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Ensemble Stage Announces 2020 Performance Schedule Including World Premiere Play in August


By Nathan Ham

Ensemble Stage will offer four productions and two other special events this summer, beginning on June 5 with the season-opening drama entitled “Tiny Island.”

“We’re excited about our plays. It’s a long process picking the shows, we probably read through between 80 and 150 plays to pick our plays for the season. We’ve got a good mix of shows,” said Gary Smith, the artistic director for Ensemble Stage.

The most exciting performance scheduled for the year is a world premiere showing of “Zaglada” written by Richard Vetere.

“The last play of the summer season was one we just happened to come across at the Southeast Theatre Conference this past weekend. We were still trying to find something that would really fit in that fourth slot,” said Smith. “It was only published last year and we’ll be that play’s world premiere so it’s really cool.”

Smith said that it’s rare for a theater the size of Ensemble Stage to be the home of a world premiere because “usually world premieres happen where playwrights have been working with a select theater and it’s usually a two or three-year process.”

“We didn’t even realize it was a world premiere. I had looked online trying to find reviews and couldn’t find anything,” said Smith.

The folks at Ensemble Stage at also excited for the production of “Beer for Breakfast,” a play that Gary says they have wanted to do for a while. 

“We haven’t been able to wrangle the right cast for it but we are able to get the right cast this year. ‘Beer for Breakfast’ has long been on our board to do and finally we get a chance to do it,” said Smith. 

Tickets are now on sale for past season ticket holders and donors and then ticket sales will be open up to people who want to buy new season tickets after that. Individual show tickets will go on sale April 10.

“We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a fun and busy season,” said Smith.

In addition to the four on-stage play productions, there will be a special benefit cabaret concert that is a tribute to four icons of Broadway, Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand. The show will feature songs, trivia fun and anecdotes from performer Laura Hodos.

Ensemble Stage is a 99-seat professional theater that has presented over 100 productions and sold over 25,000 show tickets. All shows are presented in the Historic Banner Elk School.

Season tickets are $84 for adults and $77 for seniors, students and military service members. 

Summer Theatre Camp Registration Underway

The annual Summer Theatre Camp has officially opened registration for this summer. Children will learn theatre basics, including developing and writing their own play; designing, building, and painting their own set; finding and creating their own props and costumes, and performing a play, that they have written, at the end of camp! Campers will learn acting techniques that will not only help in their performance, but in their everyday lives. Campers will also learn improvisation, how to audition/interview, how to deliver a monologue/speech, and how to perform for an audience. The final performance of their original play will be on Friday, July 17th at 1:30 pm.

About the 2020 Shows

Tiny Island

By Michael Hollinger

June 5 – June 13

This delightful, charmingly funny and bittersweet play introduces us to two sisters who, as little girls, created worlds of happiness and wonder, inspired by the countless movies they watched from the tiny projection booth of their family-owned cinema. However, in their teens one sister betrayed the other and their relationship was never the same. Now, in middle-age, one has returned to the fading movie palace where her estranged sister screens old films for a dwindling audience hoping they can reconnect and become family once again. A poignant, powerful play about the limits of love and the limitless magic of the movies.

The Fisherman and His Wife

By Larry & Vivian Snipes

June 20, July 11, July 18, August 3 (Saturday Kids Theater Series)

Remember the tale of the fisherman who catches an enchanted fish and uses his three wishes to try to bring happiness to his wife? This delightful adaptation taps into the magic of audience participation. Here kids in the audience become scenery, sound effects, and even walk-on parts. As the fish grants the fisherman’s wife’s spiraling wishes, the audience creates sea and storms, goes fishing, and becomes chickens and ducks in the farmyard. A creel full of fun for the whole family.

Catch the Butcher

By Adam Seidel

June 26 – July 3

To keep from giving away too much about this suspense thriller, I’ll describe it in rather broad terms.  If you were to combine the TV show ‘Dexter’ with the movie ‘Hostel,’  add a touch of ‘Forensic Files,’ a dash of ‘Stepford Wives’ and just a pinch of ‘Mad About You,’ then mixed it all together, you’d have this quirky, unsettling and rewarding play.  It’s effective blend of romance, satire and dread makes this creepy macabre love story a play you won’t soon forget.

Julie and Mary and Ethel and Babs!

July 11, July 17 (A special benefit cabaret concert)

All it takes is a song to bring back a thousand memories. This show is a tribute to four icons of Broadway, Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand. It features songs that you know, and some that you don’t- along with anecdotes and fun trivia tidbits. Laura Hodos has such an infectious personality and charm that, by the time show is over, you’ll swear the two of you have been best of friends for years and years. Not to mention, her voice is like melted butter. It oozes from her effortlessly and is full of rich, decadent goodness. 

Beer for Breakfast

By Sean Greenan

July 24 – August 1

Four middle-aged buddies reunite for a “guys’ weekend” — complete with old music and cheap beer. These guys are out to prove they’ve still got it, so they are going to party like it’s 1979! It’s all going well until one of them doesn’t show up…but his wife does. Snowed in overnight, an epic struggles ensues: will man be judged the superior sex or will woman prevail?  And perhaps most importantly, if Doritos are made of corn, why can’t they be considered a vegetable? 


By Richard Vetere

August 14 – August 22

Drama and history intersect in this powerful story that is textured  full of hidden secrets.  Some you would expect and others that will rattle you to the core. A journalist and a highly trained Homeland Security officer join forces to prove a retired factory worker who has lived in Queens, NY since 1945, was a kapo for the Nazis in Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War II.  However, they are running out of time and living witnesses to get the proof they need to have him extradited back to Europe and tried as a war criminal.