Friday, December 18, 2009

The Full Monty Auditions - Raleigh & NYC

Auditions for The Full Monty and Cinderella were last Sunday, December 12th in Raleigh and they were a huge success. We had a ton of new faces show up and are so pleased with the turnout. It was particularly interesting and challenging this time around because we were holding auditions for two completely different productions. The Full Monty director (Matt Lenz) & choreographer (Joshua Rhodes) flew in along with Cinderella director (Gabriel Barre) & choreographer (Jennifer Paulson Lee). Casey Hushion, NCT's artistic director, and Carolee Baxter, NCT's producer were there also. While it was a long day - we had callbacks later that night - we saw many talented singers and dancers from the Raleigh area.

The next morning, Sunday December 13, we flew up to New York City to hold The Full Monty auditions. On Monday we held appointments at Ripley Grier Studios and saw LOTS of people - practically everyone showed up and it was a crazy day! Call backs were on Tuesday, and those who made it to that round were given 'sides' for a particular character and a song that the character sings, and came back to read/sing those for the creative team on Tuesday. They definitely have some tough decisions to make - so many talented people came in - I can't wait to find out who is cast and share it with you!

While the auditions did make for long days, we were able to do some fun things at night! It was absolutely beautiful (but freezing) in the city - all of the Christmas decorations are up and it was really nice being up there right before the holidays. Carolee and I saw Next to Normal, which was great but very sad. The cast was phenomenal and it was Alice Ripley's birthday the night we saw it! She came out of the stage door and everyone sang 'happy birthday'.

The next night I saw the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and it was SO amazing! Our very own conductor/musical director Edward G. Robinson led the orchestra and it was so much fun to see him up there. He was truly a rock star. A few different times they would raise the pit and he was singing and doing a fabulous job. After the show was over, he took me backstage. I got to meet Ted, the camel (see picture), which was the highlight of the tour for me! The theatre and stage is massive, so it was interesting to see how everything fit together back there - one big puzzle piece. The Rockettes were always in sync and a lot of fun to watch - if you get the chance to go up there at Christmastime, you should definitely see this show. Special thanks to Eddy for taking me backstage - I had a blast!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weekend Fun with NCT

We had a blast at the opening of Winterfest and were excited to be a part of such a lively, festive holiday celebration in the downtown! Bravo to Downtown Raleigh Alliance for pulling off such a great event.

Ray Walker had the crowd in the palm of his hand with three holiday show stoppers on the main stage. Meanwhile, over at the Busy Bee Cafe, Curtis Brown's photographs of past productions were on display and we celebrated the launch of "HipTix" - our new ticket program for anyone 21-30. We're planning a lunchtime skating party on the ice rink - come join us!

Enjoy some pictures from Retrospect last week:

NCT Producer Carolee Baxter & Ira David Wood III - star of our upcoming production The Full Monty

Mitch Danforth was a huge part in the success of Retrospect, along with NCT President & CEO Lisa Grele Barrie

Jay Wright stopped by the event after accompanying Ray Walker on the keyboard

NCT Board Member Jeff Weatherspoon & wife Mamie

Kristina Andrews, Kristin Buie & Brittnye Batchelor helping out at the event

Friday, December 4, 2009

Retrospect: NCT by Curtis Brown

We hope to see you at The Hive (above Busy Bee Cafe) tonight for our gallery show - Retrospect: NCT by Curtis Brown. Curtis has been our production photographer for the past few seasons and we are excited to showcase his brilliant work!

We are also launching HipTix at the event. Buy your HipTix subscription tonight and here's what you get:
1. The chance to have a walk-on role in The Full Monty starring Ira David Wood III and Sally Struthers
2. The $8 handling fee waved

Curtis Brown Photography is raffling off FREE headshots as well as nine other other prizes!

This is something you don't want to miss!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Introducing...HipTix at NCT!

We are so excited to finally unveil this project! As you may already know, North Carolina Theatre has a program called Student Preview Night ($10 tickets for all students and teachers) and after you graduate from the program, it may be hard to make the jump from $10 to a full-priced ticket. So...after much brainstorming we have come up with HipTix and we hope a lot of young professionals in Raleigh will join the group!

How it works: purchase a HipTix subscription for $100 ($25 per show) - nearly 50% off the single ticket price - and enjoy the benefits!

HipTix members will attend the Wednesday night performance for each production. If for some reason you can't make that particular performance, we will gladly exchange your ticket(s) for either a Tuesday or Thursday evening.

