Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings "Little Women" back to life

11Experience the timeless magic of Little Women as Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings this beloved story to life in an immersive theatrical production June 6 through 9 and 13 through 16 at The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County.
Witness the trials and triumphs of the March sisters — Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy — as they navigate the complexities of adolescence, love and family against the backdrop of Civil War-era New England. Based on Thomas Hischak's play adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, a grown-up Josephine (Jo) March recounts growing up with three sisters going through triumphs, tragedies, and loss.
Little Women has long been a beloved classic, captivating readers with its timeless tale of the March sisters and their journey through life. At the heart of this cherished story lies the enduring power of sisterhood, resilience, and the pursuit of dreams.
Reagan Carsten is the director and shares how she wants the audience to experience her rendition of this classic play.
“Our intimate staging, creative casting, and live music preshow will transport you to a world of sisterhood, sacrifice and self-discovery. Prepare to have your heart warmed and your spirit uplifted by this captivating production that celebrates the bonds of family and the strength of the human experience,” says Carsten.
Carsten is an alum of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts BFA in Drama, embarking on her first solo directing project. She started with Sweet Tea Shakespeare in 2014, so coming back for her has meant everything — especially with the story Little Women being one of her favorite plays.
A seasoned theatre professional, Carsten shares a deep appreciation for the collaborative nature of her craft. She finds immense joy in working alongside her talented, like-minded peers, all of whom bring a contagious passion and energy to the stage. Whether during evening rehearsals or moments of laughter and text analysis, Carsten feels grateful to be part of a community generously invested in the arts.
Carsten adds, “Working with Sweet Tea Shakespeare, I’ve always found that the participants are generous with their time and energy and are passionate theatre-makers. Even though some had other responsibilities earlier in their day, they showed up. I feel so grateful to share that time with them in a space laughing and uplifting one another.”
The classic play Little Women, written by Sarah Y. Mason and Victor Heerman, opened in November of 1933, and there have been many adaptations throughout the decades.
Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s mission is to gather diverse communities to delight in the magic of story, song, and stagecraft. You can join as a monthly or annual member to receive advance ticket rates, complimentary tickets, and other sweet deals and gifts. Go to:
Do not miss your chance to be a part of this unforgettable theatrical journey.
Secure your tickets now and get ready to be inspired by the enduring power of this timeless tale. For tickets, go to:

Cape Fear Studios presents "The Mug" exhibit

16a“Mornings start with hot tea or coffee. It is the best way to feel fresh and give a kick-start to a busy day. You might be a coffee-lover or tea fanatic; your cup gets the attention. Have you felt that drinking from your own mugs adds to the flavor? Yes, more than sixty percent of people are emotionally attached to their mugs. Sipping the hot beverage from your mug is what you choose to crave,” according to
Many of us have a favorite mug. One of the unwritten rules in offices is to not use or touch another person’s mug. Bring your own mug or use a plastic cup. Cape Fear Studios is exploring this idea with "The Mug" exhibit. The Cape Fear Studios Mug Exhibit opened April 26 and runs to May 21. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free
“The first mugs were made of bone during the Neolithic Stone Age. Japan and China crafted pottery mugs in 10,000 BCE. Just ask the Greeks, they made clay mugs back in 4000-5000 BCE,” said Gareth Parkins.
What is the origin of the name mug? Mug is associated with human face and head. Ceramic mugs are a common choice. Mugs can be produced in bronze, gold, lead, and silver. Clay was not workable for the Greeks.
“Clay mugs proved too thick to fit into the mouth,” said Gareth Parkins.
“Mugs are physical links to memory. According to research, mug shape and color play a role in our perception of coffee taste and smell. A 2014 survey presents the finding that sipping coffee out of a white mug boosted its intensity and taste as compared to glass mug,” said Alexandria Brooks.
Why do we love our mugs? Nostalgia, comfort, warmth, stressbusting and relaxation are several reasons.
Jill Dieffenbach, Curator of Cape Fear Studios, shares “We are hoping to show how an ordinary vessel, The Mug, can be elevated by each potter’s creativity and skill into a piece of art enriching the life of its owner. The way it fits the users’ hand as they drink their morning tea or coffee, and the joy that comes from the way the decoration has been applied to the surface, turns an ordinary vessel into an artistic experience. We feel this work will illustrate the joy and importance of ‘The Mug.’”
The artists exhibiting their work include Leah Leitson, Mark Hewett, Tammy Josephson, Ray Im and Gay Smith Bakersfield.
Mugs can be an obsession, a reflection of our personal identity, awareness, wisdom, and living in the present moment. Mugs can be a contributing vessel in our process to make sense of our lives.
“Art is not what you see but what you make others see,” according to the Pinterest website. When we purchase a mug from an artist, we have a shared moment of creation, our memory, and the soul of the artist. Immerse yourself in the art encounter of “The Mug” exhibit at Cape Fear Studios. Contact information for “The Mug” exhibit is the Cape Fear Studios website, or by phone at 910-433-2986.

