Bravo! Curtains going up

The curtains are opening on a new arts season in Cabarrus County.

The Cabarrus Arts Council recently announced upcoming performances at the Davis Theatre, a 227-seat theater in Cabarrus County's historic courthouse on Union Street.

The third season of the arts council's signature series, "On Stage at the Davis," will kick off Sept. 25 with "It Takes Two: An Evening with Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell," starring two Broadway showstoppers. Kennedy, who has performed in Broadway's "Les Miserables" and "Spamalot," and Campbell, whose credits include several television roles, will perform a repertoire of Broadway hits, swing, country and rock-n-roll. Tickets are $42.

Next up at the Davis Theatre is a Nov. 12 performance by Pianafiddle, an improvisational all-musical-genres piano and fiddle duo.

"One of the things we do is look at bringing in a wide variety of performances," said Noelle Rhodes Scott, president and CEO of the arts council.

The arts council is a member of the N.C. Presenters Consortium, an organization that promotes collaboration among arts groups to bring acts on tours through theaters across the state.

By working with the consortium, the arts council is able to bring in acts that they might not otherwise be able to afford, said Scott. Many of the performers are on the brink of making it big, and some, like Kennedy and Campbell, are already stars, she said.

And in times when wallets are tight, Scott said many people take advantage of local performances rather than footing the bill for expensive theater tickets in Charlotte.

"Even when the economy is down, people need to see things that lift them up," said Scott.

That's why the arts council is hoping to bring quality performances to the county, she said.

"We want people to leave and say, 'Wow. That was incredible,'" she said.

In the spring, the theater will host Galumpha, a group of dancers who perform acrobatic choreography, as well as singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer, who has toured with Alison Krauss and Union Station.

The series will wrap up with a May 6 performance of "Blood Done Sign My Name," a play based on Tim Tyson's memoir of a 1970 murder in Oxford, a small N.C. town. The play recounts the murder of 23-year-old Henry Marrow through the eyes of several witnesses, the acquittal of the murderers by an all-white jury and the reaction of Oxford's black community.

Local talent is involved too. Local actors danced and sang their way across the stage last week during a dress rehearsal at the Old Courthouse Theatre, a volunteer-run community theater on Spring Street in Concord. The cast was preparing for the first show of the theater's season: "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels."

The comedic musical is based on the 1988 film by the same title starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin as Lawrence Jamieson and Freddy Benson, two conmen living on the French Riviera who agree that the first person to swindle $50,000 from the young Christine Colgate will get to stay in town, while the loser must leave. Performances will be held 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 22.

Next month, actors will take the Old Courthouse Theatre stage again to perform "Harvey," a Pulitzer Prize-winning play about Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary friend, Harvey, a rabbit more than 6 feet tall, and Dowd's sister, who tries to have him committed. In a comedy of errors, Dowd's sister is mistakenly committed instead until the truth comes out and the hunt is on for Dowd and his invisible friend.

The theater will open again in December for the production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," the tale of a couple struggling to organize a church Christmas pageant, and in February for "Divorce Southern Style," a comedy about a middle-aged divorcee running low on cash who decides to try to get back together with her ex-husband.

The Old Courthouse Theatre's season will conclude in April with "Honk!," a play based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Ugly Duckling."

Tickets for the Old Courthouse Theatre's productions are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students and $10 for ages 12 and younger.

The community theater will also hold free performances of three different plays as part of its "Living Room Reading" series on Sept. 12, Nov. 14 and Jan. 23.

In addition to the "On Stage at the Davis" performances, the arts council will also host musical performances in its two other series, "Jeff Whittington's Brand New Opry," a bluegrass variety show, and "Footlights," a showcase of regional performers.