Around Town: Asheville Junior Theater launches with ‘Matilda the Musical Jr.’

CHILD’S PLAY: Asheville Junior Theater, which started in March, will present its first performances on Saturday, June 11. Photo courtesy of Asheville Junior Theater

When a group of Asheville parents became concerned the area didn’t offer enough opportunities for children to participate in live theater, especially during the past two years of COVID-19 restrictions, they decided to do something about it.

The result is Asheville Junior Theater, which launched in March. The troupe stages its first production, Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical Jr., at 2 and 6 p.m., Saturday, June 11, at T.C. Roberson High School.

“Since beginning rehearsals, many of us have seen a huge transformation in our kids,” says Carla Delangre, one of the organizers of AJT. “So many kids these days are addicted to screens, and since the pandemic, we saw them sink into this world of everything virtual even more. Once the kids auditioned and saw our vision, many of them stopped even asking for screen time, and all they want to do is practice and be with their new friends.”

The show, which features a cast of 28, is produced and directed by Kelly Haas, who also is in charge of costumes, sets and props. Jessica Damon serves as choreographer, while Alecia English is musical director, and Doug Wert works with the actors.

Directly following each show will be a guest performance by singer-songwriter and Broadway performer Carrie Manolakos, who has appeared in Mama Mia!Wicked and more. Manolakos is friends with Erin Roberts, who serves as choreographer for the troupe’s younger children.

“These kids have been working long hours and are so passionate about this musical,” Delangre says. “It’s like we have seen the spark in them come back to life since the pandemic dimmed it.”

T.C. Roberson High School is at 250 Overlook Road. To buy tickets, go to For more information about AJT, visit

Sound and vision

Asheville filmmaker Simon Bonneau calls it kismet that he and a group of local actors and crew members ended up making a music video for cellist Brianna Tam.

When participating in the annual 48 Hour Film Project competition last summer, Bonneau decided to use licensed music from a website for his movie and discovered Tam’s song “Intrepid.”

“I shared our film with some friends, who looked up the track and found out that Brianna was located in Greensboro,” he says. “This website features music and artists from all over the world, so we were surprised that we unknowingly picked a North Carolina musician.”

Bonneau shared the film with Tam, who responded by asking him to work with her on a music video.

With a crew of four and a cast of 10, Bonneau shot the video in October on two private properties in Hendersonville and around the Buck Spring Gap overlook and Mount Pisgah trailhead.

“We had a lot of fun experimenting with the mysterious hands [featured in the video] and frolicking around the forest,” he says. “Brianna would tell you that she almost froze to death shooting that sunrise sequence at Mount Pisgah, but it was all worth it when she saw the end result.”

Watch the video at

Which one’s Pink?

Asheville Guitar Bar is launching Music to Your Ears, a monthly discussion series. Led by local music writer and Xpress contributor Bill Kopp, the inaugural event looks at Pink Floyd’s 1972 album Obscured by Clouds.

“It’s the little-known precursor to The Dark Side of the Moon, one of the most popular albums in the history of recorded music,” Kopp says. “It showcases many of the same musical strengths as its better-known follow-up.”

The inaugural event takes place Wednesday, June 1, 7-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Asheville Guitar Bar is at 122 Riverside Drive, Suite D. For more information, go to

Barn aid

The Appalachian Barn Alliance will host the benefit art gala A Pastoral Palette on Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4, at Echoview Fiber Mill, 76 Jupiter Road, Weaverville. The alliance partners with The Saints of Paint for the gala.

The Friday event, 5-8 p.m., is ticketed and will feature works by 12 Asheville-area artists, as well as food donated by local restaurants, including Fig Bistro and HomeGrown in Asheville, and The Sweet Monkey in Marshall.

The gala continues Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with a free event where the public will have a chance to purchase the artists’ works.

Money raised benefits the work of the Appalachian Barn Alliance in preserving the agricultural heritage of the Southern Appalachians via its historic barns.

For more information or to buy tickets, go to

Enter Sandman

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center will present Jo Sandman / TRACES, an exhibition of works by an artist who was galvanized by a summer studying at Black Mountain College in 1951. The exhibit runs Friday, June 3-Saturday, Sept. 3.

An opening reception will be Friday, June 3, 5:30-8 p.m. It will feature a talk by Katherine French, curator of the Sandman Legacy Project.

After her time at BMC, Sandman developed a Boston-area studio exploring painting, drawing, experimental sculpture, installation and photography. The studio operated for more than 60 years. “Her restless curiosity always led the way toward experimentation with a wide variety of imagery, materials and processes,” according to a press release from the arts center.

BMCM+AC is at 120 College St. and is open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to

Pop-up craft fair

The Southern Highland Craft Guild will host a Pop-up Mini Fair in the lower-level parking lot of the Folk Art Center on Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The fair will feature 20 booths with a variety of media crafted by members of the guild. Disciplines represented will include stained glass, wheel-thrown and hand-built ceramics, woodcarving, screenprinted and sewn textiles, basketry and metal smithing.

The Folk Art Center is at Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in East Asheville. Admission is free. For more information, go to

All rise

The Canopy Gallery at Art Garden AVL will present RISE, a solo exhibit of original works by Carolina Lebar. An opening reception takes place Saturday, June 4, 4-7 p.m., and the show runs through Sunday, July 31.

Lebar, originally from Colombia, works in graphite, watercolor and oil.

“My work begins with pencil, creating fine, beautiful details,” she says. “Then with delicate layers of graphite and occasionally paint, I finalize my art. Using pencil and paint, I explore tying the past to the present with gatherings of feather, fur, fins, symbolism and feminine beauty.”

Canopy Gallery at Art Garden AVL is at 191 Lyman St., Suite 316. Hours are Thursday-Monday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to

Independence day

Asheville Zine Fest returns with an in-person event at RAMP Studios on Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

The festival will feature more than 30 independent publishers, small-press representatives and creators of zines, comics, book art, chapbooks, anthologies, pamphlets and other ephemera. Also on the schedule are a zine and authors reading, a zine library and reading room, and zine-making workshops.

All events are free and open to the public.

RAMP Studios is at 821 Riverside Drive. For more information, go to

Note: This story was updated on Wednesday, June 1.



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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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