Around town: Former Kilwin’s owner debuts ‘At the Cafe’

COFFEE TALK: The new musical "At the Café," written by Ashevillean Marcy Gallagher, will premier at The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, Aug. 18. Photo courtesy of Gallagher

Asheville resident Marcy Gallagher was not a playwright, but after seeing the movie “The Greatest Showman” in 2019, she told her husband she wanted to write a musical.

On Friday, Aug. 18 at 7 p.m., Gallagher’s dream will become reality as “At the Café” debuts at The Wortham Center for Performing Arts.

Both Gallagher and her husband, Tom, who owned Kilwins Chocolates, Fudge & Ice Cream Asheville from 2008-2020, have writing experience — during the pandemic, they wrote personalized romance novels for

But Marcy Gallagher had a different subject in mind for the musical: the stories of four middle-aged women. At 67 years old, she says she wanted to counter the stigma of being an older woman in a youth-oriented society.

She wrote the lyrics out as poetry and was confident she would find a songwriter in Asheville to do the score. She says serendipity and mutual friend Blaine Greenfield connected her with Sarah Kohrs of the local musical duo Tumo Kohrs. Two weeks later, Kohrs asked Gallagher to a meeting. “I was nervous,” says Gallagher. “Would she give the script back and say, ‘No thanks’? Instead, she brought out a laptop and handed me a pair of headphones. I listened to the melodies she had written for the first two songs. … I was so excited I felt like jumping up and down.”

The show, which runs for two weekends, will feature 13 original songs and six local actors. Gallagher, a breast cancer survivor, chose to donate a portion of ticket sales to Hope Chest for Women, a local nonprofit that provides financial assistance to Western North Carolina women with breast or gynecological cancer.

Although Gallagher co-owned Kilwins for over 10 years, none of the inspiration for the play came from those experiences. She says one of the main goals for writing it was to bring joy to people and to make them laugh. “There’s a positive message in the story, and it was important to me to bring that message to the audience.

“I believe that in middle age and beyond, women and men have so many rich experiences to draw upon to pursue their dreams or begin new adventures. … We older folks can tap into those experiences and have the self-assurance to try something new. We have nothing to lose by igniting our passions at this age.”

The Wortham Center for the Performing Arts is at 18 Biltmore Ave. For more information, visit

A dating game

Blind Date Live — a real-time, in-person dating show — will take place at The Grey Eagle on Friday, Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. Attendees are invited to a pre-show mixer at 7 p.m., “during which people can mix, mingle, make connections and potentially meet someone special,” says creator Cayla Clark, who is co-producing the show with Double Dip Productions, a local production company composed of George Awad and Paul Dixon. A post-show dance party will feature tunes by DJ Lil Meow Meow.

At 8 p.m., three couples will go on a real first blind date. Blindfolded participants will be guided onstage to either side of a partition. Once seated, they’ll remove the blindfolds. Co-hosts Clark and Donnie Rex Bishop will prompt conversation from “menus” that feature a range of questions broken into three categories — appetizers, mains and desserts — mingled with audience questions collected prior to the show. At the end of the “meal,” contestants will have the option of passing or going on a second date — which is then paid for by Blind Date Live. Several local restaurants and ice cream and coffee shops have donated gift cards for this purpose.

Clark says she developed the event from personal experience. “I’m a single woman in recovery, celebrating one year sober Aug. 14, who is entirely sick of dating apps,” she says. “Hitting the bars lost its luster, and I found that a lot of the social events in town geared toward developing new connections also revolved around drinking. I figured there might be a need for a fun alternative.”

The show debuted on May 20 at Story Parlor and was so popular that, after the first two shows, Clark decided to move it to a larger venue.

Clark, who considers herself a natural matchmaker, personally chooses participants weeks in advance. “I’ve got a little yenta in my blood for sure,” she says. “I speak with potential applicants and work on finding them a match who has similar interests, similar life goals and a similar vibe overall. I trust my gut instinct, which has been pretty effective so far. Several of the couples from our first show are still seeing each other.”

Additional shows are slated at The Grey Eagle for Tuesday, Sept. 26, and Monday, Oct. 23.

The Grey Eagle is at 185 Clingman Ave. For more information, visit

One person’s trash …

Harvest Ganong‘s environmentally focused “trash art” will be on display at River Arts District wine bar Bottle Riot this month through Thursday, Oct. 12. The artist uses nonrecyclable and single-use plastics to create detailed, three-dimensional collage portraits of her favorite musical artists.

Ganong, a graduate of Western Carolina University in welding and sculpture, was inspired to create art from trash when she noticed the amount of waste she produced as a mother of two children. “I found myself disposing of product packaging, household items and toys at an astounding rate,” she says in a press release. “I saw an opportunity to make an impact in my community and bring awareness to this global crisis through my creative outlet as an artist.”

Ten percent of sales will benefit RiverLink, a local nonprofit focused on conservation of the French Broad River and its watersheds.

Bottle Riot is at 37 Paynes Way. For more information, visit

Visit with artists

Over 30 artists will participate at 23 studios and art spaces in the 18th annual Come to Leicester Studio Tour on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 19-20, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Attendees will follow a self-guided route at their own leisure to visit artists showcasing a variety of mediums — including painting, iron work, woodwork, glass, textiles, pottery, jewelry and brooms.

The tour map, available online and in print at each stop, highlights places to recharge with refreshments along the route, including Grateful Roots Market & Deli, Gossett Grocery and Addison Farms Vineyard.

For more information, visit

Writing workshop

Misha Lazzara, local author of the novel Manmade Constellations, will hold “Write Your Values,” a free writing workshop for teens and adults, on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 3 p.m. at Firestorm Books.

The workshop, designed for writers of all levels, will focus on exploring personal values and learning how to incorporate them into writing to develop a story’s deeper meaning. The class is part of a current book tour in conjunction with the paperback launch of Lazzara’s novel.

Firestorm Books is at 1022 Haywood Road. For more information, visit


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About Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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