Larisa has been a Broadway fan since before she can remember. When she's not teaching kindergarten, she's seeing every show possible! Her three favorite shows are Hair, Spring Awakening, and In the Heights.
Photo Flash: Triangle Rising Star Awards
June 14, 2013
On June 2, the best and brightest from area high schools gathered together at the 2013 Triangle Rising Star Awards, honoring the best in high school musical theater. Each of the 20 finalists were nominated based on performances in their schools' productions, and represented a diverse array of shows including The King and I, Godspell, and Grease, among others.
The TEAM Creates New Work in Chapel Hill
June 13, 2013
Recently, the theater company called the TEAM did some work in Chapel Hill, as part of a residency program with PlayMakers Repertory Company. According to their website, 'the TEAM is a New York City-based theatre company dedicated to dissecting and celebrating the experience of living in America today.' Founded in 2004, the TEAM writes collectively as a unit, separately from their individual careers in the arts. They met collaborator Taylor Mac in 2008. Some members of the TEAM spent a week in residence with PlayMakers Repertory Company, developing new work by collaborating with each other and experts among the faculty at UNC. In the two-to-four-year process of writing a show, the week they spent in residence at PlayMakers is step one. Their current work focuses on the themes of drive and discipline, based on the idea that in America, perhaps we have an abundance of drive and a deficiency of discipline.
BWW Reviews: Old-Fashioned Fun at I DO! I DO!
June 2, 2013
Currently showing at Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh, the 1966 Musical I Do! I Do! Follows a married couple throughout the journey of their marriage, from their wedding night in their new home, to the day they move out of that home fifty years later. The couple, who comprise the entire cast, Agnes and Michael Snow, is played by real-life married couple Annie Floor and Erik Floor.
BWW Reviews: SISTER ACT Lifts Spirits in Durham
May 16, 2013
The lauded film-turned-hit-Broadway-musical Sister Act has come to town and is playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The show has everything from crime drama to nun choreography. It's fun for the whole family.
BWW Reviews: Raleigh Natives Shine in NC Theatre's THE DROWSY CHAPERONE
May 9, 2013
It's an old-fashioned musical - with a twist. NC Theatre's current production is the 2006 Broadway musical, The Drowsy Chaperone, subtitled, 'A Musical Within a Comedy.' The show's premise is that the narrator, named simply Man in Chair, guides the audience through his favorite show album (on vinyl, of course), the fictitious 1928 The Drowsy Chaperone. In a tongue-in-cheek look at the musical comedies of Broadway in the 1920s, the Man in Chair provides modern-day commentary on the things that make such shows at once laughable and wonderful. The show-within-the-show tells of a star, Janet Van Der Graaff, about to give up life on stage for marriage. Of course, no classic musical would be complete without its own off-the-wall subplots. The Drowsy Chaperone includes everything from a spit-take obsessed butler/hostess pair to pun-loving gangsters disguised as bakers, as well as Van Der Graaff's chaperone who has her own romantic entanglements with the hopelessly clumsy Adolfo. The premise is what makes this show work - the modern-day lens creates a show which is accessible without sacrificing on humor.
BWW Reviews: Fabulous and Heartwarming, PRISCILLA Takes on Durham
May 1, 2013
Durham just got a whole lot more glittery!
BWW Interviews: PRISCILLA's Wade McCollum Discusses the Show as it Rolls into Durham
April 29, 2013
Get out your most sparkly shoes, because Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is headed for Durham. This glitzy show follows drag queens through the Australian outback on a bus named, of course, Priscilla. The big production numbers are paralleled only by the heart of the storyline. Ultimately, it's a show about accepting yourself and others for their own brand of fabulous. I recently had the chance to speak with Wade McCollum, who plays Tick/Mitzi. I got the scoop on what it's like to perform in such a demanding show, how he prepared, and the ins and outs of his complex character.
BWW Reviews: SPELLING BEE Gets Big Laughs in Downtown Raleigh
April 28, 2013
The current production at Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee follows a group of kids (played by adults) as they navigate the fiercely competitive pre-teen spelling circuit. As the young characters compete for the top prize (a trip to Washington, DC to compete in nationals), they deal with social pressures, family tension, rampant hormones, and more. Don't let the plaid jumpers and pink overalls fool you - though this show is about kids, it's certainly for adults. The writing provides a grown-up's perspective on the chaos of pre-adolescence as the contestants proclaim that life is 'Pandemonium.' Audience members get in on the action as well, as several volunteers become contestants in the bee. Folks who are game for anything and don't mind some good-natured humor aimed their way should absolutely try their hand at the bee.
