Award. Spencer appears at 7:30 p.m. to promote her collection The Southern Woman, which includes The Light in the Piazza. It's a chance to see one of the great writers of Southern fiction in person and to celebrate a long and memorable career. Visit www.quailridgebooks.com or call 828-1588. —Zack Smith
Lincoln Theatre—Chris Knight, the pride of Slaughters, Ky., is a storyteller who sings about the hard-working class and folks coming to terms with their lots in life. To transform his stories into songs, Knight employs exemplary roots rock that sometimes turns swampy, sometimes even jangly. He lets others, like Montgomery Gentry, take 'em to the commercial country charts. But, as presented in their earliest, stripped-down forms on The Trailer Tapes and the recent Trailer II, these songs hit hardest when they're hunting-dog lean. Tickets are $14-$17 for the 8 p.m. show. See www.lincolntheatre.com. —Rick Cornell