(Photo: One of the mugs in the exhibit at Cape Fear Studios.)

Cape Fear Regional Theatre: Change in the air

10Things are changing at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. A remodel and upgrade to the building is in the works, but this leaves Artistic Director, Mary Kate Burke, with a need for a remote location for the next two years while the theatre undergoes its renovation.
However, this isn’t the first time the folks at CFRT have had to pivot. During Covid, the crew found makeshift event spaces to continue producing their art. They performed at a few outdoor spaces like the old Haymount Auto spot, now the Truck Stop.
“Covid gave us the opportunity to learn how to create theatre in non-traditional spaces,” Burke said.
This change will be a little more traditional. Burke and the others at Cape Fear Regional will be moving their production space to The Bordeaux Hotel at 1707 Owen Drive — the space is now known as The Good Homes Bordeaux — transforming the top floor into an “engaging, dynamic” theatre.
The hotel itself is being converted to one-bedroom apartments. Burke said she is excited for the change since there is a housing shortage in the area. Even more exciting, is the sort of kismet around the partnership. Burke notes that the motto of the company that owns The Good Home Bordeaux is “Good Homes for Great People” and Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s slogan has been “Great Stories Told Here.” For her, they seem to fit together.
CFRT will have a five-season show for 2024-2025 including The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, which has been going on for 33 years this year. The season’s opening show is still to be determined but it will be followed by Puffs in October. This production is about a “very well-known wizard series,” Burke says with a smile.
“It’s a 90 minute tour de force,” she says. “If you liked The Play That Goes Wrong, you’ll love Puffs. It’ll be a silly good time.”
Following that will be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. This year the show will have four different casts and up to 40 youths involved in the production. After that, the theatre will put on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This production will be directed by Marc De La Concha. De La Concha is the director of education and directed Matilda. Burke says this production will have a lot of opportunities for youth performers.
“Its going to be a family favorite.”
The follow up to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be Steel Magnolias. Burke describes it as a beloved Southern masterpiece. This production will happen in the springtime for CFRT.
“We are really excited to bring this story to life,” she said. “It’s both hilarious and touching.”
With all these productions and managing the change of locations, Burke notes that it’s ironic that Steel Magnolias has a large theme about change since the theatre and staff will undergo so much change during the next two years.
“Change can be something you have to be thoughtful about when you manage.”
The last production in the theatre's 2024-2025 season will be Once on This Island. The show is a different story from The Little Mermaid, with “incredible” music, according to Burke. She and the other members of the staff at the theatre are excited about the upcoming changes and any challenges along the way.
Their new space will have less seating than their home space in Haymount so Burke recommends getting a season pass as those pass holders will have priority in seating. The theatre will still have all the education programs but where they will be held will be forthcoming.
“Even though it’s going to be in a different location, we are still going to be serving the community in the same ways we always have,” she said.

(Photo: The Good Homes Bordeaux, formerly the Holiday Inn Bordeaux, will be the new home of Cape Fear Regional Theatre for the next two seasons.  Photo by Linda McAllister)

Gilbert Theater announces next season’s lineup

11The beloved Gilbert Theater has announced its lineup for next season and it has a few heavy hitters sure to pack the house and sell out fast.
The Gilbert Theater is known for putting on lesser-known productions and productions that explore humanity at its best, worst and everything in between. But next season will look a little different, while still keeping the weird and wonderful that is Gilbert Theater.
Artist Director Larry Carlisle is looking forward to the upcoming season and put great thought into what the season, with some financial backing, would look like.
“This new season we were lucky enough to be awarded a rather large sum of money from our friend Rep. Diane Wheatley,” he said. “One of the reasons I love doing stuff here is because we do weird stuff, we do shows that while recognizable, we also do our fair share of fairly mainstream stuff. When we did Sound of Music, you don’t get any more mainstream than that. Most of the time, those more recognizable shows end up being our most successful, obviously. We did Rocky Horror Show for our 30th season and it blew the doors off the place, almost. So we kind of decided while we have the ability and while the iron is hot, so to speak, we would kind of go BIG. We decided to go with a season that really has a lot of name recognition… shows we have always wanted to do here but couldn’t for any of number of reasons… We are opening the season with Heather’s the Musical.”
Theatergoers can look forward to a great season full of familiar favorites.

