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Charlotte Arts Guide 2019-20
Here’s all of our stories on the new arts season. We’ll introduce you to the diverse group of people making vital contributions to the arts. You’ll find them in museums, on stage, in studios and even outdoors. And you’ll get our calendar listings for theater, dance, music, museums, literary events and visual arts.
Performances take place in Haid Theatre at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont. The season blends classic and contemporary plays, and casts may be made up of regional performers and/or students. belmontabbeycollege.edu.
No plays have been announced at press time.
The Actor’s Gym
This unconventional company does comedies, dramas and thrillers from any time over the last couple of centuries, performing in Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square. Follow it at its Facebook page.
Oct. 11-20: “Countess Dracula,” a new play by Tony Wright, incorporates themes from the ballet “Giselle,” as an Eastern European woman moves to London in the 1920s about the time a number of ballet students fall ill and die.
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte
Professional, Off-Broadway-style company favors contemporary playwrights. The troupe has found a permanent home at Queens University’s Hadley Theater, 2132 Radcliffe Ave. Dates are slightly subject to change. 704-342-2251; atcharlotte.org.
Through Sept. 7: “Silence: The Musical.” Jon and Al Kaplan and Hunter Bell wrote this musical satire of the Oscar-winning “The Silence of the Lambs.”
Oct. 3-26: “The Wolves.” A suburban soccer team wrestles with big questions and learns to be young warriors in this drama by Sarah DeLappe.
Dec. 3-22: “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical.” Armadillo Acres residents have Texas rockin’ around the Christmas cactus again.
Jan. 16-Feb. 8: “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.” Lanie Robertson wrote this almost-one-woman musical about Billie Holiday, who sings and reminisces during a 1959 Philadelphia club date, four months before her death.
Feb. 27-March 21: “Cost of Living.” Martyna Majok’s play follows two mismatched couples, a former trucker and his recently paralyzed ex-wife, and an arrogant young man with cerebral palsy and his new caregiver.
April 23-May 16: “One Man, Two Guv’nors.” British playwright Richard Bean adapted Carlo Goldoni’s frantic 18th-century “Servant of Two Masters” into a comedy about a guy who lands simultaneous jobs working for a gangster and an upper-class twit in 1963.
June 4-27: “Head Over Heels.” ATC describes this piece by Jeff Whitty and James Magruder as an unconventional fairy-tale love story set to the iconic hits of the Go-Go’s.”
Blumenthal Performing Arts
The region’s leading presenter produces shows but usually imports them, mainly for its Broadway Lights series (local premieres marked with “BL” in the list below, and running autumn to autumn) and its “Encore” series (marked “E” below.) Belk Theater, Booth Playhouse, Stage Door Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.; McGlohon Theatre and Duke Energy Theatre at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St.; Knight Theater, 430 S. Tryon; Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. 704-372-1000; carolinatix.org; blumenthalarts.org.
Sept. 10-29: “Aladdin.” (BL) The Alan Menken-Howard Ashman-Tim Rice-Chad Beguelin musical about a boy and his genie preserves songs from the Oscar-winning animated film but adds another half-dozen.
Oct. 8-13: “Mike Birbiglia’s “The New One.” (BL) The actor-comedian’s one-man show recounts the adjustments he and his wife made after the birth of their first child.
Oct. 29-Nov. 3: “Les Misérables.” (E) The musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel about 19th-century France comes around again.
Nov. 12-17: “Once on This Island.” (BL) A peasant girl guided by her island gods seeks reunion with the man who captured her heart in this musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. It won a 2018 Tony for best musical revival.
Nov. 19-Dec. 1: “The Play That Goes Wrong.” (BL) A second-rate production of “The Murder at Haversham Manor” runs farcically off the rails in multiple ways in a show created by London-based Mischief Theatre.
Dec. 6-8: “Jersey Boys.” (E) The musical narrative about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons comes around again.
Jan. 7-12: “Come From Away.” (BL) Irene Sankoff and David Hein wrote this musical about the small Newfoundland town that took in 7,000 passengers when planes were rerouted there after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Jan. 21-26: “My Fair Lady.” (BL) Director Bartlett Sher’s Lincoln Center version of the Lerner and Loewe masterpiece gives us a new slant on voice coach Henry Higgins and prize pupil Eliza Doolittle.
Jan. 28-Feb. 2: “The New Colossus.” (E) Twelve actors from around the world tell stories of their immigrant families coming to America in a narrative directed and co-written by Tim Robbins.
