Planning a getaway to the High Country this holiday week? Ginger and Agatha would love for you to visit.
You can see Ginger courtesy of the Blowing Rock Stage Company in “Backwards in High Heels: The Musical Story of Ginger Rogers.” For Agatha, drop by the Flat Rock Playhouse and catch “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie.
Both professional theaters are known for providing some of the highest-quality locally produced theater in the region. (Blowing Rock is about 21/2 hours from Charlotte. Flat Rock is about two hours away.)
“Backwards in High Heels,” created by Lynnette Barkley and Christopher McGovern, was a hit for Florida Stage last year when it received its world premiere. Barkley also directs this production.
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Barkley told Playbill.com, “We want to give the essence of [Ginger Rogers'] life – we're not there to recreate old Fred and Ginger routines.” The work is a fictionalized account of her early years up through her 1940 Best Actress Oscar win for “Kitty Foyle.”
The show's title comes from a famous observation about Fred Astaire: “Sure he was great, but don't forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards … and in high heels!”
A six-person orchestra plays music from the song catalogs of Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin, among others.
McGovern and Barkley say they were attracted to stories about strong women, and Rogers' life had the elements they were looking for.
Mystery on an island
The stage version of Christie's novel “And Then There Were None” tells the story of 10 people brought to an island by a mysterious host. They meet at dinner and have no idea why they've been invited. They soon realize that they have been tricked into coming, but have no way to get back to the mainland. One by one, each character disappears.
Veteran Playhouse performer Michael Edwards directs the production, which features many actors who have a long-standing history with the company. They play guests: former nanny, doctor, detective, bitter old woman, retired general, judge, soldier and socialite.
Edwards said in an e-mail that the playhouse has been presenting Christie plays from the time it was founded in 1952 and has produced all of her major works.
Charlotteans may know actor Brian Robinson, who plays detective William Blore. He has worked with Actor's Theatre of Charlotte, Children's Theatre and CPCC Summer Theatre.
In 1961 the N.C. Legislature designated Flat Rock Playhouse as the State Theatre. What began as a few weeks of summer shows in 1940 is now an eight-month season.