Four Matthews Playhouse grads score good gigs

Matthews Playhouse has reason to smile this summer: Four former performers have moved forward in the arts.

Sam Gooley started there in elementary school, went to Charlotte Catholic High School and earned a BFA in acting at East Carolina University. He's been in off-Broadway shows and acts with the theater company The Attic, but he's now a playwright.

His "This One Time in Last Chance" will run between Aug. 13 and 25 at the New York International Fringe Festival, billed as the nation's largest interdisciplinary festival (1,200 performances by 200-plus companies over 16 days). The comedy is about a Colorado town where guileless drug dealers waiting to score find a dead man in their motel room. Details: www.fringenyc.org.

Meanwhile, Jacob Pinion has been cast as the audacious, divorcee-chasing Pepper in the Broadway run of "Mamma Mia!" The actor-dancer, who went to New York University, scored in Charlotte in the title role of "Sweeney Todd" at Northwest School of the Arts.

Two more Playhouse grads have been busy. Adam Bayless, who worked on "Talladega Nights" when it was shot here, has moved to Los Angeles to become assistant production coordinator for "The Lincoln Lawyer," "The Green Hornet" and "The Roommate." And Tiffany Verch, who was in the first Playhouse production in 1995 (and managed the costume shop at 14), now works as a professional costumer, most recently on the Showtime series "Homeland" in Charlotte.

Statewide artists guide

The N.C. Arts Council will produce a new online directory to connect actors, dancers, musicians, writers and visual artists living and working in the state with audiences. They must apply for the 2012-2014 Artist Directory by Aug. 15.

This succeeds the Touring Artist Directory, which has been produced by the Arts Council every two to three years since 1992. This directory expands the types of activities artists can promote to include performances, residencies, workshops, commissions, consultancies, guest curatorial work or artistic direction, mentoring and panel service.

N.C. artists who are 18 or older and have been year-round residents of the state for at least a year immediately prior to the application deadline may apply. Students are not eligible. Details: www.ncarts.org.

Seconds for 'First Kids'

Remember "First Kids," the musical about the sons and daughters of presidents that had a test run at Hickory Community Theatre last year?

Robert Clater and Lesia Kaye, who assembled that production, report that producers Paul Kreppel and Murphy Cross are raising money for a run at Broadway. A New York reading in June featured Ken Page of "Cats," Ilene Graff of "Grease" and Elizabeth Gillies of TV's "Victorious."

Award for 'Ghost Trek'

"Ghost Trek," the half-hour pilot for a projected comedy-horror series about paranormal investigators, won the Corman Award for best comedy at the recent Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville, Ky. Charlotte filmmakers Michael Plumides, Robert Filion and Anne Saunders turned out to receive the prize.

'Aphasia' feeling good

The short narrative "Aphasia," starring Carl McIntyre as a recovering stroke victim based on himself, is an official selection of the 2011 Feel Good Film Festival. That drama, which was shot and produced in Charlotte, will screen Aug. 13 in Hollywood at Raleigh Studios. Details: www.fgff.org.

Harris nabs internship

Charlotte's Doug Harris has earned one of 22 spots in the Actors Theatre of Louisville's 40th-anniversary Apprentice/Intern Company. (More than 2000 people applied.) He'll get practical training and experience at one of the nation's most respected regional theaters.