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Lees-McRae Theatre Arts to Perform Avant-Garde Musical ‘In the Green’ Nov. 10-13

 Lees-McRae Theatre Arts will bring to life the origin story of Hildegard von Bingen by performing “In the Green,” an eclectic, avant-garde musical by Grace McLean.

“In the Green,” which debuted off-Broadway in 2019, is a one-act musical with book, music, and lyrics by McLean. The show tells the tale of von Bingen, one of medieval history’s most powerful and creative women who became a healer, composer, exorcist, and eventually, a saint.

“In the Green” will be performed in Hayes Auditorium, Broyhill Theatre Wednesday, Nov. 10 through Friday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are complimentary and seating is general admission. Some rows will be closed to allow for social distancing.

“In the Green” begins with von Bingen locked in a cell with her mentor, Jutta. Joshua Yoder, show director and director of Theatre Arts, expects the show to appeal to Musical Theatre and Religious Studies students.

“We’ve got this well-known figure from the Middle Ages, and the people who know who that is will come here,” Yoder said.

“In the Green” features a five-student female cast composed of Audrey Nidiffer, Allison Dion, Hannah Wilcox, Sydney Lyles, and Annabella Mitchell. Nidiffer, Dion, and Wilcox will team up to play different versions of von Bingen while Lyles will play Jutta and Mitchell takes the role of Shadow. The actresses will utilize puppets and rhythmic speaking to convey emotions and tell the story.

Yoder said that of the show’s 90-minute run time, there are roughly fewer than five minutes that aren’t set to music.

“It’s practically an operetta. There are moments where there is not a melody but they are speaking in rhythms and there is percussion that goes along with it,” Yoder said. “We always speak to get something. They’re finding ways to both get the rhythm and communicate those things that the characters are trying to obtain.”

Yoder said the students have had to learn to take control of their processes, adding that working outside of rehearsal has been essential.

“The music is so difficult,” he said. “It’s complex. As an actor, whether you’re in screenplays or musicals, the expectation is that you’re rehearsing but also working on material outside of rehearsal and bringing ideas to the table. I think they’re working hard on that.”

The original off-Broadway production of “In the Green” garnered a Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theatre and multiple Lucille Lortel Awards. Yoder said performing the lauded, unique musical allows the students to get hands-on with something different and expand their ideas of what a musical can be.

“It’s such a flex for all of us,” Yoder said. “I’ve never worked on anything like this and I don’t think any of the students or designers have either. We’ve done adventurous stuff before, but this is a different ballgame.”

Audience members are required to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.