Lauren Van Hemert

Lauren Van Hemert

Lauren Van Hemert is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, where she majored in Journalism with a minor in Theater. Prior to graduation, Van Hemert hosted her own weekly talk show on Public Radio WDNA Miami and worked as a production intern for As The World Turns. A native of Miami, Florida, Van Hemert’s love of theater started at an early age during a New York trip when her father took her to see the revival of 'Oklahoma,' 'The Music Man' starring Dick Van Dyke, and 'Peter Pan,' starring Sandy Duncan. She currently lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and two children, where she has been an advocate for arts education in the schools and sensory-friendly experiences. She is a member of The American Theatre Critics Association and host of the RDU on Stage podcast. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram @onlylaurenart.




MOST POPULAR ARTICLES
LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: Exquisite Storytelling Makes the PlayMakers' World Premiere of Charly Simpson's JUMP a Must-SeeBWW Review: Exquisite Storytelling Makes the PlayMakers' World Premiere of Charly Simpson's JUMP a Must-See
Posted: Jan. 29, 2019


BWW Review: Theatre in the Park's A LIFE IN THE THEATRE Celebrates a Life Lived in the TheatreBWW Review: Theatre in the Park's A LIFE IN THE THEATRE Celebrates a Life Lived in the Theatre
Posted: Feb. 11, 2019


BWW Review: A Mother's Observations of Honest Pint Theatre Company's Production of THE HERDBWW Review: A Mother's Observations of Honest Pint Theatre Company's Production of THE HERD
Posted: Jan. 30, 2019


BWW Review: MISS SAIGON at Durham Performing Arts Center is Too Loud, Too Heavy-Handed, and Too MuchBWW Review: MISS SAIGON at Durham Performing Arts Center is Too Loud, Too Heavy-Handed, and Too Much
Posted: Jan. 23, 2019


BWW Review: Burning Coal Theatre's ASHE IN JOHANNESBURG, Good Story but Needs Some WorkBWW Review: Burning Coal Theatre's ASHE IN JOHANNESBURG, Good Story but Needs Some Work
Posted: Jan. 28, 2019


BWW Interview: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY'S James Young Talks about Grandpa Joe and the Importance of Theater for Young PeopleBWW Interview: CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY'S James Young Talks about Grandpa Joe and the Importance of Theater for Young People
Posted: Feb. 7, 2019


BWW Review: Oozy, Saccharine Sweet National Tour of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Just Might Be One Concoction Worth TryingBWW Review: Oozy, Saccharine Sweet National Tour of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY Just Might Be One Concoction Worth Trying
Posted: Feb. 13, 2019


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Interview: Paige McNamara and Francesca Ferrari Step Into Rock Icon's Shoes in A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN at NORTH CAROLINA THEATREBWW Interview: Paige McNamara and Francesca Ferrari Step Into Rock Icon's Shoes in A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN at NORTH CAROLINA THEATRE
Posted: Apr. 29, 2018


BWW Review: Fans Gleek Out During LM/DC Concert at DPACBWW Review: Fans Gleek Out During LM/DC Concert at DPAC
Posted: Jul. 1, 2018


BWW Feature: Tony Award Winning Costume Designer William Ivey Long Talks New Monograph, His North Carolina Roots and Designing With Improbable FabricsBWW Feature: Tony Award Winning Costume Designer William Ivey Long Talks New Monograph, His North Carolina Roots and Designing With Improbable Fabrics
Posted: May. 11, 2018


BWW Interview: Kristin Chenoweth Talks Upcoming Carolina Concerts, 'Trial & Error' and Giving For GoodBWW Interview: Kristin Chenoweth Talks Upcoming Carolina Concerts, 'Trial & Error' and Giving For Good
Posted: Jun. 20, 2018


BWW Review: Conservatory Students Prove They Are on the Right Track in North Carolina Theatre's Production of PIPPINBWW Review: Conservatory Students Prove They Are on the Right Track in North Carolina Theatre's Production of PIPPIN
Posted: Jul. 7, 2018


BWW Review: Theatre in the Park's Funny IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU Rides on the Coattails of Standout Comedic PerformancesBWW Review: Theatre in the Park's Funny IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU Rides on the Coattails of Standout Comedic Performances
Posted: Jun. 16, 2018


BWW Review: MAKS, VAL, & PETA LIVE ON TOUR: CONFIDENTIAL Brings Love Story to Durham Performing Arts CenterBWW Review: MAKS, VAL, & PETA LIVE ON TOUR: CONFIDENTIAL Brings Love Story to Durham Performing Arts Center
Posted: Mar. 23, 2018