Heathers the Musical
September 13- September 29
Based on the 1989 cult classic, Heather’s, starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, this show is sure to be a nostalgic comedic journey down the “cool kids” rabbit hole. Written by Laurence O'Keefe and Kevin Murphy, Heather’s the Musical follows main characters Veronica Sawyer and Jason “J.D.” Dean through the parallels of ‘fitting in’ with the high school elite.

A Christmas Story
November 22- December 8
Keeping its 80’s theme, the holiday season will see A Christmas Story on the stage. Another adaptation of a 1980s cult classic, A Christmas Story tells the tale of a boy (Ralphie), and his family and his epic Christmas gift, not to mention his dad's leggy lamp.

January 31- February 16
Adapted from Stephan King’s 1983 novel of the same name, Misery looks to start 2025 off strong for the theater. A cautionary tale of fact vs fiction, reality vs fantasy, this twisted tale of fandom gone seriously wrong is surely going to hit the audience in the…gut.

The Prince
March 21- April 6
A season at the Gilbert wouldn’t be complete without uplifting and performing the work of an LGBTQ writer. This season will see trans writer Abigail Thorn’s The Prince highlighted on the stage. The story of actors in a play who newly discover they are indeed actors in a play. The new realization for the actors brings up bigger questions of identity. Do they want to be the characters they are playing?

Little Shop of Horrors
May 16-June 1
Ending the season with a jump to the 60s, The Gilbert looks to undertake its most sophisticated and technically complicated show yet. This show calls for the use of puppets, one of which will be almost the size of the stage. Audience members can look forward to singing and laughing along with this classic hit by Howard Ashman.

(Photo: Graphic courtesy of the Gilbert Theater Facebook Page)

