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Sitcom reruns, live – theme songs, too

Collaborative Arts restages classic TV: ‘Three's Company,' ‘The Facts of Life' and ‘Married With Children.'

By Julie Reed
Special to the Observer

More Information

  • Preview

    Classic TV shows from the '70s, '80s and '90s performed onstage.

    When: 8 p.m. Sept. 11-13 and 18-20.

    2:30 p.m. Sept. 21.

    Where: Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square.

    Tickets: $15.

    Details: www.collaborativeartstheatre.com.



Sure, you could sit at home watching the new “90210.” But why not treat yourself to some classic TV staged live for your viewing pleasure by Collaborative Arts Theatre?

That's right: live. You can see popular characters like Jack, Janet, Tootie, Blair, Al and Peg perform your favorite scenes filtered through the perspective of Collaborative Arts, according to company co-founder Elise Wilkinson.

The shows given the in-your-face treatment are “Three's Company,” “The Facts of Life” and “Married With Children.” They are directed by James Yost, Meghan Lowther and Patrick Tansor.

“We looked for iconic sitcoms from the 1970s, '80s and '90s,” Wilkinson said in an e-mail. “Each director identifies with his or her sitcom for different reasons, but these three shows really stood out in terms of representing their decade and giving us some freedom to add our own creative stamp.”

Wilkinson's first professional theater job out of college was directing a live episode of “Gilligan's Island” for a late-night theater series. She said it was a blast for both the actors and the audience. Wilkinson has been thinking about doing something similar for about 15 years, and she and Collaborative Arts co-founder Joe Copley have had the idea in the back of their minds for a couple of years.

After seeing a few sketch comedy shows by local troupe Robot Johnson, troupe member Megan Lowther and Wilkinson came up with the idea for the two companies to collaborate.

Johnson will stage almost a dozen classic commercials during the sitcoms and set changes.

“They're a great mix of nostalgia and humor,” Wilkinson said. “You'll see everything from 1970s classics like Tootsie Roll Pops (‘How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop?') to the famous 1990s Life Alert (‘Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!').”

Over the past three years, Collaborative Arts has gained a reputation and following for site-specific and environmental shows like “Bad Dates” and “The Sublet Experiment” (both staged in apartments). The company was intrigued by the idea of taking that same concept and applying it in a traditional theater space, Wilkinson said.

As for the current production, “there's no deep theme, no hidden meaning and no great literature in this show – it's simply about having fun,” Wilkinson said. “We're aiming to fill the show with laughter, nostalgia and sing-alongs (yes, you get to sing the theme songs with the cast).”

So, come on knock on their door at the Duke Energy Theatre. They've been waiting for you.

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