Fayetteville residents are blessed with a vibrant and changing arts scene. Nowhere is that better seen than the performing arts, particularly in the area of dramatic arts. This year local residents have not one, not two, but three great theatrical seasons to look forward to, with great seasons planned by the Gilbert Theater, the Givens Performing Arts Center and the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
We all know the history behind the Gilbert. Started in the basement of founder Lyn Pryer’s home, the Gilbert has grown into a successful venue that offers the traditional (A Christmas Carol), alongside the not so traditional (The Rocky Horror Show.) With a shorter season than its counterparts, the Gilbert is a grass roots, community-focused and operated theater. Its performers, by-in-large, come from within the community, and many of its productions are original works. The same can be said of the upcoming season.
The Gilbert kicks-off its season with the quirky musical The Rocky Horror Show. The much beloved musical will open on Sept. 23 and run through Oct. 10. It’s a story that is wellknown by a certain generation. It’s a tale of love, lust and biological advancement all carried out in a crumbling castle. It’s a story that will make you laugh, and get on your feet and dance.
The second show of the season is the highly anticipated annual telling of the story of Scrooge. A Christmas Carol is one of the theater’s mainstays, and is looked forward to each year by the community. It is an adaptation by Kent Smith and Marcela Casals, and will run from Nov. 26 through Dec. 12.
An original production, Dateline Greensboro, written by John Merritt tells the story of the 1960 Greensboro lunch counter sit-in. It is slated for Feb. 3-20.
One of America’s favorite playwrites, Eugene O’Neill, wrote A Long Day’s Journey into Night about his family and their home on the Connecticut coast. It is scheduled to run March 31-April 17.
The final show of the season is Headsets, written by William Missour Down. The play is a comedy that tells the story of a falling-down theater on closing night of a very bad production of Hamlet.
The Gilbert is located at 116 Green St. in downtown Fayetteville For more information about the Gilbert and the upcoming season, check out the Web site at www.gilberttheater.com or call 678-7186.
Givens Performing Arts Center
Located on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, the Givens Performing Arts Center brings a wide variety of professional performances to the surrounding the community.
The arts center hosts not only the Broadway and More Series, but also a children’s series, a distinguished speakers series and a nostalgia series. Each event is designed to entertain and educate the audience. The shows,which are available at a per ticket price, which ranges from $20 to $40 per ticket, can also be purchased at a subscription rate for the entire season.
This year, the excitement is quickly building over the Broadway and More Series, which will bring not only great theatrical works, but also musical performances from around the world. The season begins in October with a performance of Oklahoma! and ends in April with a performance of Romeo and Juliet by the Russian National Ballet.
Oklahoma! will be on stage on Friday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, two Academy Awards, a Grammy and a special Tony Award, Oklahoma! is the classic American musical that launched the remarkable songwriting collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Set in turn of the century Oklahoma, against a backdrop of the high-spirited rivalry between local farmers and cowboys, Oklahoma! is the cherished love story of Curly, a handsome cowboy, and Laurey, a winsome farm girl. Featuring such favorite numbers as “People Will Say We’re In Love,” “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’,“ and “Surrey With A Fringe On Top,” this landmark musical is a true treasure that can be enjoyed over and over again!
Legally Blond is slated for Monday, Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. The hilarious MGM fi lm is Broadway’s new smash hit musical. Legally Blonde follows sorority star Elle Woods, an underestimated blonde who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more “serious,” Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books, and sets out to go where no Delta Nu has gone before: Harvard Law. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style.
The Color Purple is on stage on Thursday, Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. The play is a soul-stirring musical based on the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker and the moving film by Steven Spielberg. It is the unforgettable and inspiring story of a woman named Celie, who fi nds her unique voice in the world.