Show Schedule
The Full Monty: March 3 at 8 PM
Cinderella: April 14 at 8 PM
Annie: July 28 at 8 PM
Little Shop of Horrors: September 22 at 8 PM

*prices at nearly 50% off the single ticket price
*networking opportunities - at a designated Empire Eats restaurant there will be a pre-show reception with drink & appetizer specials, and you get to mingle with fellow HipTix members
*enjoy the Empire Eats employee discount (30% off!) for you and a guest four times a year, available during the run of the show
*additional special offers sent right to your inbox
*purchase additional single tickets at the subscriber discount
*personalized customer service

To download the order form and for FAQs, click here!

HipTix is sponsored by
HipTix members will receive special offers to the following restaurants:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Exciting Events at Winterfest & First Friday!

We are very excited to participate in Winterfest this year - Raleigh's premier holiday event - on Friday, December 4th from 5 to 11 PM. The plaza will be transformed into an outdoor skating rink and the event is a family-friendly celebration with lots of activities and performances for everyone to enjoy! Our very own Ray Walker will entertain audiences with his stunning voice in what we call a "Christmas Showstopper." Stay tuned for more details on when he will actually sing during the event.

As you already know, Ray Walker is a Broadway veteran - having been in Les Miserables, Grease and Jesus Christ Superstar. He also created the role of Freddie in the Off-Broadway revival of Chess, supervised by Tim Rice, and appeared in the world premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind. Currently, Ray is the artistic director for our Conservatory in North Raleigh. Check out our class listings here!

NCT will also be participating in First Friday with our fabulous production photographer, Curtis Brown for RETROSPECT: NC Theatre by Curtis Brown. Curtis has been our photographer for the past five seasons and we will showcase some of his most stunning pieces at The Hive (upstairs of Busy Bee Cafe) from 6 to 10 PM on Friday. Be sure to stop by and take a look at his work and mingle with fellow arts supporters! We will also be launching our new young professionals program called HipTix, so you don't want to miss out on that - especially if you are 30 and under - you qualify for great discounts to great shows!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Board Members

At the final board meeting of 2009, seven new board members were voted in including:
They join a prestigious group of community leaders who are committed to the mission of NC Theatre. We're excited to have them on board!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NCT Featured on UNC-TV!

Hilary Russo, a reporter for UNC-TV, approached me this summer with an idea about promoting North Carolina Theatre on their station. The segment she was doing was North Carolina Destinations - and she felt that with our rich history in downtown Raleigh and North Carolina - we were an appropriate fit and great destination in Raleigh!

From there we began brainstorming possible people for her to interview to make the segment and quickly came up with our list:
De Ann Jones - Founder of NCT
Lisa Grele Barrie - Executive Director of NCT
Ray Walker - NC Theatre Conservatory Artistic Director
Lauren Kennedy - NC Theatre Alum/Broadway star
Kathleen Lynch - NC Theatre Alum/student in our Kids on Broadway program

The interview process went really well and I gave her footage of our past productions to showcase the quality and talent that is on our stage performance after performance. After Hilary put the finishing touches on the piece, it aired on Thursday, October 15th! In case you missed it, they put it up online as well! Click on this link (, scroll down to October 15th and click on NC Theatre! Enjoy!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Full Monty & Cinderella Auditions!

NC Theatre Auditions in Raleigh for

Seeking male and female singers, actor/singers and singers who dance.
All ethnicities are encouraged to audition.

Time: Vocal auditions begin at 2:30 PM, Saturday, December 12th.

Location: NC Theatre Studios/Conservatory (3043 Barrow Drive Raleigh, NC 27616)

Sign up: You may sign up for auditions ahead of time by calling Carolee Baxter (all contact information is below). To sign up ahead of time you must email, fax or mail your headshot (or photo) and resume and give your phone number, email and address (if it is not on your resume). Specific appointment times are not given. All auditionees are seen first come/first serve starting at 2:30 PM based on sign in position. Calling ahead gets your name on the list so you do not have to wait in line to sign up on the day of auditions. On the day of auditions, walk-ins will be accepted on a time available basis in the order in which he/she signs in. There is no fee associated with these auditions.

Please bring:
1. Two copies of headshot/resume.
2. Sheet music in your key. Audition song should be a musical theatre selection or piece in the style of the show that shows your vocal range and ability. Be prepared to sing 16 bars or more if asked. Accompanist provided by NC Theatre (no taped accompaniment or accapella allowed).
3. Loose clothing or dance attire, soft soled shoes or jazz and/or ballet shoes for callbacks.

