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Friday, May 12, 2017

Common Ground Theatre Is Gone, But Some of Its Resources and Its Role Live on in Walltown Children's Theatre

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 1:53 PM

Cynthia Penn-Halal is beaming as she stands amid the clutter of construction at Walltown Children’s Theatre. The company’s executive director points out a neighborhood worker painting the wooden side rails on new risers for the audience, while theatrical carpenter Jeff Alguire puts the finishing touches on the technical booth he’s made out of what was once the baptistry in a former church building on Berkeley Street. “I’ve wanted to do this since 2005,” Penn-Halal says of a monthlong project that has transformed the main room of her facility into a commercial-grade black box theater, capable of hosting the region’s...

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Theater Review: In Marjorie Prime, Human Replicas Help the Living, But at What Cost?

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 4:27 PM

Marjorie Prime ★★★ ½ Through May 13 Manbites Dog Theater, Durham The theory of the “uncanny valley” has taken on increasing importance in recent years. It refers to the phenomenon that human replicas prompt feelings of distaste and distrust when they  look, talk, act or move like human beings, but not quite. The idea has become a subject of significant research and the subject of films like Ex Machina, television shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, and plays including Francesca Talenti’s 2013 drama The Uncanny Valley at UNC and Marjorie Prime, now at Manbites Dog Theater. But the concept is actually...

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Friday, April 28, 2017

Justice Theater Project and Young Students Band Together Against Arts Funding Cuts

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 10:13 AM

Justice Theater Project's Forum Theatre Workshop Saturday, April 22 Umstead Park United Church of Christ, Raleigh A plastic, gold-painted crown isn’t part of the standard-issue uniform for public school principals. But it somehow fits the character who sits at a desk on the dais at the Umstead Park United Church of Christ. After reading a sticky note handed to her by a lackey, she picks up a phone and imperiously announces on the school’s public address system, “There will be no more art and chorus from now on.” Then her assistants walk across the stage and confiscate the drawings, art...

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Theater Review: In On Golden Pond, Stage Veterans Contemplate What's Gone Before and What's to Come

Posted By on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 at 11:46 AM

On Golden Pond ★★★½ Through April 23 Theatre in the Park, Raleigh The thought, though it’s more than a touch morbid, applies as much to summer idylls as it does to theatrical productions, regardless of their ambition or achievement: only a finite number is allotted to any of us. What comes after is, at best, unclear. Playwright Ernest Thompson’s family drama became a part of motion picture history when the Oscar-winning film version, a box-office behemoth with Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda, became the second-highest grossing movie of 1981. (The top? Raiders of the Lost Ark). A television adaptation...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Theater Review: Durham Newcomer Addled Muse Fire Theater Has Cirque Chops. Now It's Time to Build on the Theater Side.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 20, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Addled Muse Fire Theater: Purgatoire★★★ Saturday, April 15 Durham Central Park, Durham Theater begets theater, dance begets dance. After a group of artists honing their craft coalesce around a director, choreographer, or company, they branch out to start practices of their own. The same is true of cirque and flow arts; a brief online search now finds more than half a dozen regional groups and practitioners devoted to the style of eccentric aerial and land-based acrobatics and choreography originally championed locally by Raleigh’s Cirque de Vol. Last Saturday, on a perfect night under the stars in Durham’s Central Park, the...

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Theater Review: PlayMakers' My Fair Lady Fleshes Out Edwardian Culture and Cuts Against the Romanticism of the Songs

Posted By on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 1:47 PM

My Fair Lady ★★★★ Through April 29 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill Education changes everything. That’s one of the reasons George Bernard Shaw’s twist on the Pygmalion tale, adapted as the musical My Fair Lady at PlayMakers Repertory Company, could be something of a tender subject in a region where the transformative powers of learning have long been championed. It is widely held here that, through scholarship, people can transcend the limitations of culture, economics, class, and gender. And that statement is true—at least, insofar as it goes. But for many, transcending the limits of their native culture involves the painful...