BWW Reviews: UNIVERSES' SPRING TRAINING Brings New Perspective to Chapel Hill
April 26, 2013
Closing out the 2012-2013 season at PlayMakers Repertory Company is the world premeire of Spring Training, a commissioned work by UNIVERSES, as a part of their prc2 line-up. UNIVERSES is a group of performers who create original work using a blend of performance styles, including vocal percussion, spoken poetry, music, and prose (and much more) to create dynamic new theater. Spring Training was inspired by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and deals with coming of age in America.
BWW Reviews: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST is Jolly Fun in Raleigh
April 17, 2013
The cast is truly an ensemble, but as Algernon Moncrieff, Gus Allen anchors the play with poise and consistency. Though the British accents aren't perfect, the actors seem to enjoy their work, and that translates to the audience. Though written over 100 years ago, the acting and directing prove that Wilde's work is still comically relevant and makes an entirely enjoyable evening of theater.
BWW Reviews: RUINED Brings Africa to the Triangle
April 15, 2013
Burning Coal Theatre Company's ambitious production of Ruined tells of the lives of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Amid a conflict which has no clearly defined 'good guys,' the women have little reprieve from the violence and well-established culture of sexual abuse. In a world where children are handed automatic weapons, no one is safe. The story follows Mama Nadi as she runs her own business, which is half bar and half brothel. Mama takes in women to work for her in the brothel, and it can be argued that the women are significantly safer there with Mama Nadi, since they cannot return to their villages and have no way of protecting themselves or earning income elsewhere. Making her own way as a single woman in war-torn Africa, Mama Nadi is rare. Three women who work for her, Josephine, Salima, and Sophie, are featured in the story. Mama takes a big risk by taking in Sophie, a girl who is 'ruined.' The meaning of 'ruined' is not explicitly evident, but it's clear that it devastatingly awful. Mama Nadi's is a somewhat neutral place, as men from both sides of the conflict patronize the establishment. Mama is no-nonsense, and maintains a strict 'leave your bullets at the bar' policy.
BWW Reviews: Relevant and Masterful CABARET at PlayMakers Rep
April 13, 2013
PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill is currently staging a production of Kander and Ebb's 1967 Tony Award-winning best musical Cabaret that is racy, dazzling, and thought-provoking. Starting and ending on two very different trains, and set largely in the Kit Kat Klub nightclub and in a boarding house, Cabaret features many characters of uncertain goals, ambiguous sexuality, and real heart, who are, whether they are willing to admit it or not, facing real danger with the rise of the Nazi Party looming. Though perhaps existing on society's fringe, the show is a real testament to the average German and their inability (or even refusal) to believe that something truly terrible could be brewing in their own nation. Interestingly enough, the story is largely told through the story of a Brit, Sally Bowles (played to perfection by Lisa Brescia), and an American, her lover Cliff Bradshaw (the undeniably charming John Dreher), as they provide a sort of outsider's perspective on how people reacted to the decline of Weimar Germany and the rise of Nazism. Hosted by the club's Emcee, played by Taylor Mac, the show goes from glitzy dance numbers to heartfelt ballads and back again as it navigates through one of the most tenuous times in the history of the Western world.
BWW Reviews: TIGERS BE STILL is Quirky Fun in Raleigh
March 26, 2013
The Actors Comedy Lab and Raleigh Little Theatre present playwright Kim Rosenstock's Tigers Be Still, a dark but hilarious tale of depression, grief, and escaped zoo animals. Presented in Raleigh Little Theatre's Gaddy Goodwin Teaching Theatre, Tigers Be Still is the simple enough story of a young woman, Sherry, trying to get her life back together as she starts her job as a middle school art teacher with a side gig as an art therapist. Oh, and it also happens that a tiger has escaped from the local zoo.
BWW Reviews: THE INNOCENTS is a Strong Debut for Common Wealth Endeavors
March 24, 2013
The theater scene in the Triangle is thriving, and a brand new theater company is jumping into the mix. There are so many wonderful voices bringing live theater to the area, and this one fits right in. Common Wealth Endeavors opened its debut season (which has been coined a 'beta test' of sorts) with the US premiere of young Canadian playwright Daniel Karasik's The Innocents.