BWW Interview: Penn Holderness Talks Viral Videos, New Musical in the Making, and Theatre Raleigh's ROCKY HORROR SHOW
October 20, 2018

After 18 years in the news business, Penn Holderness took a leap of faith and jumped into starting his own video production company. As a natural born storyteller, he wanted to tell stories that were not only interesting but relatable. So in 2013, he and his family posted their 'Xmas Jammies'video on YouTube. Since then, that video has been viewed over 17 million times, and he's gone on to produce almost 100 more videos featuring his wife Kim and two children, Penn Charles and Lola. Next week, Holderness steps out of his comfort zone once again to take the stage in Theatre Raleigh's production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW. Hear what he has to say about his family, creating original music, and becoming Riff Raff.

BWW Review: Burning Coal's Well-Timed Historical Drama STUFF HAPPENS is the Right Play for Right Now
October 16, 2018

On April 11, 2003, just two days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, along with General Richard B. Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed the media. When asked about the looting and the lack of law and order following the 'liberation' of Iraq, Rumsfeld said: 'Think what's happened in our cities when we've had riots and problems and looting. Stuff happens! Freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They're also free to live their lives and do wonderful things, and that's what's going to happen here.' The backroom deals and politics leading up to the invasion of Iraq are the subject of David Hare's historical drama STUFF HAPPENS. The play premiered in London in 2004. Two years later, it opened off-Broadway to critical acclaim. Last weekend, Burning Coal Theatre opened their season with Hare's play, which by his own account, is a fictional dramatization based on interviews, televised speeches, and transcripts.

BWW Review: Theatre in the Park's IT IS DONE Serves Up Spooky Tale Along With Fine Performances
October 15, 2018

A storm is brewing over Theatre in the Park (TIP), a storm of such magnitude that it brings three strangers together in a honky-tonk bar in the middle of nowhere. The barkeep in this gin joint is Hank. He doesn't see too much traffic (except in September), which makes this random Tuesday unusual. That is the premise of Alex Goldberg's macabre play IT IS DONE, which makes its regional premiere at TIP this month. The playpremiered in 2011 and was billed as one of the topLos Angeles Theatre Productions of 2012 by Brad Schreiber of 'The Huffington Post.'

BWW Interview: Temple Theatre's Cast and Director of GHOST Talk Love, Character Relationships, and the Challenges of Bringing a Beloved Movie to the Stage
October 11, 2018

The movie 'Ghost' opened in the summer of 1990. Twenty years later, it inspired a Broadway musical. While the movie was the highest grossing film of 1990, the Broadway version, which featured a large cast and a multitude of special effects, did not share the same box office success. 'On the Broadway stage they brought in a nationally known illusionist, who builds tricks for magicians all over the world, and it didn't really work,' says Bill Saunders, director of The Temple Theatre's production. 'It was such a huge show,' he says. 'It was 35 people in a show about four people, so we lost the heart and the soul of the musical.' After the show closed and went on tour, the creative team, along with The Fulton Theatre, reworked the show into a smaller-scale, chamber version that would be closer to the movie. The reimagined version premiered at the Fulton Theatre in 2016. Next week, the showopens at the Temple Theatre in Sanford. Hear more of what Saunders and the cast had to say about bringing this beloved movie to the stage.

BWW Review: No-Holds-Barred, RANDY RAINBOW Takes Down Trump and Friends One Parody at a Time in Durham
October 4, 2018

At the Carolina Theatre in Durham Sunday night, Randy Rainbow got a standing ovation before he even sang one note. In fact, one woman in the audience stood up and called him a national treasure, a beacon of frivolity amidst precarious times. Rainbow's show was interlaced with clips of his viral videos, stories, and live performances of his most popular parodies, including 'Desperate Cheeto,' 'Yes! We Have No Steve Bannon!,' 'Alternative Facts,' and 'Rudy and the Beast.' Rainbow credits his grandmother with 'planting the comedy seed.' He told the audience during the question/answer period that she was hilarious and both she and his mother encouraged him to always be himself. And it seems to be working for him. His last video, 'Kavanaugh' (to the show tune 'Camelot') has almost 400-thousand views and counting.

