NC Theatre Celebrating 30th Anniversary
On May 24th, 1984, North Carolina Theatre, opened its doors to their very first production, Camelot. Under the direction of De Ann Jones, the production starred Terrence Mann as "King Arthur" and Sharon Lawrence as "Guinevere." Both actors have since gone on to have play countless other roles on stage, TV and film. The show opened with 825 season tickets sold and a total audience of 24,000. Upon Camelot's opening, The Raleigh Times proclaimed that "Broadway had finally come to Raleigh."
With this strong beginning, North Carolina Theatre's mission was written to reflect the Theatre's focus on producing major Broadway musicals of universal appeal as a way to help revitalize Raleigh's downtown in partnership with Raleigh's City Manager, Mr. L.P. Zachary. While Raleigh Memorial had been built during the Depression era, it had become largely unused and by the mid-80s had been shuttered. Under De Ann Jones guidance, NC Theatre sought to reinvigorate the building.
From the very beginning, the theatre committed itself to artistic excellence. Through an agreement with the Actors' Equity Association (the union for national performers), the Theatre committed to hiring a significant number of Equity performers for each production. Using the highest level of professional talent supported the Mission's goal of maintaining a professional theatre company in North Carolina. The successful formula of producing top-quality musicals with a blend of both professional national performers and top local talent was inaugurated and continues today, setting North Carolina Theatre apart in the Triangle arts community.
"Thirty years after De Ann Jones founded NC Theatre, we continue to deliver on our mission of culture, community and citizenship through creative and innovative strategies. We are thrilled that we provide opportunities for local actors the opportunity to perform alongside seasoned Broadway professionals. We've reached deep into the community to create meaningful partnerships to create a new spirit of collaboration and play a leadership role in defining the cultural fabric of Raleigh - the "Southern Capital of Arts and Culture," says President/CEO Lisa Grele Barrie.
As NC Theatre enters its fourth decade, the artistic quality of their productions continue to draw rave reviews from patrons and critics alike, as reflected in last year's review of The Drowsy Chaperone when News & Observer reviewer Roy Dicks dubbed North Carolina Theatre Theatre "The Southern Tip of Broadway." In recent years, the company has diversified its season with First National Tours, smaller works in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater and last January launched their first Pre-Broadway Engagement, NERDS.
"NC Theatre is now contributing to the future of the art form by producing and supporting new works, creating opportunities for local artists and audiences to interface directly with the Broadway community as they shape and develop a new musical from its inception," said Artistic Director Casey Hushion. "We aspire to maintain a level of excellence on our stage that is unparalleled, giving our patrons singular theatrical experiences that are emotionally engaging and that reflect our shared humanity through great storytelling."
NC Theatre recently announced their 2014/15 season which begins in October and includes their own original productions of A Chorus Line, Billy Elliot, Next to Normal and The Buddy Holly Story, along with two tours in partnership with Broadway Series South; Nice Work If You Can Get It and Peter and the Starcatcher.
The final production of the 2013/14 season will be Disney's The Little Mermaid playing July 29 - August 3rd, 2014 which will feature the usual blend of Broadway actors and local talent. Among that group is more than 15 North Carolina Theatre Conservatory students in the production. The NC Theatre Conservatory, located in North Raleigh, is the flagship training program of NC Theatre and features year-round classes in acting, song and dance. It recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary.
"The NC Theatre Conservatory is training the artists and audiences of tomorrow, with recent success stories like Reed Shannon (playing Michael Jackson in the tour of Motown the Musical) and English Bernhardt (who starred as Eponine in LES MISERABLES)," said Barrie. "NC Theatre enters its fourth decade with an eye toward the future and the continued cultural transformation of our community."
To learn more about North Carolina Theatre or purchase tickets to upcoming productions, visit www.nctheatre.com or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. For groups of 10 or more, call 919-831-6941 x5204.