Up and Coming Weekly's Summer movie preview

14Summer blockbuster season is upon us as well as some great arthouse films too. This year promises one of the best seasons yet. To get us ready, I’ve chosen 15 of the most exciting releases of the summer for you to mark your calendars for this year, from planet-takeover apes and brave storm chasers to animated teen feelings and more superheroes. Although there are many sequels this year, I still find it exciting that these stories are taking us to even more places. Let’s check them out...
The Fall Guy - May 3rd
The Summer begins with The Fall Guy, an action comedy film based on the 1980s TV series about stunt performers. The film stars Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt. Gosling plays Colt Seavers, a past-his-prime stunt man, who finds himself working on a film set with Tom Ryder, a famous actor for whom he had doubled long ago. When Tom goes missing and the film, which is being directed by Jody Moreno (Blunt), Colt's ex-girlfriend in her directing debut, is in danger of being shut down, Colt volunteers to find Tom and save Jody's debut film. The trailer has laughs and thrills that are sure to set the bar for summer action films. And who doesn’t like Gosling and Blunt?
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes - May 10
It’s been 300 years since the events of War for the Planet of the Apes. In Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, apes have flourished, while the remaining humans have regressed into a primitive, nonverbal state. A powerful ape king has corrupted Caesar’s teachings, enslaving other ape clans and hunting down humans, and a chimp hunter named Noa (Owen Teague) teams up with a human girl named Mae (Freya Allan) to try and save both of their kinds from destroying each other. Even though I appreciate the visual effects, I still miss the ape suits and make-up of the original films.
Back to Black - May 17th
Back to Black is the highly anticipated biographical drama film based on the life of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, played by Marisa Abela. Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. Following the death of Winehouse in 2011, several filmmakers attempted to create biopic projects but none of them progressed. In 2018, Winehouse's estate announced they had signed a deal for a film about her life and career. This is that film.
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga - May 24
This is George Miller’s next installment of his Mad Max universe. Miller’s Fury Road prequel Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is finally hitting theaters after what was probably another long, exhausting shoot in the middle of the desert. The film is set before Fury Road right when the world is tipping into chaos. It stars Anya Taylor-Joy as young Furiosa, stolen from her green homeland and indoctrinated into a biker horde led by a warlord fighting for dominance over the land. While the two would-be kings fight it out, Furiosa plots her return to home.
The Watchers - June 14
The Watchers is very exciting because it is written and directed by newcomer, M. Night Shyamalan’s daughter, Ishana Night Shyamalan. The film stars Dakota Fanning. In the film, 28-year-old artist Mina gets stranded in an expansive, untouched forest in western Ireland. Upon finding shelter, she unknowingly becomes trapped alongside three strangers who are watched and stalked by mysterious creatures each night. This is sure to be a test to see if horror and suspense runs in the Shyamalan family.
Bad Boys: Ride or Die - June 14
I am mostly excited for this next installment. The world, including myself, can’t help but love Will Smith especially when it's with Martin Lawrence. The third film, Bad Boys for Life, turned out to be a big hit in its opening weekend. The Miami Police is the epicenter of corruption, the late police chief Captain Howard is blamed for secretly being involved with a number of drug cartels. When Smith and Lawrence try to find out what’s really going on, they’re cut loose in a sudden setup, forcing them to become fugitives.
Inside Out 2 - June 14
Let me start by saying how I have loved every single Pixar film. It’s time to go back into the mind of young Riley Andersen, in Inside Out 2. In this sequel, Riley is a teenager, in a formative transitional period of life that comes with all kinds of new stuff, including an army of new emotions. The control center run by Amy Poehler’s Joy and her friends is suddenly inundated with feelings they’ve never felt or even heard of before — Anxiety, Envy, Ennui, Embarrassment — that each threaten to take over Riley’s teenage mind if they don’t all learn how to work together.
The Bikeriders - June 21
Jeff Nichols’ new drama combines generational family sagas and biker gangs. The Bikeriders unfolds over the course of a decade, told from the eyes of each of the members and their growing families while a violent organized crime group threatens the safety of everyone involved. Michael Shannon, a regular in Nichols’ films, stars with Austin Butler and Tom Hardy.
Kinds of Kindness - June 21
Kinds of Kindness is an upcoming film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things). The films stars Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe, Margaret Qualley, Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie, and Hunter Schafer. Kinds of Kindness is a fable with segments following a man without choice who tries to take control of his life; a policeman who is alarmed that his wife who was missing at sea has returned and seems to be a different person; and a woman who is determined to find a specific someone destined to become a prodigious spiritual leader. Lanthimos not only directed Poor Things, but also The Lobster, The Killing of the Sacred Deer and The Favourite also starring Stone.
A Quiet Place: Day One - June 28
The film’s tagline states: Hear How It All Began. All we know about A Quiet Place: Day One is that this one is set on the day the aliens with supersonic hearing invaded our planet and ended the world. Lupita Nyong’o and Joseph Quinn star as refugees from the extraterrestrial threat, along with Alex Wolff and Djimon Hounsou, reprising his role from A Quiet Place Part 2 — which might mean we’ll finally get the backstory of that mysterious island sanctuary.
MaxXxine - July 5
Mia Goth is back as Maxine Minx, sole survivor of the adult film shoot gone wrong at a farmhouse in the middle of the Texas wilderness. Now her journey takes her to 1985 Los Angeles to pursue her dreams. Ti West directs this third installment following X and Pearl.
Twisters - July 19
It was just a matter of time until Hollywood thought, what is worse than one Twister? Multiple Twisters! Twisters stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Glen Powell as today’s generation of storm chasers, piling themselves and their meteorological equipment into trucks and careening off in search of the big one. I was blown away by the original’s visual effects so technology 30 years later is sure to show even more exciting thrills.
Deadpool & Wolverine - July 19
Deadpool & Wolverine not only brings together two of the most iconic Marvel superhero characters but ushers them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time. It’s also the only Marvel movie coming out this year. Ryan Reynolds teams Deadpool up with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to go on a mission; they’ll change the past and the future of the MCU forever. This is comic book movie history and who doesn’t like a good, big-budget MCU movie?
Alien: Romulus - August 16
Set between the events of Alien and its sequel Aliens, Fede Álvarez’s Alien: Romulus, takes place onboard a derelict space station scavenged by a crew of desperate young colonists, which is also naturally home to some new and terrifying form of xenomorph. Even though Ridley Scott is not returning to directing, he serves as producer of what is sure to be an exciting scary ride.
Late Minute Summer Watch
The Crow - August 23rd
Bill Skarsgard stars in this retelling of The Crow. A superhero film directed by Rupert Sanders from a screenplay by Zach Baylin and Will Schneider, based on the 1989 limited comic book series of the same name by James O'Barr. It will be the fifth installment in The Crow film series, serving as its reboot and the remake of the 1994 film of the same name.
You can see all of these films in your local theaters including The Cameo Art House Theatre, Omni Cinema and AMCs.

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