March 23-26: “The Color Purple.” (E) The stripped-down 2016 musical version of Alice Walker’s novel about a black Southern family comes around again.
April 7-12: “Riverdance.” (E) The 25th-anniversary tour promises new Irish music and dance numbers.
April 24-26: “Blue Man Group.” (E) The bizarre, azure-faced mime-actors come around again with new routines.
April 28-May 3: “Anastasia.” (BL) Another Lynn Ahrens-Stephen Flaherty musical, this one a retelling of the 1997 animated film about an amnesiac orphan who may be the lost daughter of Russia’s last tsar.
June 16-21: “The Spongebob Musical.” (E) This show, taken from the Nickelodeon series about the unassuming hero who saves Bikini Bottom in a time of peril, earned 12 Tony nominations and won for best scenic design of a musical.
June 23-July 5: “What the Constitution Means to Me.” (BL) Heidi Schreck’s Pulitzer Prize finalist and Tony-nominated play deals with her fascination with the U.S. Constitution (starting at age 15), as she imagines how it will shape the next generation of American women.
July 28-Aug. 2: “Jesus Christ Superstar.” (BL) The national tour of this musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber takes its tone from the 1970 concept album’s hard-rocking roots.
Brand New Sheriff Productions
This company does a wide range of work, most of it recent, concerning all facets of African-American life. It performs at Duke Energy Theater in Spirit Square. brandnewsheriff.com.
Oct. 12-21: “Boys to Baghdad.” Playwright Rory Sheriff based this drama/romance on his own experiences as a young man sent to Desert Storm and then adjusting afterward back in the U.S.
Sept. 27-Oct. 8: “Shakespeare in Love.” Lee Hall adapted the Oscar-winning script by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard for the 1998 film, in which the young playwright meets his ideal woman — who insists on acting in one of his plays.
Oct. 25-Nov. 3: “Little Shop of Horrors.” The first great collaboration between Alan Menken and Howard Ashman revamped the 1950s B-movie about a carnivorous plant from outer space and its nebbishy caretaker.
Feb. 14-23: “Chess.” Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA joined lyricist Tim Rice and book writer Richard Nelson for this Cold War piece about grandmasters from the U.S. and U.S.S.R., fighting over a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other.
April 17-25: “Sense and Sensibility.” Jon Jory based his comedy-drama on Jane Austen’s novel about the Dashwood sisters’ loves and heartbreak at the beginning of the 19th century.
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
Oct. 4-Nov. 3: “Peter Pan.” Five composers and lyricists worked on this delightful 1954 adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s novel about a boy who refuses to grow old and the Neverland he inhabits. Children’s Theatre has figured out how to fly actors effectively, so expect aerial action.
Nov. 1-24: “The Invisible Boy.” Writer Christopher Parks and composer Josh Totora adapted this entry in CTC’s Kindness Project from Trudy Ludwig’s book about a boy who remains virtually unseen at his new school until a curious classmate draws him out.
Nov. 29-Dec. 29: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical.” This cash cow now runs for a month each year, as the ill-natured Herdman kids learn a lesson about tolerance at Christmas — and teach judgmental townspeople one.
Jan. 4-18: “The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.” Robert Kauzlaric, Paul Gilvary and William Rush made a musical of the witty tale by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, in which the huff-and-puff wolf tells his version at a trial where the audience votes on his guilt.
Jan. 31-Feb. 16: “Akeelah and the Bee.” An academically gifted 11-year-old in a rough neighborhood has lost both her dad and her interest in school. She finds motivation to succeed by competing in a national spelling bee.
Feb. 21-March 15: “GRIMMZ Fairy Tales.” Writers Christopher Parks, Rahsheem Shabazz, and Ron Lee McGill put a hip-hop spin on familiar stories in “Snow White and the Seven Shawties,” “Down with Rapunzel” and “Hanzel & Gretel: Lost in the Hood.”
Feb. 29-March 1: “Havana Hop.” Writer-performer Paige Hernandez brings in a show about a Cuban girl’s passion for culture and family history.
April 3-May 3: “Dragons Love Tacos.” Ernie Nolan adapts the Adam Rubin-Daniel Salmieri picture book about a beast whose fondness for Mexican food gets him into trouble when he eats jalapeño-spiked salsa.
April 17-April 26: “Afflicted: Daughters of Salem.” Laurie Brooks’ drama, suggested for middle schoolers and older, re-tells the story behind the Salem witch trials, where girls in 17th-century America undid a Massachusetts town.
