Playbill picks: April local theater highlights

APRIL POWERS: Springtime brings powerful performances to area stages. Photo by iStock

If you’re a fan of local theater, Western North Carolina offers plenty of options. Below are some highlights of productions hitting various stages across the region.

Hollywood tell-all!

I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers is the latest one-person show to grace area stages. It runs Friday, April 19-Sunday, April 28, at Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.

Directed by Julie Kinter, this production of Academy Award-nominated screenwriter John Logan’s play stars Lyn Donley as legendary talent agent Sue Mengers — a role originated by Bette Midler. Set in 1981 Beverly Hills, the show explores Mengers’ life, career and the tabloid-ready secrets of the celebrities she represented.

I’ll Eat You Last is all about the glamour, the gossip and the gritty truth behind the closed doors of showbiz,” says Candice Dickinson, HART’s artistic director. “Lyn Donley is sure to bring all the fire and captivating attitude of Sue Mengers to life on our stage. I can’t wait to share it with audiences.”

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Roald Dahl is having a moment — but did he ever truly stop having one? The acclaimed British author has enjoyed a recent revival on the big screen with the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory prequel, Wonka. Meanwhile, in March, Wes Anderson’s short film adaption of Dahl’s 1977 work, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, earned an Oscar.

That hot streak continues with Matilda: The Musical, which opens Friday, April 12, at Asheville Community Theatre and runs through Sunday, May 5. The Tony Award-winning story of self-discovery follows a psychokinetic young girl raised by shallow parents and instructed by a cruel school headmistress. Actors Ainsley McClure and Josephine Valentina Monastero share the top bill as Matilda, alternating nights.

“I am so honored to be bringing Matilda: The Musical to the ACT mainstage and highlighting the incredible wealth of local talent we’re so fortunate to have,” says Zoe Zelonky, the show’s director and choreographer. “This production is more than just a performance; it’s a heartfelt celebration of families coming together, creating art that resonates deeply with each of us. Matilda’s story is special to everybody involved, embodying the spirit of community and the transformative power of storytelling.”

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Marshall law

Over at N.C. Stage Company, the month closes out with another one-person show: Thurgood, which runs Friday, April 26-Sunday, May 19.

Written by George Stevens Jr. and starring Atlanta-based actor K.P. Powell as Thurgood Marshall, the production chronicles the iconic lawyer’s inspirational journey from spearheading Brown v. Board of Education to becoming the first African American appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Everyone can learn from hearing Justice Marshall’s story. His wisdom echoes forward as we deal with the trials and tribulations of today,” says director Philip Kershaw. “The history books we read in school can tend to flatten and simplify who some of these folks were in real life. I think our audience will have a great time getting to know Thurgood the person in this surprisingly funny play.“

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

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