Gathering no moss

It wasn’t much of a stretch for Peter Carver, director of The Diviners, to understand the motivations of one of the show’s main characters. Like C.C. Showers, the wandering preacher whose arrival in the small town of Zion, Ind. sets the play’s plot in motion, Carver has lately been doing some roving of his own. […]

Chicken soup for the skeptical

Kindness is going soft. Well-meaning makeover shows and that never-ending series of featherweight pop-psych books featuring “Chicken Soup for” all sorts of various souls — apparently baseball fans and gardeners require different recipes — have largely wrung the radicalism out of kindness. The sunny selflessness they preach, symbolized by gentle acts like underwriting a self-conscious […]

Fairer and tenderer ladies

After 15 years of tearing through the most demanding and magisterial chorale works in the classical repertory, the Asheville Symphony Chorus needed something slightly more complex than the twinkling natural notes of “Happy Birthday” to celebrate its anniversary. The chorus found it in Heritage Songs, a suite of American folk songs written by composer Stephen […]

Persistence of vision

Gala, the Russian-born muse who beguiled Salvador Dali, had a knack for cultivating feisty love triangles: Before dallying with Dali and Spanish writer Frederico Garcia Lorca, she spent three years in an intimate marriage-a-trois with French poet Paul Eluard and German painter Max Ernst. Gala had “the libido of an electric eel,” wrote one of […]

Comedic carpet bagging

If even Hoosiers are impersonating hillbillies … you might just be in the midst of a redneck comedy craze. Blue collar is suddenly big money on the stand-up circuit, with Jeff Foxworthy’s all-star team of Wal-Mart jesters generating more than $85 million in sales and rentals of their straight-to-DVD feature Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides […]

Another brick in the bank

Stalking the halls of conservatories everywhere, there are purist professors who insist music should never be combined with any other activity — Mozart didn’t craft his piano concertos to serve as the backdrop for candlelit dinners of spaghetti marinara, for heaven’s sake — or with art. Their protestations notwithstanding, there’s a long tradition of musicians […]

And on the seventh day-o, God created musicals

If the creative team at Flat Rock Playhouse hesitated before launching a full-scale production of Children of Eden, the song-and-dance bonanza that opens July 27, it was only because mere mention of the musical’s name wouldn’t send the average theatergoer barreling through its medley. Compared to the sing-along favorites of past seasons, Children of Eden […]

My Folkmoot is your Folkmoot

Folkmoot USA, the two-week festival which unfurls across Western North Carolina every summer, has emerged as one of the world’s premier showplaces of folk music and dance. Just ask anyone. But make sure you’re armed with a good long-distance calling plan: Many of Folkmoot’s biggest boosters live far from the festival’s Waynesville headquarters. While Folkmoot […]

Hurts so good

Even if adults aren’t entitled to summer vacation, movie producers and book publishers do their best not to tax overheated intellects from June to August, instead churning out blockbusters and bestsellers intended to entertain, rather than — heaven forbid — educate consumers who still associate the season with “no more reading, no more books.” Theater […]

New tale to tell

Take two: Stephen Walkingstick (not shown) will assume the lead role of Tsali in Unto These Hills. Walkingstick’s audition earlier this spring was met with a standing ovation. Unto These Hills, you will again generate enviable ticket revenue! Unto These Hills, you will attain new heights of historical accuracy! Sound strange? To James Bradley’s ears, […]

More ado for your money

photo by Candice Caldwell Show and tell: Expect a bigger dose of the Bard. It was perhaps a tad hyperbolic for director Kenneth Branagh to title his 1993 film adaptation Much Ado About Nothing. With a runtime of just under two hours, Branagh’s version of Shakespeare’s most accessible play featured barely half the ado the […]

Fill in the blanks

Even the best of friends can feel their relationship strain when faced with the big, discomforting things in life: Deception. Betrayal. A blank white canvas. Yasmina Reza’s play Art, now being staged by North Carolina Stage Company, tells the story of three men whose friendship almost disintegrates after one of them splurges on a massive […]

Not just good at heart

Beginning writers are constantly being reminded that the soul of their craft lies in the second draft (or as the admonition is usually firmly worded: “revise, revise, revise”). But Anne Frank — who died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp weeks before liberation — never had the luxury of revisiting her text, leaving generations of readers […]