May 27-June 7: “Balloonacy.” Barry Kornhauser wrote this story for preschoolers in which a balloon makes its way into the home of a solitary old curmudgeon and lightens his life.
Davidson Community Players
This community theater has a home at 307 Armour St., Davidson, and does bigger shows on the Davidson College campus. The Connie Company, an offshoot, does shows for young audiences. The full season for 2020 will be announced in late autumn. 704-892-7953; davidsoncommunityplayers.org.
Sept. 26-Oct. 13: “Wait Until Dark.” A con man tries to win over a blind woman whose husband has embroiled her family in drug deals in Frederick Scott’s thriller.
Nov. 1-10: “Aladdin Jr.” (Connie Company) An abbreviated version of the full-scale musical that will play Belk Theater in September (see above).
Dec. 5-22: “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Pageant.” Playwright Tom Mula looks at the other half of the firm of Scrooge and Marley, who has to save his old business partner if he’s to escape his own eternal torment.
Oct. 11-20: “The Adventures of Madeline.” When Lord Covington decides to sell her elementary school, Madeline intervenes, despite the disapproval of her schoolteacher.
Dec. 13-22: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” An adaptation of the script for the 1946 film, in which a would-be suicide finds out what life would have been like for others if he’d never been born.
Jan. 24-Feb. 9: “Mamma Mia!” This musical full of ABBA tunes centers on the wedding of a girl whose mother had affairs with three men and doesn’t know which was the dad.
Feb. 21-March 1: “Pinocchio.” An adaptation of the Disney film about the elderly puppetmaker whose wish for a little boy comes true when a fairy transforms one of his marionettes.
June 12-28: “Guys and Dolls.” The Frank Loesser-Abe Burrows musical takes its characters from Damon Runyon’s stories about gamblers, long-suffering molls and Salvation Army members.
This troupe adapts classic and modern plays into interactive performances that let audience members enter the action if they like. Shows take place all over the old house at 901 Central Ave., Charlotte, that now contains Frock Shop, and audiences get treats to eat and drink. The company announces one show at a time and has not revealed its schedule. paperhousetheatre.com.
Material has ranged from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams’ lesser-known one-act plays to Judith Malina’s translation of Brecht’s “Antigone” to Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog.” It’s based in Rock Hill, but you’ll often find it at Duke Energy Theatre in Spirit Square. The company announces one show at a time and has not revealed its schedule. shakescar.org.
Through Sept. 22: “Oliver!” Lionel Bart’s musical version of “Oliver Twist” won a Tony for its score, which contains “As Long as He Needs Me,” “Consider Yourself” and “Food, Glorious Food!”
Oct. 25-Nov. 10: “And Then There Were None.” Agatha Christie’s incomparable novel inspired this somewhat different play about visitors to an inaccessible island dying one by one.
Dec. 6-15: “A Christmas Carol.” The holiday tribute to Dickens, now in an adaptation by Julius Arthur Leonard, returns for its 13th visit.
Jan. 31-Feb. 16: “The Odd Couple.” Neil Simon’s comedy about a finicky obsessive who moves in with a sloppy pal may be his most perfectly constructed show.
March 20-April 5: “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” A troubled, childless couple runs afoul of the Mississippi patriarch who demands his son produce an heir in Tennessee Williams’ drama.
May 22-June 7: “Dreamgirls.” A female trio comes apart when its manager replaces the portly, powerful lead vocalist with a svelte singer. Tom Eyen won his lone Tony for the touching book.
Three Bone Theatre
This company, which does contemporary work, performs in Duke Energy Theater to be “a catalyst for hope, strength and humor.” threebonetheatre.com.
Nov. 1-9: “Protective Custody PRISONER: 34042.” Writer Charles LaBorde and director Dennis Delamar adapt the autobiography of fellow Charlottean Susan Cernyak-Spatz, who recounts her youth under Nazism and survival in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps.
Jan. 23-Feb. 1: “Ugly Lies the Bone.” Lindsey Ferrentino wrote this drama about a burned, emotionally scarred veteran of the Afghan War who attempts to escape her pain through virtual reality video game therapy.
May 28-June 6: “Dada Woof Papa Hot.” Two male couples with kids meet at a parents’ group in New York City in Peter Parnell’s comedy-drama; they bond, even as their marriages start to fray.
July 30-Aug. 8: “This is Modern Art.” Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin based their play on the real-life graffiti bombing of the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago, which has unexpected consequences in this drama.
More arts coverage
You can find all of our arts season preview stories and calendars in one place: charlotteobserver.com/topics/charlotte-arts-guide.
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