Callbacks: Callbacks for both THE FULL MONTY and CINDERELLA (ENCHANTED EDITION) are the same day following the vocal auditions. Callbacks will include movement, reading and possibly more vocals.

Pay/contract: All adult roles (ages 18+) are paid. North Carolina Theatre employs Equity and nonEquity performers.

Please click the show specific audition links below for detailed information on audition procedures, age ranges being cast, roles available, show director and choreographer, rehearsal and performance dates and content.

To sign up to audition for THE FULL MONTY and/or CINDERELLA (ENCHANTED EDITION) on Saturday, December 12th or for more information after reading the details in the above links, please contact Carolee Baxter at 919/831-6941 x6945 or Photos and resumes can be emailed to the above email address, faxed to 919/831-6951 or mailed to: North Carolina Theatre, attn: Carolee Baxter, One East South Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

NOTE: Please check frequently for audition updates or possible changes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our Beautiful Cast!

Aren't they great?! You have FIVE chances left to see this show...tonight (10/23) at 8 PM, tomorrow (10/24) at 2 and 8 PM and Sunday (10/25) at 2 and 7 PM! If you haven't seen it, you better be there!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reviews of West Side Story

There are six more performances of West Side Story and it has received rave reviews from patrons and critics alike! If you haven't already seen them, I'll give short snippets below and then a link to read the full review.

Roy Dicks of News & Observer said, "Right from the dazzling prologue, in which Jets and Sharks whiz, soar and collide with marvelous precision, the bar is set for high-energy, eye-popping sequences. Whether it's the stage-filling coupling in "Dance at the Gym," the sassy frenzy of "America," the angry contortions in "Cool" or the raunchy antics in "Officer Krupke," the entire company impresses mightily." Read the full review here.

Byron Woods of Independent Weekly states, "...this West Side registers with strong performances by principals. Josh Young and Catherine Cheng Jones both evoke a numinous sincerity as romantic leads Tony and Maria, the Romeo and Juliet figures in this gritty, urban retelling of Shakespeare's tragedy. Their voices are as sure as their characters in duets like "Tonight" and "Somewhere." Read the full review here.

Classical Voice of North Carolina says, "it is the ingenious way that producer Carolee Baxter and dynamic director/choreographer Josh Bergasse have put the pieces together with a vivacious cast and invigorating full orchestral accompaniment, with musical director Edward G. Robinson wielding a deft baton, that makes this 2009 Triangle edition of West Side Story not only a must-see musical, but a home-grown production to rival any Broadway tour." Read the full review here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

West Side Story Video

I was able to take some footage during the West Side Story dress rehearsal last week and wanted to share a few videos with you! We have 8 performances left - Tuesday, October 20 through Sunday, October 25. If you haven't seen the show yet, you do not want to miss it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

West Side Story Production Photos

Josh Young (Tony) sings "Maria"

Catherine Cheng Jones (Maria) and Josh Young (Tony) during "Tonight"

Balcony scene

Asmeret Ghebremichael (Anita) and the Shark Girls during "America"

The Jets dance during "Cool"

Fun dance shot during the Ballet Sequence

Tony & Maria during "Somewhere"


Maria & Anita during "A Boy Like That/I Have A Love"

Maria singing "I Have A Love"

Maria & Lt. Schrank (Chris King)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Complete Cast List - West Side Story

RIFF, the leader: Leo Ash Evens*
TONY, his friend: Josh Young*
ACTION: Joey Calveri*
A-RAB: Eric Mann
BABY JOHN: Mikey Winslow*
SNOWBOY: Todd Michel Smith*
BIG DEAL: Patrick Mullen II
DIESEL: Brandon Rubendall*

GRAZIELLA: Kiira Schmidt*
VELMA: Kristin Sears
MINNIE: Sara Edwards*
ANYBODYS: Allison Nock

BERNARDO, the leader: Freddy Ramirez*
MARIA, his sister: Catherine Cheng Jones*
ANITA, his girl: Asmeret Ghebremichael*
CHINO, his friend: Adrian Pena*
PEPE: Mathew DeGuzman*
INDIO: Mario Martinez*
ANXIOUS: Elgin Giles
NIBBLES: Cedric Stapleton
LUIS: Jimmie Lee Brooks III

ROSALIA: Vanessa Van Vrancken*
CONSUELO: Michelle Marmolejo*
TERESITA: Christine LaDuca*
FRANCISCA: Nicole Batalias
MARGARITA: Caroline Jordan

DOC: Danny Norris
SCHRANK: Chris King
KRUPKE: Tim Caudle*
GLADHAND: Chris King

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

News 14 Interview

Josh Young (Tony) and Catherine Cheng Jones (Maria) were on News 14 this morning with Tracey Early promoting West Side Story! In case you missed it, watch below.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dinner + Drama

proudly present

Enjoy dinner at one of three Empire Eats restaurants and experience the drama as it unfolds on stage during West Side Story!

