Outstanding local theater

ENCORE!: Hendersonville Community Theatre's production of 'Love, Loss, and What I Wore' was one of 2018's most outstanding local plays. Photo by Daniel Dyer

As this year comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on some truly extraordinary theater, ranging from splashy musicals to moving dramas and locally written plays.

Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Hendersonville Community Theatre: In this intimate production about a group of women who relate significant memories in life to their wardrobes, Beth Norris rose to the forefront of the well-directed ensemble to give one of the year’s best performances.

Mamma Mia! by Flat Rock Playhouse: This fun, ABBA-influenced musical was a runaway smash and set a milestone for Flat Rock Playhouse.

Other Desert Cities by N.C. Stage Company: The searing portrait of a well-to-do but dysfunctional family who risked having their secrets exposed by their daughter’s new novel was easily one of the most memorable productions of the year.

Stripped at The Magnetic Theatre: The production about a group of nudists caged up and interrogated for their free-spirited behavior in a public park was a raw and compelling standout at the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival.

Ghost the Musical by HART Theatre: This emotionally effective musical from the hit 1990 film (in which the spirit of a murdered man sought the help of a con artist-turned-medium) overcame a few missteps due to a passionate performance by Miles Rice and a dedicated entourage.

• Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood by Montford Park Players: The locally penned rendition of the classic action-romance proved to be a crowd pleaser, drawing large audiences to the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater.

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About Kai Elijah Hamilton
Kai Elijah Hamilton was born and raised in Western North Carolina. A poet, screenwriter and playwright, he is also a published film and theater critic. Hamilton is a creative individual with a wide range of talents and interests. He is an Award Winning Actor (Tom in "The Glass Menagerie") and Director ("A Raisin In The Sun"). He previously served as Artistic Director at Hendersonville Little Theatre and has a B.A. in theater and film from Western Carolina University. In 2016, Hamilton's play "The Sleepwalker" won a spot in the first annual Asheville National 10-Minute Play Festival by NYS3. His play "Blackberry Winter" was a finalist in the elite Strawberry One-Act Festival in NYC winning Best Short Film/Video Diary. Hamilton is also the author of the full-length southern-gothic play "Dry Weather Wind" which has been called "Important. Relevant to the issues in today's time, and beautifully written..."

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3 thoughts on “Outstanding local theater

  1. Christopher Martin

    You left out some other amazing productions like Frost/Nixon at NC Stage and ACT productions.

  2. Jason Williams

    If I may add to Kai’s list of outstanding productions that I saw this past year:

    Avenue Q by Asheville Community Theatre: This was probably the show I had the most fun at all season. I thought every element of this production worked: from the very talented actors, to the design, all the way down to the smooth transitions. Excellently cast and directed by Jeff Catanese.

    Eleemosynary by Different Strokes PAC: An uplifting journey through family dysfunction and forgiveness. Director Kristi DeVille gets three standout performances from Janet Oliver, Jessica Law, and Amanda Shive.

    Every Brilliant Thing by Different Strokes PAC: A woefully under seen piece that toed the line between improv and scripted theater. It was about a man dealing with his mother’s suicide, and battling his own depression. Mondy Carter’s inspired and nearly aerobic performance left you feeling a little better about the world when you left the theater.

    Frost/Nixon By NC Stage: A timely production, with solid performances all around, that almost made you feel bad for Richard Nixon. Also some very well executed technical designs.

    Mass Appeal by Attic Salt: A humourous and heartfelt examination of Catholicism and how it needs to change for the future. Written in 1980, it is still very relevant today. David Mycoff and Patrick Brandt gave excellent performances as a Father, and an aspiring priest.

    The Man In The Bright Nightgown by Occasional Theater: An excellently written portrait of a man coping with the loss of his father. It was at times comedic, toughing, and heart-breaking, and anchored by a outstanding performance by Michael Lilly.

    The Mercy Seat by Ellipsis Theatre : Neil LaBute’s plays are not for everybody, but it can’t be denied that they have a realness and a rawness to them that actors and directors love. Jamie Knox and Badi Mirheli under the direction of Jeff Messer, expertly captured that feeling of shock, anger and resentment that was stirred up by the events of Sept 11th 2001.

    Skylight by Rarely Theatre: Wonderfully real theater with a powerful performances by all, but especially by Trinity Smith. She cooked spaghetti while on stage, and had you completely mesmerized.

    Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends (A Final Evening with the Illuminati) by The Magnetic Theatre: This was a last minute substitution in the Magnetic’s season last summer. It was another woefully under seen show. Written by Larry Larson and Levi Lee in 1986, it was not the common new/local driven play that the Magnetic produces, but it was every bit as irreverent. Scott Fisher and Darren Marshall had great comedic chemistry in this sharp satire of religion and paranoia.

    Talking With By Attic Salt: A night of monologues by some of the best female actors in Asheville. They were all powerful, moving, and excellently performed, but Hallee Hirsh-Martin’s snake charmer, and Christy Montesdeoca tattoo monologues were awe-inspiring.

    Apologies to any productions that felt left out; I admit, there were a lot of productions I didn’t get the chance to see this year.

  3. Theatre Lover

    Can your excellent reviewer Jeff Messer add some of his favorites?

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