Asheville – Happier days are slowly arriving to those who enjoy live theater with real actors and actresses performing on stage. The good news is that in-person live productions have been scheduled for North Carolina Stage Company here in Asheville. One can see “Live from WVL Radio Theatre: The Word Exchange” from October 27 to November 14, 2021 and “Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol,” a play with music from December 7 through December 19, 2021.
NC Stage Company is a 127-seat, off-broadway style professional equity theatre in downtown Asheville, very near a city parking lot. They have been serving audiences for nearly two decades with a wide variety of productions, including some serious subjects as well as the humorous plays about Jeeves and Bertie Wooster, based on P.J. Wodehouse’s books. These often star two great talents: Scott Treadway and Charlie Flynn-McIver.
Currently in its 20th season, NC Stage was founded by Charlie and Angie Flynn-McIver in 2001. After establishing vibrant acting and directing careers in New York City, the couple returned to their home state of North Carolina to establish NC Stage Company, and have been producing professional theatre ever since.
During the lockdown for COVID19 all those involved in the performing arts— actors, producers, stage managers, cast members, and audiences—have had to suffer the consequences of no “live” theater. No one was able to enjoy the stimulating topics, musicals or comedy that is brought to the stage by theatre productions. Using the technology of Zoom or YouTube, a few like Charlie Flynn-McIver, his wife Angie, and those in the Immediate Theatre Project carried on and managed to schedule some intriguing productions, which were streamed online, such as the holiday production of “It’s a Wonderful Life 2020” and “The Book Club Play” by Karen Zacarias in March.
“Live From WVL Radio Theatre: The Word Exchange”
A world premiere is taking place with this upcoming play, directed by Angie Flynn McIver and Willie Repoley: The Word Exchange. The Immediate Theatre Project is bringing a new play where old-timey radio meets the 21st century head-on with dire consequences. This is an adaptation by Willie Repoley of a book by Alena Graedon by the same name. It has never been performed before, so a world premiere. “It’s a lot of fun,” says Repoley. “The story feels very 40s, very noir-ish, but the conceit of setting it in the future adds a whole new dimension, because, of course, their future is very much like our present. We get to reimagine the 21st Century though a mid-20th Century lens.” The story takes place in the very near future, when electronic devices have become even “smarter” and an electronic virus that corrupts language breaks through to human users.
This summer, in collaboration with NC Stage, the Immediate Theatre Project invested heavily in new equipment to enable live streaming of plays, enabling a hybrid experience. Ticket holders have the option of watching this play, either live at NC Stage, where Covid regulations will be enforced (including masks, proof of vaccination, and limited seating capacity), or at home via live streaming. Tickets for this play are $25 and can be found at www.ncstage.org. It runs from Oct. 27, 2021 to Nov. 14, 2021; Wednesday-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. & Sundays at 2 p.m.
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol, ” a Musical
This December audiences will be able to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol presented as a musical. NC Stage Theatre is bringing an adaptation of the novella to stage with performer, Jeffries Thaiss, and musician Eric Scott Anthony—only the two. It is fast-paced and imaginative production, combining Dickens’ original text with both traditional and unexpected Christmas music. Thaiss takes on all the characters from the famous story, portraying Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, the three spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, along with Ebenezer Scrooge. The audience will be transported to the streets of London to revisit the timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey to redemption. The play will run from Dec. 7 though Dec. 19th, Tuesdays-Saturdays 7:30 pm and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm.
Mike Wiley’s “Breach of Peace”
Mike Wiley is a North Carolina-based actor and playwright whose compelling works of documentary theatre yield rich and powerful journeys to milestones and turning points of the African American experience. In early October he brought the play “Breach of Peace” to the intimate NC Stage Theatre in downtown Asheville. One could enjoy his superb acting and presentation in a seat quite near the stage or online with a streamed YouTube presentation. Following the play, he allowed time for questions and answers from the audience.
In this play, Wiley managed to portray the determination of the Freedom Riders in 1961 who risked their lives to desegregate the South. This solo-play was a living documentary to those remarkable young men and women of various races, religions and backgrounds who rose to face the dangers of fighting for just and equal treatment for all, as intended in our American Constitution. He had to change his persona on stage many times to portray the various characters. It was powerfully presented, easily comprehensible, using only basic, minimal stage props. “Breach of Peace” was based on true facts from that period in American history that need to be remembered. Wiley’s stimulating documentary presentations richly reward the viewers for a better understanding of the African-American history.
Both in-person and virtual tickets are available. Masks and proof of vaccination or proof of negative Covid test are required for in-person shows. There is reduced seating to allow for social distancing, and there are only approximately 40 seats available for each performance. Groups of any number who consider themselves a pod and want to be comfortably seated next to each other may sit together. The ticketing software automatically block two seats next to that party. Rows 2 and 4 in all sections have been removed. NC Stage has installed an effective ventilation system.