BWW Reviews: Little Green Pig Brings Absurdism to the Triangle with DERKLÖWNSCHPANKENEFFEKT
March 23, 2013
The Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern is staging two pieces from the canon of the Theatre of the Absurd, both by Polish playwright S?awomir Mro?ek. Out at Sea and Striptease together create a night of theater titled derklownschpankeneffekt. Each of the two plays, approximately forty minutes apiece, is quite different. One features three men stuck on a raft far out to sea, and the other features two men (who may or may not be the same man, it's hard to tell) trapped in a room after encountering one another, at the mercy of a giant hand who wants their clothes.
BWW Reviews: ANYTHING GOES is a Hit in Durham
March 21, 2013
The 2011 Tony Award-winning Best Revival has docked in Durham and brings honest-to-goodness Broadway talent to the Triangle. Anything Goes is tap dancing its way into the hearts of audiences who are eager to see a traditional musical get new life.
BWW Review: One-Actor Show NOCTURNE Keeps Momentum with Mortall Coile and Burning Coal
March 17, 2013
One-actor shows are such a specific kind of challenge - how does one actor keep up the momentum? How does one actor keep the show lively and engaging? How does one actor memorize over an hour and a half of text? I certainly don't know the answers to any of those questions, but luckily actor Jesse R. Gephart and director Dana Marks have got it all figured out.
BWW Reviews: CLYBOURNE PARK Tackles Big Issues in Chapel Hill
February 18, 2013
PlayMakers Repertory Company is unafraid to tackle big issues, issues that are polarizing, issues which make audiences uncomfortable. The magic of PlayMakers is their ability to tackle those issues while showing their respect for the intelligence of the audience and trusting audiences to understand the value of taking risks in the theater. This has never been so true as with Clybourne Park.
BWW Reviews: MONTY PYTHON'S SPAMALOT Brings the Funny to Raleigh
February 15, 2013
The winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, Monty Python's Spamalot is has taken up residence in Raleigh, presented by NC Theatre and Broadway Series South. It is playing through Sunday at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
BWW Reviews: MARY POPPINS Flies into Durham
February 14, 2013
The world's best nanny has just flown into Durham, and has taken up residence at the Durham Performing Arts Center for one week only.
BWW Reviews: PlayMakers Rep's A RAISIN IN THE SUN Brings 1950s Chicago to the Triangle
February 9, 2013
PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill is currently showing Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun, playing in rotating repertory with Bruce Norris's sequel-of-sorts, Clybourne Park. In some ways a period piece, and in some ways shockingly current, A Raisin in the Sun is a gutsy look at race in America, from a voice and perspective that had gone largely silenced until the play's original production.
BWW Reviews: BUS STOP Brings Small-Town Charm to Raleigh
February 7, 2013
Bus Stop, written in 1955 by William Inge, and currently playing at Raleigh Little Theatre, tells the story of a Kansas country diner which, as the title implies, doubles as a bus stop, in the middle of a snow storm that strands several travelers. The travelers come from all walks of life, and include two cowboys, a night club singer, and a professor with a drinking habit and a proclivity for teenage girls. Add to the mix the diner owner, the bus driver, a high school-age waitress, and the town sheriff, and things really get interesting. The plot lines range from a cowboy trying to re-light the spark of a romance gone south to the bus driver's less-than-perfect ruse to secretly get the diner owner alone upstairs. Moments in the show run the spectrum of serious to comedic, but manage to achieve some real humanity along the way. The show is written in the style one would expect from a 1950s play - a little too polished, but loveable nonetheless.
BWW Reviews: GOOD Stirs Up Intrigue in Downtown Raleigh
February 3, 2013
Currently playing at the Burning Coal Theatre Company is Good, the WWII-era period play which follows an unlikely Nazi leader from writing novels all the way to supervising Auschwitz.
BWW Reviews: New Musical NERDS Takes on Raleigh
January 21, 2013
The new musical comedy, NERDS, is trying to make its way to Broadway, and it's starting out right here in Raleigh. This is a great opportunity for the Triangle theater community, and the show is absolutely worth a trip downtown.
BWW Reviews: On the Way to Broadway, JEKYLL & HYDE Comes to Durham
January 9, 2013
Jekyll & Hyde is hitting Broadway this spring, but it's making a pit-stop right here in the Triangle on the way. It's a rare and fun chance to see a show before it opens on the Great White Way. Top that off with three show-stopping stars, and it amounts to a theatrical experience you won't want to miss.
BWW Reviews: Keeping With Tradition at Raleigh Little Theatre's CINDERELLA
December 10, 2012
Raleigh Little Theatre's production of Cinderella is absolutely kid-friendly. It's my opinion that kids need theater early and often. So, why not let your kids dress up as Cinderella or Prince Charming and experience theater that is accessible for them? Your kid may even get to try on a glass slipper.