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Theater Review: The Harrowing Stories of Global Female Activists Dramatized in Seven: A Documentary Play

Posted By on Wed, Apr 5, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Seven: A Documentary Play ★★★ ½ Through April 6 Sonorous Road Theater, Raleigh Works like Seven: A Documentary Play sometimes experience difficulty attracting audiences, not despite their worthy subject matter but because of it. The 2007 project, commissioned by the Washington-based international organization Vital Voices Global Partnership, tasked a septet of playwrights, including MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant-winner Anna Deavere Smith, to interview and dramatize the harrowing stories of seven notable women who have labored in recent decades to improve the living conditions of women in Africa, Central America, Europe, and Southeast, Central, and Western Asia. That description, in itself,...

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Theater Review: Echoes of Tennessee Williams in Bartlett Theater's Production of Lynn Nottage's Crumbs From the Table of Joy

Posted By on Sat, Mar 11, 2017 at 11:58 AM

Crumbs From the Table of Joy★★★ ½ Through March 12 Bartlett Theater at PSI Theatre, Durham An enigmatic narrator is telling a theater audience a poetic but fraught coming-of-age story, looking back at a distant adolescence in a dingy city tenement. In this memory play, the world has outflanked a family of rural Southern transplants and a parent hopelessly trapped in outdated folkways and superstitions. Though excursions to the movies provide them with temporary sensations of liberation, the walls have been closing in, and the elder’s constrictive rules and dead-end plans will never accommodate the narrator's need to learn, create, and...

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Theater Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Lights Up the Mathematics of the Mind

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 10:55 AM

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ★★★★ Through Feb. 26 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham Artists know that embracing restrictions can spark creativity. A visual artist who limits herself to variations on a certain hue or a composer who drastically narrows his choices in instrumentation accepts those constraints in order to explore the possibilities within them. British author Mark Haddon accepted some profound constraints when he wrote his 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, before Simon Stephens's stage adaptation went to London's West End, Broadway, and the touring National Theatre production currently running at DPAC....

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Theater Review: A Colony of Broken People Explore Imagination, Sex, Anesthesia, Detox, and Reinvention in The Night Alive

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 4:06 PM

The Night Alive★★★★ Through Feb. 25 North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, Raleigh It can be a good thing when a set triggers flashbacks before a show begins. Prior to the first light cue in Honest Pint Theatre’s The Night Alive, designer Thomas Mauney’s squalid little flat took me back to the Hotel New Hampshire. No, not the edifice in the famous John Irving novel, but the crash pad of preference to which my friends gave the same name in my undergrad days. The random decor, rundown furniture, and slovenly housekeeping was similar, down to the black garbage bags holding...

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Theater Review: Raleigh Little Theatre's One Man, Two Guvnors Isn't Overacted. That's an Issue for a Farce.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 11:44 AM

One Man, Two Guvnors ★★★ Through Feb. 26 Raleigh Little Theatre, Raleigh If you doubt that One Man, Two Guvnors, the theatrical time trip on offer at Raleigh Little Theatre, is up to the minute, take a moment to consider the number of jobs you have to work to make a living wage. If n > 1, then you, like me, are in the same boat as Francis, the play's central character. Richard Bean’s 2011 farce is an update of The Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni’s eighteenth-century commedia dell’arte classic. Thus Francis (an energetic Jesse R. Gephart) is roughly...

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Sonorous Road Productions Is Moving to Hillsborough Street in June

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 1:20 PM

Prospects for the region’s independent theater scene look brighter today, after Sonorous Road Productions announced that it would relocate to a new facility on Hillsborough Street in June. The news follows a span of uncertainty about Sonorous Road's fate after the building it currently occupies on Oberlin Road was sold. After months of searching and negotiations, the theater and filmmaking concern signed a five-year lease Thursday morning on a space in the Royal Bakery Building at 3801 Hillsborough Street, across from Meredith College. “It was the biggest relief,” artistic director Michelle Murray Wells said. “We’ve been under so much pressure...

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Theater Review: Yes, the Touring Version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at DPAC Has Been Updated, and Yes, Pat McCrory Gets Called Out

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 4:41 PM

Hedwig and the Angry Inch★★★ ½ Through Sunday, Feb. 5 Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham The year before the Berlin Wall came down, the title character of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, now in Durham on a national tour following a 2014 Broadway production, was in his early twenties when he was permanently disfigured by a disastrous East German gender-confirmation surgery, becoming what playwright John Cameron Mitchell calls “a gender of one." The math is unforgiving; the title character would be pushing fifty or beyond now. Perhaps it's a small point in a world where septuagenarians like Mick Jagger,...

