Lee St theatre promises a season of farce, fear, and fun
Lee St theatre’s upcoming Season 15 includes lots of laughs, a few thrills, and music.
It begins in August with the North Carolina regional premiere of “The Play That Goes Wrong.” Lee St was the first theatre in the state to get the rights to the play, which ran on Broadway.
“The cast is incredible; they’re having a very fun time,” says Lee St Executive Director Rod Oden. “It’s a farce, with huge technical effects that are very challenging.” There’s a lot going on, he says, and “the cast enjoys discovering how they can execute it.”
At the first read-through, the cast had to take a break after 20 minutes because people were laughing so hard.”
Expect action in the preshow and during intermission.
“The Play That Goes Wrong,” Fridays and Saturdays, Aug. 19-Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m.; directed by Rod Oden. At opening night of a university drama society’s newest production, “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” things quickly go from bad to utterly disastrous. This 1920s whodunit has everything going wrong — an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines). Somehow, they make it through to the final curtain call, with hilarious consequences. Part Monty Python, part Sherlock Holmes, this comedy is guaranteed to leave you aching with laughter.
For more information about tickets, go to https://leestreet.org/season-15/the-play-that-goes-wrong/
Prepare for a scare
Stephen Dietz’s “Dracula,” which Oden has been in and tech directed, follows. “Capturing the novel is impossible,” Oden says, because of its length and complexity. This version “tells story from Mina’s perspective, then Harker’s, then Dracula’s.” The play shows how Dracula is effectively intertwined throughout the entire sequence. It has all the usual characters, from vixens to the lunatic Renfield.
“Dracula,” Fridays and Saturdays, Oct. 7-22, 7:30 p.m.
For a proper Halloween scare, this new adaptation of the classic horror tale restores the suspense and seduction of Bram Stoker’s classic novel to the stage.
For tickets, bring your garlic to https://leestreet.org/season-15/dracula/
The story of Jesus
For more family-friendly seasonal entertainment, try “Godspell,” the revival, with a more contemporary sound, more pop-rock, but all the same, familiar songs. “It is a really great story of parables, going through the Gospel of Matthew,” Oden says. This musical was a huge hit in the 1970s, with familiar songs like “Day by Day,” “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “By My Side,” and more.
The songs tell Jesus’ life story as followers dance across the stage. Dissolving hauntingly into the Last Supper and Crucifixion, Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance, and love come vibrantly to life.
“Godspell,” Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 2-17, 7:30 p.m. Experience “Godspell” by getting your tickets https://leestreet.org/season-15/godspell/
Adventures in senior living
If you liked “The Dixie Swim Club” and “Steel Magnolias,” you will love “Four Old Broads.” Oden says the play is in that vein, but farcical and very funny.
“Four Old Broads,” Jan.13-28, 2023, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Retired burlesque queen Beatrice Shelton desperately needs a vacation. A Sassy Seniors Cruise may be the ticket if she can convince her best friend, Eaddy Mae Clayton, to stop praying and go with her. Things have not been very pleasant at Magnolia Place Assisted Living since Nurse Pat Jones arrived. The newest resident, Imogene Fletcher, is suddenly losing her memory. Maude Jenkins is obsessed with her favorite soap opera and planning her funeral. A mystery unfolds as the gals try to outsmart the evil nurse and figure out why so many residents have been moved to “the dark side,” what that mysterious pill is, and what happened to Doctor Head. Hilarity ensues as Imogene goes undercover and Maude enters the Miss Magnolia Senior Citizen Pageant to throw the nurse off their trail. If they can solve the mystery, they may be able to make it to the cruise after all. To find out what happens, go here for tickets https://leestreet.org/season-15/four-old-broads/ .
On the edge of your seat
“Wait Until Dark,” is a new adaptation of the thriller about a blind woman confronted by criminals. The little girl has a larger part than in the original play, which was made into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn. Oden says the relationships and the climactic scene are told in a more engaging and thrilling way. “We might do it in the dark, actually … It’s intense. The character dynamics in show are great.”
“Wait Until Dark,” Fridays and Saturdays, Feb. 17-March 4, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Jeffrey Hatcher has adapted Frederick Knott’s 1966 play and given it a new setting — Greenwich Village in 1944. Blind but capable Susan Hendrix is threatened by three men in her apartment. As danger builds, Susan reasons that her blindness might be the key to her escape, but she and her tormenters must wait until dark to play out this classic thriller’s chilling conclusion. Guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat, find tickets at https://leestreet.org/season-15/wait-until-dark/
Too many opera stars
“Lend Me a Tenor,” is another comedy, with a producer trying to put on an opera. “There’s lots of chaos, running around, madcap comedy, trying to figure out who is who and why clothes disappear. “It’s a farce in its most definitive term.”