Tuesday-Thursday, October 20-22

Make it a date night, girls night out or a family affair - all for only $49* per person for a cultural night out that includes:
-one three-course, pre-fixe dinner at The Duck & Dumpling, Gravy or Sitti in downtown Raleigh followed by
-one mezzanine ticket to NC Theatre's production of West Side Story in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium

Call 919-831-6941 x6941 now to make your reservation for a fabulous meal and a memorable theatre experience!

*(Retail value for this package is $80 per person)

Conditions: all seats are best available in mezzanine section subject to availability; cannot be applied to previously purchased tickets; dinner packages do not include beverages, tax or gratuity; packages not redeemable for cash. Packages must be purchased 24 hours prior to dinner/performance.

West Side Story Radio Interviews

Over the past week, I have taken Josh Young, who stars as Tony, and Freddy Ramirez, who stars as Bernardo, on a few radio interviews! Josh and Freddy were both on WPTF, La Ley and 93.9 KISS FM, and Josh called in to MIX 101.5 to talk with Bill & Lynda about the production as well.

Click here to listen to the MIX 101.5 interview!
Click here to listen to the WPTF interview!

Watch a short clip of the 93.9 & La Ley interviews below:

Stay tuned for other press videos - Josh Young & Catherine Jones (Maria) will be on News 14 tomorrow!

Q&A with WSS Director - Joshua Bergasse

West Side Story director Joshua Bergasse was interviewed by Robert McDowell of Classical Voice of North Carolina. Read below to see his take on the show!

1. When did you first see or read or hear about this show? Have you ever worked on a previous production of this show? If so, when and where?

The movie WEST SIDE STORY was one of my favorites growing up. My first experience with the stage version was performing in a community theatre production as a teenager. Since then I have worked on eight productions of WSS, either as actor, associate director/choreographer, or choreographer.

2. What do you like BEST about this show? What made you WANT to direct it?

I love the perfect marriage of the score, libretto and the choreography in WSS. These three mediums are interwoven masterfully throughout the show to tell the story.

3. Briefly summarize the PLOT of this show in your own words. Please explain the SITUATION at the start of the show and how the various CHARACTERS fit in. (In your summary, please indicate the ACTOR’S NAME in parentheses following the character’s name.)

It is Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET set in 1950‘s New York City. At the start of the show we see two street gangs fighting for “turf”; The ‘white’ Jets led by Riff (Leo Ash Evens), and the Puerto Rican Sharks led by Bernardo (Freddy Ramirez). Tony (Josh Young), one of the Jets, falls in love with Maria (Catherine Cheng Jones), Bernardo’s sister. Maria is able to conceal the affair for a short time with the help of Bernardo’s girl, Anita (Asmeret Ghebremicheal), but ultimately the gang rivalry sets a series of tragic events in motion.

4. What MAJOR CHALLENGES does staging this show present to you as a director -- and to your cast and creative team?

One of the main challenges of staging WSS is the size of some of the dance sequences such as the ‘Prologue,’ ‘The Dance at the Gym’ and the 2nd Act ‘Ballet.’ Another challenge for the cast is the extrememly small “book” of the piece. The cast must search within aspects of the piece other than the script to help develop their characters.

5. Please describe the SET:

The set is based on the original 1957 Tony award winning production designs by Oliver Smith. It is inspired by New York City architecture of the 1950’s and in some cases is used in an abstract way and in other cases quite literally.

6. Please describe the LIGHTING:

The lighting for WSS ranges from stark and moody with shadows and texture in the ‘Rumble’ - to bright, sunny and warm in the ‘Ballet.’ The dance sequences are saturated with color from angles other than the front.

7. Please describe the COSTUMES:

The costumes are based on the original 1957 Tony award nominated production designs by Irene Sharaff. The inspiration comes from the styles of the 1950’s lower class New York City streets and with a good amount of Latino influence for the Sharks. The costumes are also designed to help us differentiate the Jets who are in blues, yellow and oranges - from the Sharks who are in reds, lavenders and Black.