BWW Review: Raleigh Little Theatre's Timely REVOLUTIONISTS Feels Like the Right Story for Right Now
October 1, 2018

Last weekend, Lauren Gunderson's THE REVOLUTIONISTS opened at Raleigh Little Theatre, proving once again that women and feminists can be very funny. THE REVOLUTIONISTS tells the story of four women during the French Revolution: Marie Antoinette, an 'occasionally, unexpectedly profound queen who needs better press," Olympe de Gouges, the feminist playwright who published her "Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the [Female] Citizen" in 1791, Charlotte Corday, 'an assassin on a deadline,' and Marianne Angelle, a Caribbean slave who has come to France to rally for her people's freedom. Under the direction of Amy White, the capable cast of four women seem more comfortable with the quick-witted, comedic elements of Gunderson's smart script than the dramatic ones that mark the second act. Still, in the last moments of the play, the quartet come together in a display of sisterhood, solidarity, and strength, which is at the heart of this play, that is ultimately believable and poignant.

BWW Review: Theatre Raleigh's ONCE is Simply Grand
September 10, 2018

From the outset, it is clear, that Theatre Raleigh's production of ONCE is not going to be a typical theatrical experience, but a completely immersive one. Based on the 2007 movie of the same name, ONCE is a story about a Guy and a Girl who come together through their love of music. From the get-go, a band of players greets the audience with music and merriment, transporting the occupants of The Kennedy Theatre from Downtown Raleigh to smack dab in the middle of Dublin's North Strand. And that talented band of players it turns out makes up the brilliant ensemble cast, led by Jack Boice, Megan Ort, and Tracy Thomas. They sing, dance, act, and play multiple instruments, as do the two leads, played by David Toole and Morgan Parpan.

BWW Interview: Dave Toole And Morgan Parpan of Theatre Raleigh's ONCE Talk About Dialects, Making Music, and What's Next
August 31, 2018

Theatre Raleigh closes its Summer Season with the Tony Award-winning musical ONCE. Based on the 2007 film of the same name, ONCE tells the story of a Guy and a Girl who are brought together through their love of music. Dave Toole and Morgan Parpan play Guy and Girl in this production and sat down with me to talk about mastering dialects, playing musical instruments on stage, and what's next for Theatre Raleigh. ONCE runs from September 5 - 16 at The Kennedy Theatre at The Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

BWW Review: Theatre in the Park's IT'S ONLY A PLAY Has Makings of a Good Show, but...
August 16, 2018

There's an irony about sitting in a theater on opening night reviewing a play about a play and the sometimes-tempestuous relationship between the players and the critics. But that's exactly what Terrence McNally's IT'S ONLY A PLAY is about, a group of theater people waiting for the reviews of their play after the opening night performance. Last week, the show opened at Theatre in the Park (TIP) in Raleigh to mixed reviews. All the makings of a good show are there. The ensemble features some of the Triangle's most exceptional comedic performers including Ira David Wood IV, Brian Westbrook, Rob Jenkins, and Lynda Clark. In addition, the production is directed by the ever so talented Jesse R. Gephart. And the set is simply spectacular. But not even this talented cast and crew can save McNally's script, which feels more like a diatribe than a farce. Yes, there are funny moments, but they are few and far between and more reliant on the physical comedy of the competent cast than McNally's pen.

BWW Review: Intense and Fiery Performance Makes Theatre Raleigh's MASTER CLASS Riveting
August 11, 2018

With the fiery intensity of a tigress, Judy McLane channels opera diva Maria Callas in Theatre Raleigh's production of Terrence McNally's MASTER CLASS. The Tony Award-winning MASTER CLASS opened on Broadway in 1995. The play is inspired by the master classes Callas taught at Julliard in 1971 and 1972. McLane is masterful as the temperamental Callas, moving across the stage like a woman possessed, regaling the audience with stories, never 'missing an opportunity to theatricalize,' criticize, and dramatize.

BWW Review: Irreverent THE BOOK OF MORMON Still Big on Laughs, Slight in Shock Value
August 9, 2018

When THE BOOK OF MORMON opened on Broadway in 2011, it was called blasphemous, crude, raunchy, and genius. The brainchild of the creators of adult animated series "South Park," THE BOOK OF MORMON won nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This week it plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) for the second time. Having now celebrated its seventh year on Broadway and two national tours, it's hard to tell whether THE BOOK OF MORMON has lost some of its shock value or if audiences are just more desensitized to it; nevertheless, it's still ridiculously funny and wildly entertaining. THE BOOK OF MORMON is about two Mormon missionaries, who are sent to Uganda to spread the word of God. Knowing nothing about Africa, other than THE LION KING, they are totally unprepared for the harsh realities of this primitive village. But with the 'good book' in hand, they are determined to win over the villagers and maybe find themselves in the process.