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Theater Review: Don't Dismiss Intimate Apparel at PlayMakers as a Mere Period Piece

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:54 PM

Intimate Apparel ★★★★ Through Feb. 12 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill It’s tempting to dismiss the faithful production by PlayMakers Rep of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel as a period piece. Based on the life of the playwright’s great-grandmother, the 2003 drama chronicles the life and the loneliness of Esther (Rasool Jahan) a black woman who carved out a life for herself as an independent seamstress in New York City, eighteen years after fleeing the South as a teenager during the northern migration in 1887. Her gifts at designing and handcrafting the titled commodity—colorful lingerie for the boudoirs of both the social upper-crust,...

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Theater Review: An In-Process Adaptation of De Profundis Is Still Floundering in Oscar Wilde's Seas

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 4:49 PM

De Profundis ★ ½ PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill Through Sunday, Jan. 15 Last year, PlayMakers Repertory Company's second-stage series devoted an entire season to two-to-five-year-old repertory solo works by out-of-town playwrights, in a drastically smaller-scale, alt-theater version of the itinerant shows that visit DPAC and DECPA. So it was entirely appropriate to raise the stakes this season. In August, PRC² presented the world premiere of Mashuq Mushtaq Deen’s autobiographical solo, Draw the Circle. In late December, director Brian Mertes, designer Jim Findlay, and actor Nicole Villamil began a three-week residency to create a new stage adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis,...

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Theater Review: Take High Tea with Little Women in the Women's Theatre Festival's Holiday Production

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2016 at 2:40 PM

Little Women★★★ Through Dec. 18 Women’s Theatre Festival @ Sonorous Road Theatre, Raleigh At its heart, the Women’s Theatre Festival is actually a conveyance: a theatrical vehicle intent on moving the region (and, by extension, our culture) forward by bringing a broader array of women’s voices and stories to the fore, and by leading women to more equitable states of theatrical access, training, and competency than they’ve had in the past. In this new production of Little Women, the group passes another milestone toward those laudable goals: a holiday show, in the vein of seasonal productions by more established...

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Friday, December 9, 2016

Theater Review: A Leading Local Theater Artist Mines Her Life's Schisms, Contradictions, and Eerie Beauty in Ethelred the Unready

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 2:56 PM

Ethelred the Unready★★★ ½ Through Dec. 10 Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, various venues There are hundreds of professional actors in the area, but prior to Dana Marks’s Ethelred the Unready, only three have produced an autobiographical one-person show in the last decade. Why? Solo performance is daunting; autobiographical solo work is even harder. In the former, you merely spend an hour onstage, alone, before a live audience. In the latter, you also open some of the most private parts of your life—irrevocably—to public scrutiny. It’s more than enough reason, all told, for anyone to think twice. But monologists...

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Theater Review: Is The May Queen an Indictment of the Male Gaze or an Apologia for a Stalker?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 8, 2016 at 9:19 AM

The May Queen★★★ Through Dec. 11 PlayMakers Repertory Company, Chapel Hill Molly Smith Metzler surely intended her play The May Queen as more than an apologia for a stalker, but it’s hard to leave the current production at PlayMakers Repertory Company without the nagging sense that her critique of an annual, real-world rite of spring in a small New York State town, and of the social pecking order found in high schools everywhere, has somehow lost its way. Metzler’s hometown of Kingston has named a May Queen every spring since 1916. The tradition continues despite the ritual’s possibly sinister origins...

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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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The Carolina, the Varsity, now the Chelsea. These movie houses were among the reasons we moved here 25 years ago. …

by JO in CHNC on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

The Chelsea Theatre has to be saved! Chapel Hill and the Triangle would be greatly diminished without it. Other theatres, …

by Jonathan H on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

...as did I, Ms. Margolis -- in a very small handful of moments over a two and a half hour …

by Byron Woods, INDY Theater and Dance Critic on Theater Review: The South Is Hard to Hear in the Opera Version of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Arts)

I certainly heard the accents.

by Elizabeth A Margolis on Theater Review: The South Is Hard to Hear in the Opera Version of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain (Arts)

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The Carolina, the Varsity, now the Chelsea. These movie houses were among the reasons we moved here 25 years ago. …

by JO in CHNC on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

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