8. Is there ANYTHING ELSE about this show -- or your production -- that it is important for the audience to know ahead of time? If so, what?

I think the most important thing about WSS is that it is still relevant today, 52 yrs after it originally open on Broadway. We’re still dealing with teen violence, we’re still dealing with street gangs terrorizing not only our inner cities, but our suburbs as well, and we’re still dealing with racism and bigotry. It’s a story that still needs to be told with lessons that still need to be learned.

Monday, October 12, 2009

West Side Story & Pop Culture

West Side Story has been popping up everywhere these days - whether it's in an episode of Flight of the Conchords with Brett & Jermaine bursting into their very own rendition of "Cool" and choreography to go with it...or in the movie Anger Management starring Adam Sandler & Jack Nicholson where they sing their version of "I Feel Pretty"...or to help promote MTV's Video Music Awards in September 2009 - Cobra Starship, Leighton Meester, Neyo, Katy Perry, Russell Brand & Taylor Swift team up to do a modern version of "Quintet." We hope you enjoy these videos below!

(Note: some content may be inappropriate).

While our version of West Side Story rings true to the original - complete with the amazing Jerome Robbins choreography and the score (and lyrics) you know and love - these videos go to show that Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim have created a timeless piece. The show was originally produced in 1957 and in 2009 we can still relate to the story and conflicts.

These are just a few examples of West Side Story in today's culture, but I'm sure there are more. Leave comments and let us know if you have found anything else, whether it's a similar video or lyrics from a popular song!

Another favorite is Web Site Story - check it out here:

PS - West Side Story runs October 17-25 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Click for tickets!

Friday, October 2, 2009

West Side Story Study Guide in Spanish!

Thanks to our wonderful board member, Mimi Stapleton, we now have our Target Student Preview Night study guide in Spanish for West Side Story! We will distribute both the English and Spanish versions the night of the show, but if you would like to take a look before hand, see below...enjoy!

2009 Noche de avance para estudiantes presentado por Target
West Side Story
October 16, 2009
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium | 7:00 PM

Sessión de preguntas con los actores después del ensayo.

Notado por los críticos de Nueva York y Londres como uno de los logros principales en la historia del teatro de la media centuria, West Side Story es una adaptación moderna de la obra Romeo Y Julieta de Shakespeare. El contexto de la historia es Manhattan, Tony Y María son Romeo y Julieta. Los novios luchan por estar juntos en medio de tensiones raciales y violencia.

Libro por Arthur Laurents
Música por Leonard Bernstein
Lírica por Stephen Sondheim
Musical basada en Romeo Y Julieta por William Shakespeare

Aviso sobre el contenido
Por favor fíjese que cierto tema no se conviene para algunas audiencias. La discreción parental se aconseja.

Datos Importantes

· West Side Story abrió en Broadway en 1957.

· En 1961 la película ganó diez premios de los Academy Awards, incluyendo mejor película.

· La revista Time encontró la danza y la guerra entre bandas más apasionante que la historia de amor

· West Side Story lanzó la carrera de Stephen Sondheim, quien se hizo uno de los artistas más notables del teatro musical en América.

Preguntas de Estudio

Language Arts
1. West Side Story se basa en la obra de William Shakespeare, La Tragedia de Romeo Y Julieta. ¿Considera West Side Story como una tragedia? ¿Defina la palabra “tragedia” y discute por qué o por qué no sea tragedia.

Conexiones modernas
2. El conflicto principal en West Side Story está entre el étnico y las diferencias culturales de la banda de puertorriqueños, los Sharks, y los caucásicos, los Jets. Las tensiones raciales eran extremas en los años 50 en América. ¿Cómo se compara al siglo XXI? ¿Cómo son las tensiones raciales evidentes en nuestra sociedad moderna?

Dance Arts
3. Jerome Robbins adquirió los papeles de director y coreógrafo para la producción original de West Side Story; pocos han alcanzado una grandeza artística en estas dos posiciones. La coreografía de Robbins ayudó cambiar la cara del teatro musical por acentuar la danza para mover la acción del cuento. Da ejemplos de cómo los movimientos en los bailes ayuda narrar el cuento. ¿Qué diferente tipo de danza observa?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

West Side Story Community Outreach

NCT applied for (and received!) an Arts & Audiences Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council (NCAC), seeking to engage new and diverse audience members through outreach activities to the Latino community in the Triangle area. We are thrilled to have the following outreach opportunities in place for West Side Story:

1. Learn the 'Mambo' at the North Carolina Theatre Conservatory - Friday, November 13, 6-7 PM!
NCT is offering a free master dance class taught by NCT Conservatory Dance Department Head & Broadway veteran, Tito Hernandez! Come learn the 'Mambo' from West Side Story - Tito will lead the class in Spanish with assistance by Conservatory student (& WSS cast member) Carly Jordan! The class is open to the first 75 people who enroll.

