Laugh Away Gloomy Days with NC Stage Company - TribPapers
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Laugh Away Gloomy Days with NC Stage Company

Asheville – NC Stage Company in downtown Asheville is opening their season with two popular comedies, Jeeves Intervenes and The Lifespan of a Fact. With so much upheaval in 2021 and even early in 2022, these two plays are a welcome diversion and bring smiles to many faces.  Laughter will hopefully help to shake away this winter’s snow and chill. 

Production Details 

The live productions with talented professional Equity actors is shown at 15 Stage Lane off of Walnut Street, across the street from Zambra restaurant and next to the Rankin Avenue parking garage. NC Stage is currently offering a reduced number of socially distanced, in-person tickets to each performance. In-person tickets for both shows are on sale now at ncstage.org. However, the play is streamed virtually through a streaming service. 

NC Stage put on five beloved Jeeves plays in earlier years. Jeeves Intervenes is the first in a series of plays by Margaret Raether, who adapted a number of P.G. Wodehouse’s stories into delightful, hilarious dramas. This production opens Wednesday, February 2, and runs through March 13.  It features high society playboy Bertie Wooster, portrayed by Scott Treadway, and everyone’s favorite gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves, played by Peter Thomasson. Will Jeeves be able to save Bertie and his friend Eustace from Bertie’s formidable Aunt Agatha? The prospect of the undesirable life of marriage and jobs looming on the horizon would certainly disrupt the peace and tranquility of Bertie’s bachelorhood. There are many moments of hilarity, peppered by deception and disguise.

Crew Call

Angie Flynn-McIver, co-founder of NC Stage, is directing this play as she has done many others in the past. The set designer is Julie K. Ross, costumes by Victoria Depew, props by Ken Horgan and lighting design by C.J. Barnwell. Other actors include NC Stage founder Charlie Flynn-McIver as Eustace Bassington-Bassington, a NC Stage regular Callan White as Aunt Agatha, and two new faces: Faith Levon as Gertrude Winklesworth-Bode and Guisseppe Joens as Sir Rupert Watlington.

The Lifespan of a Fact

From April 13 through May 22, an acclaimed 2018 Broadway production, The Lifespan of a Fact, is coming to the Asheville stage. This was originally a book published in 2012 by John D’Agata and Jim Fingal. Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell, turned the book into a wonderful fast-paced play. 

A determined young fact checker is about to stir up trouble.  His demanding editor has given him a big assignment: apply his skill to a ground-breaking piece by an unorthodox author. Together, they take on the high-stakes world of publishing in this comedy of conflict. The ultimate showdown between fact and fiction begins with undeniable  consequences. The play is about status, truth and how one perceives and understands truth. These are certainly themes one could consider timely for today’s electronic age filled with misinformation. This play has adult themes and language.  

Online/Zoom Productions at NC Stage

As live theater came to a virtual standstill in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, NC Stage staff and board found a creative solution. They realized that a number of plays could be produced for online audience’s viewing. This of course would involve a great deal of effort, but was possible. The team took action.

Blood Done Sign My Name, adapted and performed in a one man production by Mike Wiley, was the first online production offered.  It was produced online through Zoom from the Clayton Center outside of Raleigh.  Mike Wiley is a North Carolina-based actor and playwright whose compelling works of documentary theatre yield powerful journeys through milestones and turning points of a shared American history. In the best-selling book Blood Done Sign My Name, author and historian Tim Tyson recounts the 1970 murder of Henry “Dickie” Marrow in Oxford, NC and the events that followed. 

For the plays that have been only virtual, the rehearsals and performances have all been broadcast via Zoom or Streamyard from the actors’, directors’ and stage managers’ homes—no easy task. Microphones were sent to people, and sometimes additional lighting, costumes and props were needed.   Thus (in conjunction with Immediate Theatre Project) NC Stage did a zoom version of Live from WVL Radio: It’s a Wonderful Life! a live radio play adapted by playwright and local Equity actor, Willie Repoley. Audience members viewed the clever presentation of a Christmas classic on their home screen. An appreciative audience tuned in from as far away as the coast of Maine, Ireland and even Rwanda. The next fully virtual production produced by NC Stage was The Book Club Play. 

This fall,  the downtown theatre opened back up to audiences at a very limited seating number, still the plays can be viewed virtually. Another Mike Wiley Production, The Fire of Freedom, about the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement, was the first, then another production came from Immediate Theatre Project, Live From WVL Radio: The Word Exchange. This Christmas there was a production from Art & Anvil’s Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an imaginative production that combined Dickens’ brilliant original text with both traditional and unexpected Christmas music. All these plays had a good number of in-person viewers as well as virtual, viewers. For stage productions, high resolution cameras are set up in the theatre and are controlled through the performance by a technician in the theatre. This allows for different angles, and for zooming in on parts of the performance.

Seating in the downtown Asheville theater is limited due to needed seat and aisle spacing, so it is best to get your in-person tickets as soon as possible. 

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