BWW Review: Kristin Chenoweth Returns to the Stage in Boone After a Six-Week Hiatus and Lights Up the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts
August 7, 2018

Kristin Chenoweth kicked off the next leg of her tour in Boone after a six-week hiatus last weekend. She lit up The Schaeffer Center as part of the Appalachian Summer Festival. The concert was a homecoming of sorts for Chenoweth's ever-talented musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell who is from Wilson and graduated from the North Carolina School of the Arts. Chenoweth opened her concert with a selection of songs from The American Songbook, showcasing her soaring soprano voice and effervescent personality. She even channelled her character from the NBC series 'Trial and Error,' singing 'Bird in a Gilded Cage' first as Lavinia and then as herself, in true Chenoweth style. She recorded this part of the concert on her assistant's cell phone, which she posted on YouTube. For the next set, Chenoweth transitioned to singing Broadway show tunes including a most poignant and moving rendition of 'Bring Him Home' from LES MISERABLES, as well fan favorite, 'Popular' from WICKED. To end the show, she sang an eclectic mix of Don Henley, Dolly Parton, and Christian music singer Sandi Patty's 'Upon This Rock,' for which she was joined by a group of local students. The students also joined her in singing Campbell's inspirational ballad, 'Reasons for Hope.'

BWW Interview: From Dancing Queen to Opera Diva, Judy McLane Opens Up About MAMMA MIA, Maria Callas, and Theatre Raleigh's MASTER CLASS
August 5, 2018

This week, Judy McLane steps into Maria Callas' shoes for the opening of the Theatre Raleigh production 'Master Class.' 'Master Class' is about operasinger Maria Callas as she teaches a fictional master class at Julliard towards the end of her life. Written by Terrence McNally, the play opened on Broadway in 1995 and won two Tony Awards. McLane, who is best known for her work in the Broadway production of 'Mamma Mia,' trained as a classical singer and says sheis no stranger to Callas' work. She sat down with me to talk about Maria Callas, 'Mamma Mia' and more.

BWW Interview: 'New York Times' Bestselling Author Kate Moore Talks 'The Radium Girls,' THESE SHINING LIVES, and Radioactive Legacy
July 26, 2018

It is hard to believe that decades before Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania or the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, there were thousands of young women, many of them teenagers, who were exposed to radium in dial factories in the United States and around the world. Many of these women suffered untimely deaths from painting the dials of luminous watches, using their lips to bring their paint brushes to a point. The Radium Girls, as they became known, are the subject of THESE SHINING LIVES, which opens this weekend at The ArtCenter of Carrboro as part of The Women's Theatre Festival. 'To me, the story of The Radium Girls has a lot of similarity to the 'Me Too' movement,' says Director Jorie Slodki. 'This is a story about women whose bodies were considered expendable at work, and their bodies were harmed at work, and when they tried to get help, especially getting help from men, the men either lied to them about the nature of the problem, they told them that it wasn't a big deal, or they accused the women of causing the problem themselves.'

BWW Interview: Ramin Karimloo Reflects on The Avett Brothers, His Friendship with Joe Kwon, and Working with Andrew Lloyd Webber in Advance of His Raleigh Benefit Concert
July 24, 2018

t might surprise theater fans that Tony-nominated Ramin Karimloo's playlist includes an eclectic mix of Colm Wilkinson, the alt-rock band The Tragically Hip, and North Carolina's own, The Avett Brothers. But Karimloo says for him there is a common thread that ties his favorite genres of music altogether. 'I just love to tell stories where words are not enough to just say, where the emotion is too strong, and you have to sing,' he says. 'I think with songs from theatre, bluegrass, etcetera, there's a lot of emotion in the story.' 'That's why in my shows the gap between these genres are not as far apart as it seems on paper,' he adds. 'I'm grateful that I get a chance to crossover and sing such an eclectic mix.' And it's that eclectic mix that audiences can expect to hear when Karimloo joins The Avett Brothers' cellist Joe Kwon for a concert benefitting The Frankie Lemmon School and Development Center next month.