2. See West Side Story at a Discounted Price!
Calling ALL students & teachers of ANY age - come to Target Student Preview Night on Friday, October 16th at 7 PM and see the show for only $10! After the show, there will be a Q&A with the cast and crew with a translation in Spanish. We will also provide a study guide as well.

3. Attend the FREE dress rehearsal for West Side Story on Thursday, October 15th at 8 PM.
NCT is targeting young, Latino professionals (age 18-40) by opening up dress rehearsal to a limited amount of guests. This gives a unique, behind-the-scenes look at the NCT process - seeing the production during a rehearsal and then coming back for another performance!

We are excited about these opportunities and hope to have a good turn out!

Monday, September 28, 2009

2nd Annual BFA Showcase at the NC Theatre Conservatory

It’s amazing how much stress and anxiety can ooze from five teenagers in one room. This past weekend, five of NCT Conservatory’s top students performed in the BFA Showcase for three professors from top performing arts schools. Professors include Aubrey Berg from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Gayle Seaton from Florida State University and Mark Madama from theUniversity of Michigan.

Lydia Leggett, Jessica Koons, Logan Williamson, Carly Jordan & Meredith Davis were the lucky few who would be running through a mock audition with these professors.

First, they learned a new dance routine taught by Tito Hernandez. Then, they were given group feedback and changed to prepare for their individual audition. They sang one song and performed one monologue for the panel and were then critiqued individually. All of the professors had great criticism and the students each went away knowing what they needed to work on. While the overall mood was anxious and nervous, they all received priceless advice that will help them when they start auditioning for colleges.

This was the second year that the NCT Conservatory has provided a BFA Showcase and all the parents, students, and professors had nothing but positive things to say about the program!

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please click here for more details or call NCTC program director, Heather Patterson King, at 919-855-0015.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dinner on Stage Performers Announced!

Dinner on Stage with NCT is a very special event for our leading role donors*. This year's event will take place on Monday, October 19th on the stage of Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Dinner on Stage is always on the dark Monday during our last show of the season, and our donors have cocktails, appetizers, dinner and delicious desert among the set on stage! It's a very unique event - and is a great excuse to get all dressed up to come to the theater for a special occasion.

For our 5th year - we are very fortunate to have three talented performers grace the stage for a fun-filled evening of entertainment. They are:

Ray Walker - NC Theatre Conservatory Artistic Director and Broadway veteran (Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease, Les Miserables)

Lauren Kennedy - Broadway Veteran (Sunset Boulevard, Side Show, Spamalot & Les Miserables)

John Arthur Greene - former NCT Kids on Broadway and main stage alum, now starring as Riff in Broadway's West Side Story

Stay tuned for pictures from the event - and if you want to be a part of this special evening or future Dinner on Stage events, please contact the Devlopment Department at 919-831-6941 x6948. Contributing to our Annual Fund at all different levels gives you a host of benefits at NCT! Click here for more details.

*Leading role donors give $1,500 or more to the Annual Fund.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

West Side Story & Romeo & Juliet

Past NCT production of West Side Story

WSS is the modern adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, written in the late 1590s by William Shakespeare. Where Romeo & Juliet were star-crossed lovers in Verona, Italy, Tony & Maria (of WSS) are star-crossed lovers in the violent streets of New York, doomed by social conditions they cannot control. Like Romeo & Juliet, Tony & Maria are from opposite groups and this poses major problems in their relationship.

WSS takes place over two days, with the song and dance pushing the plot along at a rapid pace. In Shakespeare's story the Capulets and Montagues are the feuding families, and in WSS the Jets (who consider themselves "American") and the Sharks (who are Hispanics, mainly of Puerto Rican ancestry) are two feuding neighborhood gangs. I won't give away the ending, but if you are aware of how Romeo & Juliet concludes, that should be some indication - this is a tragic love story.

Romeo & Juliet

Although WSS debuted on Broadway in the 1950s, it is still relevant today and is currently playing on Broadway, but with a new twist. Their version has some songs and dialog in Spanish, to make the story more authentic. However, they have recently changed some of these songs back to English so that the audience can better understand what is going on in the story.

