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Ashe County Little Theatre to Present Four Shows in 2019

By Nathan Ham

Each year since 1972, the Ashe County Little Theatre has been a staple of the arts community in the county. The theatre presents three to four plays each year, and this year, the group is expecting to present four productions for your enjoyment.

“It’s a wonderful line up with some really diverse offerings,” said Jane Lonon, Executive Director of the Ashe County Arts Council.

All shows will be presented at the Ashe Civic Center in West Jefferson.

The season will begin with the production of “Is He Dead” from March 29-31. Next up will be the summer performance of the Braodway musical “Gypsy” from June 20-24. The third show of the year is set for August 22-25 and will be the production of “Calendar Girls.” The final show of the 2019 Ashe County Little Theatre season will be “Who’s On First” presented October 13-15.

With the productions of these four shows, the Ashe County Little Theatre is always looking for volunteer help with production, lighting, set designs, costumes, publicity and other areas. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information on the shows, please call the Ashe County Arts Council at 336-846-2787.

Below is a brief synopsis of each production that will be presented this year by the Ashe County Little Theatre

“Is He Dead?” will be the first production March 29-31.  Written by Mark Twain in 1898, it was first published in print in 2003, after Mark Twain scholar Shelley Fisher Fishkin read the manuscript in the archives of the Mark Twain Papers. The play was adapted by David Ives. “Is He Dead?” premiered on Broadway in 2007. With classic Twain humor, the play follows Jean-Francois Millet, a young painter of genius, in love with Marie Leroux, but in debt to the villainous picture-dealer, Bastien Andre. Andre foreclosures on Millet, threatening debtor’s prison unless Marie marries him. Millet realizes that the only way he can pay his debts and keep Marie from marrying Andre is to die, as it is only dead painters who achieve fame and fortune. Millet fakes his death and prospers, all while passing himself off as his own sister, the Widow Tillou. Now a rich “widow”, he must find a way to get out of a dress, return to life and marry Marie. The production is in rehearsals and is being directed by Ben Thomas-Reid and produced by Rebecca Williams.

The summer musical June 20-24 will be the Broadway musical “Gypsy”. The musical features music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and is loosely based on the memoirs of famous striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee. The story focuses on the relationship between Rose the mother of Louise who became Gypsy Rose Lee and her sister, Baby June who went on to be an actress. The show has appeared on Broadway no less than 5 times and featured many famous actresses, Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daley, Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler and more! The musical features songs that have since become show standards, “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, “Some People”, “Let Me Entertain You” and of course “Rose’s Turn” are all highlights of any production. The ACLT production will be directed by Joe Clark, with musical director Anthony Benson, and produced by Michael Malloy. Auditions will be Tuesday, April 9.

The third production will be “Calendar Girls” August 22-25. Calendar Girls is based on the true story of eleven WI members who posed nude for a calendar to raise money for the Leukemia Research Fund. When Annie’s husband John dies of Leukemia, she and best friend Chris resolve to raise money for a new settee in the local hospital waiting room. They manage to persuade four fellow WI members to pose nude with them for an “alternative” calendar with a little help from a hospital porter and amateur photographer. The news of the women’s charitable venture spreads and soon the press descends on the small village of Knapeley. The calendar is a success but Chris and Annie’s friendship is put to the test. Directed by Kim Isler and produced by Michael Malloy. Auditions will be in July 2019.

The last production of the season will be “Who’s On First” on October13-15. Written by Jack Sharkey, this comedy features a husband, wife, lover and friend, a strange lamp, a gun and a rubber chicken that are all doomed to live the same hour over and over again until they get it right. Four actors in four scenes race through this hilarious farce to an unexpected ending. Directed by Jim Williams, auditions will be in August 2019.