“Lend Me a Tenor,” Fridays and Saturdays, March 31-April 15, 2023. This classic comedy won three Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards. Set in September 1934, we meet Saunders, the general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, who is primed to welcome Tito Merelli, known as Il Stupendo, the greatest tenor of his generation, to appear one night only. Tito is late, accompanied by a series of mishaps including a double dose of tranquilizers, which causes him to pass out. Saunders and his assistant, Max, believe he’s dead. In a frantic attempt to save the evening, Saunders persuades Max to wear Merelli’s costume and fool the audience. Max succeeds, but Merelli regains consciousness and gets into an identical costume. Now two opera singers are bumbling about while two women in lingerie, both thinking they are with Il Stupendo, complicate matters. Tickets will be available https://leestreet.org/season-15/lend-me-a-tenor/
Hypochondriac and the quacks
“The Imaginary Invalid,” by Moliere, premiered in 1673, but it’s uncannily representative of modern times. Oden has wanted to do Moliere for a long time. “It’s a very relevant comedy even now, as Argan goes off on doctors, calling medicine hocus pocus.” The play readers for Lee St read it during Covid, a play about science being not real. “We’re setting it modern day, where Argan catches Covid, so it’s an updated version. “This is one time the actors will be masked, but the audience doesn’t have to be.”
“The Imaginary Invalid,” Fridays and Saturdays, May 12-27, 2023, 7:30 p.m. Laxatives, suppositories, bloodlettings and second and third opinions from the leading quacks are the order of Argan’s day, and hell on his wily, back-talking servant Toinette, His daughter, Angélique is in love with the impoverished Cléante, but Argan wants to marry her to Thomas Diafoirus, a medical dunce who can assure his father-in-law a lifetime of healthcare. A faked death scene finally teaches Argan where to place his trust. The play ends with his ceremonious, pig-Latin induction into the medical profession. Go https://leestreet.org/season-15/the-imaginary-invalid/ for tickets.
Law school the blonde way
The season closes with “Legally Blonde: The Musical.” Everybody is doing it nowadays, Oden says. “I’m a native of Southern California, so I get every joke, I have friends who are these jokes. This really takes the stereotypes and crushes them. We need a show where women are making their own choices.”
“Legally Blonde: The Musical,” Fridays and Saturdays, July 7-22, 2023, 7:30 p.m. Elle Woods seems to have it all, but her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend dumps her so he can attend Harvard Law. Determined to get him back, Elle ingeniously charms her way into the prestigious law school. While there, she struggles with peers, professors and her ex. With the support of new friends, though, Elle quickly realizes her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world. Tickets are available https://leestreet.org/season-15/legally-blonde/
“It is a lighter season, I like entertainment. People need a break. We need a little levity, we’re still all hurting from Covid. Not everything is back to normal so everyone needs a laugh,” Oden says.
“The Spotlight Series is where we’ll do the edgier things,” usually for just one weekend. “Lee St is still growing, the audience base has tripled, patron base has doubled. In that light, people enjoy lighter fare for the main shows.”
Look for an announcement of the Spotlight Series soon at https://leestreet.org/ .
More summer events:
- “Little Shop of Horrors,” Fridays and Saturdays, July 15-23, 7:30 p.m. For tickets, https://leestreet.org/season-14/little-shop-of-horrors/
- “The Sound of Music,” July 15, 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30, 7:30 p.m. July 17, 24 and 31, 2:30 p.m. at Piedmont Players Meroney Theater, 213 S. Main St., Salisbury. Go to https://piedmontplayers.com/#whats-on or call 704-633-5471 for tickets.
- Summer Artventures continue at Waterworks Visual Arts Center. Check out https://www.waterworks.org/make-summer-artventures or call the center at 704-636-1882 to check availability.
- Reels & Riffs, Bell Tower Green, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” July 8, 9 p.m.; “Cars,” July 22, 9 p.m.; Aretha Franklin Tribute by the Jamie Wright Experience, July 16, 7 p.m.; Edwin McCain Trio, July 30, 7 p.m.
- Gold Rush Days’ Art and Craft Festival in Historic Gold Hill, July 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Historic Gold Hill, 840 St. Stephen’s Church Road.