The National Philharmonic of Poland will perform on Friday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. The history of the Opole, Philharmonic of Poland can be traced back to the years immediately following World War II. One of Poland’s leading Orchestra’s, the Opole, Philharmonic of Poland was founded in 1947 and became the resident Orchestra of Opole. In 1952, a major Performing Arts Center was built in the city of Opole as permanent home to the Opole, Philharmonic of Poland. In June of 1969, the Orchestra was awarded by the Ministry of Culture of Poland the State Award for Arts Excellence in honor of the great Polish Composer Jósef Elsner.
Tango Buenos Aires will dance into your heart on Tuesday, March 1 at 8 p.m. Tango Buenos Aires has become one of Argentina’s great cultural exports, known throughout the Americas, Europe and the Far East as the most authentic and uncompromising representative of the Tango.
Tango Buenos Aires was created for the “Jazmines” festival at the famous Buenos Aires cabaret “Michelangelo” by renowned composer and tango director Osvaldo Requena. The company met with tremendous success and was immediately added to the season of the General San Martin Municipal Theatre.
The Russian National Ballet’s performance of Romeo & Juliet will end the season on Thursday, April 14 at 8 p.m.The Russian National Ballet Theatre was founded in Moscow during the transitional period of Perestroika in the late 1980s, when many of the great dancers and choreographers of the Soviet Union’s ballet institutions were exercising their new-found creative freedom by starting new, vibrant companies dedicated not only to the timeless tradition of classical Russian Ballet but to invigorate this tradition as the Russians began to accept new developments in the dance from around the world. Today, the Russian National Ballet Theatre is its own institution, with over 50 dancers of singular instruction and vast experience, many of whom have been with the company since its inception.
To order tickets for any of the shows or to buy a season subscription, contact the box offi ce at 910-521-6361 or 1-800-367-0778 or visit the Web site at www.uncp.edu/gpac.
The Cape Fear Regional Theatre
Bo Thorp, the leading lady of local theatre, has spent a lot of time thinking about the upcoming season at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. This season is a prelude to the celebration of the theatre’s 50th anniversary, and Thorp and company are looking to pull out all of the stops.
“Trying to choose the plays for the season is hard. It’s awful because there are so many to choose from,” explained Thorp. “What we look for fi rst is what the audience will like the most, and then what they want to see, and what will enrich their lives.”
Thorp said that the local audience isn’t really keyed into titles, so the theatre staff has to work hard to sell the audience on plays they might not recognize. “We know what they would like to see, but sometimes we have to convince them they want to see it,” she laughingly said.
The first show of the season, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, falls into that category. Thorp said the show is great fun, and becomes even more so for audience members who have a chance to participate. Each evening, four members of the audience will join the cast in the production. The show is scheduled for Sept. 23 to Oct. 10
That musical production will be followed by A View from the Bridge, Nov. 4-21. The Arthur Miller drama is fi ercely compelling and tells a story of love, belonging and betrayal.
Over Christmas, theatre’s much beloved production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will run from Dec. 9-19, and delight the community. Thorp said this production has done so much over the years to build confi dence in children and to introduce them to, and bring them into, the theatre family.
The over-the-top musical Hairspray will usher in 2011 as the cast shakes and shimmies its way onto the stage Jan. 21-Feb. 13. Thorp said the show is well known and will bring a wide audience to the theatre.
Rumors, by Neil Simon, will be on stage April 1-17. Rumors tells the story of four couples who gather to celebrate a 10th wedding anniversary of their best friend only to discover a series of events that will leave you laughing until you cry.
I love you, you’re perfect, now change will be on stage in June. It is a celebration of the mating game, and takes on the truths and myths behind that contemporary conundrum know as “the relationship.”
There will be three special performances this year. In March, the theatre family will tackle Lunch at the Piccadilly again, which will be fi lmed by UNC-TV for broadcast.
The Classic Theatre Series will also present Our Town in March, and the season will wind up with the 27th Annual River Show, which will pay tribute to Hank Williams: Lost Highway running May 13-29.
“We hope our audience is going to love this season, our 49th season,” said Thorp. “This is our run-up to the 50th season, and it’s the start of our celebration.” For more information, visit the theatre’s Web site at www.cfrt.org.