A&E Roundup: Holiday theater productions adapt for 2020

GEORGE BAILEY LASSOES COVID-19: Immediate Theatre Project's "Live From WVL Radio Theatre: It’s A Wonderful Life" show has shifted to a new live online version for 2020 that will be performed for a three-week run via Zoom. Clockwise from top left are cast members Willie Repoley, Lauren Kriel, Tony Larkin and Maria Buchanan. Photo courtesy of Immediate Theatre Project

Instead of presenting its Live From WVL Radio Theatre: It’s A Wonderful Life show in person, as it has each year since 2009, Immediate Theatre Project has created a new live online version for a three-week run via Zoom. Company co-founder Willie Repoley says he and costars Lauren Kriel, Tony Larkin and Maria Buchanan are “all playing versions of ourselves, and we’re put into an impossible situation, and the audience gets to see us and see how we are able to use It’s A Wonderful Life to get our own stories back on track.”

Repoley continues, “I think a story about a young man who becomes frustrated by circumstances largely outside of this control, who tries and tries to do the right thing but keeps falling short of his dreams, who is rescued from a deep despair only by prayer and the generosity of his community, is exactly what we need right now. It’s a very hopeful story. It asks us to believe in our neighbors and in what we can accomplish together that we can’t do alone.”

Unique performances take place Thursday, Dec. 3-Sunday, Dec. 20, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. The production is directed by Hans Meyer, and the stage manager is Jared Stover. Tickets are $25 per household. ncstage.org

Other area theater companies are also offering digital productions. A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas was filmed on the company’s grounds and in Hendersonville and “captures the spirit of the holidays like never before with dancing on Main Street, fireside singing, stunning performances on stage and a virtually connected chorus.” Online attendees select one day of viewing through Sunday, Dec. 20, during which the link will be active 10 a.m.-11:59 p.m. Tickets are $53. flatrockplayhouse.org

And Hendersonville Community Theatre has recorded A Christmas Carol Radio Play, in which a handful of actors bring dozens of characters to the stage, complete with live sound effects and musical underscoring from Anthony E. Palermo, who also adapted Charles Dickens’ novella for radio. The show is directed by Jonathan Forrester and available on demand for $15, Saturday, Dec. 5-Saturday, Jan. 2. hendersonvillecommunitytheatre.org

Winter wonderland

The N.C. Arboretum’s Winter Lights show has evolved into a drive-thru event for 2020, allowing guests to navigate a 1-mile stretch of the Arboretum’s campus to view exhibits illuminated by thousands of holiday lights. Offerings include several new nature-themed displays, including winter wildlife, colorful butterflies, a special insect lantern exhibit and a giant daisy “garden,” all cued to optional holiday tunes playing via simulcast and accessible through vehicle radio systems.

The show runs daily through Sunday, Jan. 10, 5:30-10:30 p.m., with incoming cars admitted no later than 10 p.m. Guests are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets online in advance to save on ticket fees and reserve space. Pre-sale admission is $25 per personal vehicle and $30 at the gate the night of the event. Discounts are available daily for Arboretum Society members and to the public every Tuesday (excluding Dec. 22). ncarboretum.org

Home shopping network

Nearing its one-year anniversary, Sand Hill Artists Collective has organized a Virtual Holiday Gallery Tours event. Each weekday, Dec. 2-15, 5-6 p.m., via Zoom, a different local gallery will present “unique programming highlighting their artists and offerings, as well as their backgrounds and collections that contribute to Asheville’s rich visual arts and crafts scene.” Participating galleries include Black Mountain College Museum, Blue Spiral 1, Center for Craft, LEAF Global, Momentum Gallery, Penland Gallery, Pink Dog Creative, River Arts District Artists, Southern Highland Craft Guild and Tracey Morgan Gallery. Tickets are $55 and include private access to the 10 Zoom webinar links. Proceeds support SHAC’s mission of displaying and promoting the work of artists, arts organizations and arts events in the West Asheville, Enka, Candler and Biltmore Lake area. sandhillartists.com

Quick takes

In honor of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the Western North Carolina AIDS Project debuted a collection of short films directed by Asheville-based documentarian Francine Cavanaugh. The featured film showcases the various aspects of WNCAP’s services, including HIV testing, case management, outreach, advocacy, PrEP services, harm reduction and food delivery. Six additional short films focus on a different notable individual who’s been affected by HIV, hepatitis C or substance use disorder.

“The goal of the WNCAP Mini Docs is to amplify the voices of people who are normally marginalized in our community,” says Michael Poandl, WNCAP development & communications coordinator. “By hearing directly from the people affected, our goal is to destigmatize HIV and harm reduction and to mobilize our community towards greater education and compassion.” avl.mx/8rq


The Texture of Myth debuts Friday, Dec. 4, at Foundation Studios, featuring sculpture by Cathleen Klibanoff, oil paintings by Robby Gall and photography from Micah Mackenzie. The free opening night event runs 6-8 p.m. and features live music by Pimps of Pompe. The exhibit will be on display through Monday, Jan. 4. Masks and social distancing are required. ashevilleartstudio.com

Meanwhile, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Greenville has launched its Minimum Space Requirements show, featuring art viewing boxes placed around Asheville. The small-scale installations, created by MaDora Frey, Steven Pestana, Sophia Sobers, Charles Sommer and Eric Tillinghast with the dimensions of the boxes in mind, center on “reflection, motion, boundaries — metaphors for our COVID-riddled experiences.” The boxes — viewable at 76 Gertrude Place, 135 Lookout Drive, 65 Kenilworth Road and 74 Tacoma Circle — have windows on three sides, which allow for a “direct visual interaction with the immediate environment” and enable works to transform with the changing light throughout the day. They will be on display through Friday, Jan. 1. tigerstrikesasteroid.com


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.