Culture watch

From The Belly Of The Beast

He may be a two-time Tony nominee, a former member of the cast of Cats (Rum Tum Tugger, in fact), and an Emmy nominee for his work on As the World Turns, but the thing most of Terrence Mann’s future students will probably never let him live down is playing opposite talking dishware. Sure, he might have originated the role of the hulking, singing monster-with-a-heart-of-gold in Disney’s Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast, but try slipping that past a bunch of college kids. Mann will have to cope with the behind-the-back teasing, however, because he’s recently accepted the Phillips Distinguished Professor in Musical Theatre post at Western Carolina University. Still, he’s a good person to give pointers to WCU students who want to make a name for themselves in regional theater — he’s been an artistic director for the North Carolina Theatre, the Carolina Arts Festival, and long-running outdoor drama The Lost Colony. Then again, he was also in the post-apocalyptic roller skating flick Solar Babies, which (on the artistic scale) almost brings his career credibility back to nil.

Finally, Something Even Lamer Than The A.V. Club

While it may pale beside adding “the Beast” to your teaching staff, it is worth noting that TC Roberson High School recently launched their new theater department. The new program appears to be Roberson’s attempt to cash in on the grants and other monetary goodies that are theorized to flood the area when the still-unrealized WNC “multimedia infrastructure” finally winks into existence. The program aims to prepare students for a career in the arts world, although there’s nothing in the press release about classes in waiting tables or brewing coffee. Bright Star Children’s Theater cofounder Karri Ostergaard will lead the new department, which will launch its new season with Neil Simon’s Rumors on Thursday, Oct. 19. For more information, call 654-1765.

There’s No Way This Won’t Be Mistaken For Favoritism

The word on the street is that former Xpress contributor Jerry Pope will be publishing his first book for kids at the end of this month. (Xpress regularly ran his Pope’s Nose and The Asheville Kid comics a few years back.) Madeline Claire and the Dinosaur will be published by Brave Ulysses (the publishing house run by Xpress staffer Cecil Bothwell, with whom — in the spirit of full disclosure — I’m obliged to say I work) later this month. Learn more at www.braveulysses.com.

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