BWW Review: Raleigh Little Theatre's INTO THE WOODS Turns Spotlight on Talented Teens
July 20, 2018

Any Stephen Sondheim musical is a lofty feat for even the most seasoned of performers. Sondheim's music is notable for its quick syncopated rhythms, timing and nuance, which is one reason Raleigh Little Theatre's Teens on Stage production of INTO THE WOODS is such an achievement. INTO THE WOODS tells the story of a childless baker and his wife who look to reverse their family curse by venturing into a mythical wood full of familiar fairytale creatures, including Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Cinderella. The Tony-Award winning musical opened on Broadway in 1987 and inspired the 2014 Disney film of the same name. Like the stage musical and film, Act I, reimagines beloved fairytales right up to the point of happily ever after, with Act II taking a grim look at what comes after. And it is in Act II that the Teens on Kids ensemble really shine with their renditions of 'Moments in the Woods,' 'No More,' 'No One is Alone,' and the finale.

BWW Interview: Women's Theatre Festival's ECLIPSED Director Michele Okoh Looks Forward to Durham Regional Premiere
July 18, 2018

Before Danai Gurira exploded on the big screen earlier this year as Okoye in the movie BLACK PANTHER, she made history with her play ECLIPSED. The play opened on Broadway in 2016, marking the first time a Broadway play featured an all-female, all-black cast, director, and playwright. ECLIPSED will make its regional premiere next month as part of The Women's Theatre Festival. ECLIPSED is about five women who are struggling to survive the second Liberian Civil War. Four of the women are the forced wives of the Commanding Officer and one is a peace worker. 'One of the things that really struck me about this play and looking at the second Liberian Civil War was that it was the work of women that led to the end of the conflict,' says Michele Okoh, director of the Women's Theatre Festival's production. 'Yes, these women are in a position where they are being subjugated and where they are struggling for survival, but that's a temporary condition, and they will be able to shine.'

BWW Review: Women's Theatre Festival's GOBLIN MARKET Makes for a Visual Feast
July 15, 2018

Long before Disney introduced the world to Anna and Elsa, Christina Rosetti penned GOBLIN MARKET, a fairytale narrative poem about the power of sisterly love. In Rosetti's poem, two sisters, Lizzie and Laura, triumphantly overcome the temptation of goblin men in a haunted wood. Rosetti's piece has long been the subject of much interpretation and creative adaptations, including a musical version, which premiered at New York's Circle in the Square Theatre Downtown in 1986. This weekend. GOBLIN MARKET opened at Burning Coal Theatre as part of The Women's Theatre Festival. Fusing together classical elements of both ballet and opera, GOBLIN MARKET is a visual feast, from Miyuki Su's fantastical set design to Jennifer Palmer's (The Carolina Ballet) mesmerizing choreography.

BWW Review: NRACT'S Fun FIRST DATE Worthy of a First Impression Rose
July 14, 2018

FIRST DATE is a cute, somewhat formulaic, kitsch musical comedy that packs a whole lot of laughs. The show, which premiered at Seattle's ACT Theatre in 2012 and opened on Broadway a year later, kicks off North Raleigh Arts Creative Theatre's (NRACT'S) new season. The score features music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner of the upcoming movie-to-Broadway adaptations of 17 AGAIN and 13 GOING ON 30. Casey is a self-proclaimed serial dater who is set up with Aaron, who she dubs a BDV (blind date virgin). As the date unfolds in real time (sans intermission), the unlikely pair navigates through the ice-breakers, awkward moments, and conversational landmines all too familiar to anybody who has been on a blind date.

BWW Review: Theatre Raleigh's Inventive, Heartfelt BIG FISH Transports Audience to a Simpler Time
July 12, 2018

Theatre Raleigh's BIG FISH transports audiences to a simpler time, before the age of social media and the insatiable need to curate personal stories on small screens. This is the stuff of pure imagination. Based on Daniel Wallace's 1998 novel, BIG FISH centers around the character of Edward Bloom (Timothy Gulan), a traveling salesman who spins some tall tales about mermaids, giants, witches, and werewolves to his son Will (Chris Dwan). But Will, who is getting ready to start a family of his own, isn't buying the stories his dad is telling and is running out of time to reconcile the metaphorical river between them. Gulan's charismatic Bloom exudes a boyish charm and energy that makes it easy to buy the bill of goods he is selling. Lauren Kennedy's winsome performance as Bloom's wife Sandra is enchanting and heartfelt and reminds us that beyond her role as Producing Artistic Director of Theatre Raleigh, she is a Broadway star in her own right. Dwan, as Will, holds his own against the veteran leads and sings with a clarity that resonates throughout The Kennedy Theatre. And the strong supporting ensemble cast sing and stomp their way through Andrew Lippa's perky score and Abbey O'Brien's choreography with an eagerness that is infectious.



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