Our version of WSS being produced for Triangle audiences only (running Oct. 17-25 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium) will be spectacular! Josh Bergasse, the director and choreographer, is going to bring a lot to the table to keep the story fresh and exciting, and showcase the Jerome Robbins choreography as well.

WSS director, Joshua Bergasse

Tickets are on sale now - call the NCT Box Office at 919-831-6941 x6944, Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit for more information.

Friday, September 11, 2009

West Side Story Leads Announced

NC Theatre is thrilled to produce West Side Story! We held auditions in Raleigh and NYC and have assembled a very talented cast. Here are the leads in the show:

Josh Young - Tony

Catherine Cheng Jones - Maria

Catherine is known to NCT audiences from her experience in Miss Saigon (Mimi), Jesus Christ Superstar, Dreamgirls and Beauty and the Beast. She was also in Camelot at New York Philharmonic, The King & I in Broadway Asia.

Leo Ash Evens - Riff

Leo starred in The West End production of West Side Story as Riff. Off-Broadway, he was in Wanda's World, Signs of Life and I Prefer to Dream. He also starred as Riff in the National Tour of West Side Story and was in the National Tours of Disney's on the Record, 42nd Street and Casper The Musical.

Asmeret Ghebremichael - Anita

Asmeret was in the Broadway productions Legally Blonde, Spamalot, Wicked and Footloose. She was in the original company of In the Heights Off-Broadway and was in the World Premiere of A Little Princess.

Freddy Ramirez - Bernardo

Freddy was in Grease on Broadway, and in the National Tours of Grease, A Chorus Line, Peter Pan and Tangol. Regionally, he was in West Side Story (Bernardo/Action), Godspell (Lamar), Anything Goes (Billy), Cabaret (Victor) and others.

Rehesarsals start October 5th and the show runs October 17-25th in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Full cast list to be posted soon - stay tuned!

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Annual Producer Trip to the Big Apple

I was honored to be a part of the first annual Producer Trip to New York August 5-7! As part of our annual fund, Producer level individual donors to the NCT are invited to attend auditions in New York and see a Broadway show (or two!). The inaugural trip included Walter Powell and Melody Fountain, Debbie and Mary Beth Woody, Edythe Poyner and Florence Lumsden along with staff members Lisa Grele Barrie, Carolee Baxter and me! Our guests were invited to sit in and watch as Carolee busily worked with director Josh Bergasse, musical director Edward G. Robinson and artistic director Casey Hushion to audition over 400 men and women for West Side Story. Those of us non-production folks were very impressed with the outstanding talent we saw and very glad to not have to make the tough decisions about who would and would not be in the show.

Lisa Grele Barrie and Mary Beth Woody watching auditions at Equity Audition Center in NYC

We were fortunate to see two shows while in New York. The group saw Raleigh-native Lauren Kennedy as "Mary" in Vanities at 2econd Stage and loved it. Lauren's smile is infectious and we were grateful to have the chance to see her after the show and thank her for a great night of theatre!

The whole group with Vanities star Lauren Kennedy after the show

The second night we were there we saw In the Heights and thanks to our Aritstic Director Casey Hushion (who just happens to be the Assistant Director for In the Heights) we were able to get a "backstage" tour. We quickly saw that there was no backstage (actors have to run up and down a steep flight of stairs to change clothes between numbers) and instead admired the set up close. We said hello to a few of the actors, including everyone's favorite graphitti artist "Graphitti Pete" played by Seth Stewart and had our pictures taken...repeatedly. After all, how often do you get a chance to stand on a Broadway stage?

Carolee Baxter & Lisa Grele Barrie on stage at In the Heights

On stage at In the Heights

It was a very successful trip...thank you to Walter and Melody, Debbie and Mary Beth and Edythe and Florence for trusting us to "produce" an excellent adventure for you!

Friday, August 21, 2009

John Arthur Greene in Broadway's West Side Story

Congrats to John Arthur - a former Kids on Broadway and NCT performer! He has landed the role of "Riff" in the Broadway revival West Side Story - recently nominated for 4 Tony Awards. The News & Observer did a neat article on him, and he talks about NCT - where he got his start! We wish him nothing but the best of luck with West Side Story and all of his future endeavors!

To read the full article, click here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Up Next...Bat Boy!