BWW Reviews: MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET Brings Legends to Life in Durham
December 6, 2012
Put on your blue suede shoes and head down to the Durham Performing Arts Center for a fun-filled evening of rock and roll legends. Million Dollar Quartet tells of the historic night, December 4, 1956, when four legends happened to be in the recording studio at Sun Records at the same time: Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash.
BWW Interviews: Talking with David Elkins, MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET's Johnny Cash
December 4, 2012
Opening exactly 56 years to the date of the actual event, Million Dollar Quartet is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center this week. On Tuesday, December 4, 1956, four music icons came together for a jam session. Those four - Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis - and that one fateful night are the subject of the musical. I recently had the chance to sit down with David Elkins, who plays Johnny Cash, to ask him about how he landed the gig, how he prepares for the role, and more.
BWW Reviews: IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY Brings Christmas Nostalgia to Chapel Hill
December 3, 2012
It's a Wonderful Life has been part of many families' Christmas traditions for decades, and now there's a new way to experience the story. PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill is offering playwright Joe Landry's interesting take on a live production of the show with It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.
BWW Reviews: Burning Coal's AS YOU LIKE IT
December 3, 2012
This winter, the Burning Coal Theatre Company in Raleigh offers a respite from the cold and into the forest of Arden with As You Like It. The play is a Shakespeare comedy first published in 1623, and follows would-be lovers Rosalind and Orlando into the forest of Arden after being banished from court. Rosalind and her cousin Celia are disguised - Rosalind as a man named Ganymede and Celia as a poor woman named Aliena. The forest is filled with more than its fair share of disguise and shenanigans as the characters therein try to navigate the confusing path to love and happiness.
BWW Reviews: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is a Win for Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh
December 1, 2012
If you think your family is crazy, just wait until you meet the Westons. The Weston family is the center of Tracy Letts' emotionally-charged Pulitzer Prize-winning drama August: Osage County, currently in performance at the Fletcher Opera Theatre at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, helmed by Hot Summer Nights | Theatre Raleigh.
BWW Reviews: SHREK THE MUSICAL Brings Magic to Raleigh
November 28, 2012
It is my humble opinion that the musical is better than the movie - it's a little bit sassier and totally hilarious. In particular, I find the character of Fiona to be especially likeable.
Photo Flash: JERSEY BOYS Tour Holds 'Rock Like a Man' Concert to Benefit BCEFA
November 16, 2012
This Past Monday, November 12th, cast members from the national tour of Jersey Boys hosted the a cabaret fundraiser called 'Rock Like a Man' at the Carolina Theatre to benefit BCEFA and the Carolina Arts Discovery Program. The show was hosted by cast members Curtis Wiley and Kaleigh Cronin.This Past Monday, November 12th, cast members from the national tour of Jersey Boys hosted the a cabaret fundraiser called 'Rock Like a Man' at the Carolina Theatre to benefit BCEFA and the Carolina Arts Discovery Program. The show was hosted by cast members Curtis Wiley and Kaleigh Cronin. The cast sang songs from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Bob Marley and more - and included several original songs written by cast members themselves. The event raised over $9000. Jersey Boys is running at the Durham Performing Arts Center through November 18th.
BWW Reviews: SHINING CITY Challenges at Burning Coal Theatre Company
November 14, 2012
The show, aside from any evaluation of whether or not it is "good," (I happen to believe it's very good, but that's a different point) is challenging - in the best way possible.
Frank Abagnale, Jr. Visits Raleigh to Talk CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
November 10, 2012
Frank Abagnale, Jr. visited Raleigh this week to have a Q&A with the audience of the musical based on his life, Catch Me if You Can, which is currently playing at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, presented by NC Theatre and Broadway Series South. Abagnale gave great insight into his life, the show, and what he's done since. He has been with the FBI for 36 years, working as an expert in fraud. Abagnale has turned down three presidential pardons, and credits all his success and the good in his life to the presence of his wife of over 30 years.
BWW Reviews: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN Flies Into Raleigh
November 8, 2012
Prepare for takeoff - the national touring company of Catch Me if You Can is currently playing at the NC Theatre, in the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium at the Progress Energy Center for Performing arts in downtown Raleigh. Despite a few minutes fixing a technical snafu during opening night, the show is off and running, and audiences are enjoying the upbeat tale of running from the law.