Our next production is BAT BOY, August 6-9, in Meymandi Theatre at the Murphey School. This is our youth production and is a part of the Master Summer Theatre Arts School program, which is a continuation of our Kids on Broadway program.

BAT BOY is a classic love story with some serious "bite!"This delicious twist on the modern-day musical comedy tells the amazing story of a strange boy with pointy ears, his struggle to find a place in a world that shuns him, and the love that can create both miracles and madness.

Tickets are $10-$15 and are available by calling the NCT Box Office at 919-831-6941 x6944. Meymandi Theatre at the Murphey School is Burning Coal Theatre Company's new theatre located in downtown Raleigh at the corner of Person and Polk Streets. (Please note that there is also a PG-13 rating on this show).

Performance Schedule:
Thursday, August 6 at 8 PM
Friday, August 7 at 8 PM
Saturday, August 8 at 2 and 8 PM
Sunday, August 9 at 2 and 7 PM

Cast List:
Hillary Aarons (Ensemble)
Rachel Akin (Ensemble)
Amarachi Anakaraonye (Reverend Hightower)
Jackson Bloom (Ron Taylor)
Allison Bonner (Mayor Maggie)
Kathleen Bottomley (Mrs. Taylor)
Jonathan Cobrda (Bat Boy)
Jason Cooper (Dr. Parker)
Patrick Cyzewski (Bud)
Meredith Davis (Meredith Parker)
Elizabeth Galbraith (Ensemble)
Matthew Harvey (Clem)
Anna Higginson (Ensemble)
Aneesa Johnson (Ensemble)
Shelby Kurtzman (Ensemble)
Lydia Elaine Leggett (Ruthie Taylor)
Connor Lillis (Pan)
Courtney Poland (Ensemble)
Lily Rashid (Ensemble/Young Meredith)
Haley Richardson (Ensemble)
Morgan Richardson (Ensemble)
Tyler Betts Rollins (Ensemble)
Emily Schmid (Ensemble)
Mary Simmons (Loraine)
Joey Stephens (Rick Taylor)
Adam Stern-Rand (Roy)
Alex Tobey (Sheriff Reynolds)
Kelsey Walston (Shelley Parker)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Sound of Music Reviews

The reviews are in and The Sound of Music is a hit! If you haven't seen our production yet, come see for yourself! Both audiences and critics alike are loving the show and our talented actors who take the stage night after night to entertain Raleigh patrons.

Check out the glowing reviews here:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Sound of Music Dress Rehearsal Photos

Kate Fisher as 'Maria' sings 'Do Re Mi' with the von Trapp children

Kate Fisher as 'Maria' and Tom Galantich as 'Captain von Trapp' sing 'Edelweiss'

Captain von Trapp and Maria sing 'Something Good'

Finale scene

Kate Fisher as 'Maria' and Suzanne Ishee as 'The Mother Abbess' during 'Climb Every Mountain'

Photo Credit: Curtis Brown Photography

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Teaching Nun's Life...

This summer I have the joy of working not only as a teacher with the North Carolina Theatre’s Education Department but also as Sister Margaretta, a nun in the theatre’s production of The Sound of Music. And that is just what it is: “a joy.” I say this because not many words can describe the feeling of watching your own students grow as performers and individuals in the rehearsal and performance process of a full musical theatre production, and having the opportunity to work along side them – being then a part of that growth.

Part of this joy comes from watching the students take the ideas, philosophies and skills you have developed with them and use the skill on the stage in a major regional theatre production. Now we can reference actual moments in the classroom as well as allow the onstage experiences to reciprocate. For me, the best part of this production is seeing the students grow as individual performers – taking information and creating their own way of approaching material and creating as actors.

It is also a joy for me to experience the themes and material of The Sound of Music with the students. I see, and hopefully the students see, how theatre and music can transcend the everyday and help young artists as well as the community as a whole to touch on the artistic side of each of us. Experiencing a production such as this that focuses so much on the joy of creating art can encourage all those involved, from artist to audience, to become more creative and live their lives more fully and completely. And if all goes well we see how this translates to all those around us, fills our lives and everyone we come in contact with, with a more complete sense of self, a new way of approaching life, a fuller sense of living.

As a teacher, doing a production always teaches me. It makes me a better teacher by recharging the artistic battery and teaching me new ways of approaching material with my students. It may be new methodology of directing, working with others, and creating as a group. For the joy of teaching always is the give and take of ideas.

~Heather Patterson King, Sister Margaretta in The Sound of Music AND Program Director/Acting Department Head at the NC Theatre Conservatory