Playbill Picks: December local theater highlights

HOLIDAY CHEER: Xpress takes a look at upcoming local theater productions. 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.

Ask (Jeeves) and ye shall receive

Few local theater offerings can compete with the comedic whimsy of North Carolina Stage Company’s Jeeves plays. Based on the writings of P.G. Wodehouse and adapted by Margaret Raether, these productions bring together some of the area’s top talent in the name of high-quality British humor and leave audiences wholly satisfied.

The latest installment, Jeeves Takes a Bow, opened Nov. 24 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 17. It concerns bumbling hero Bertie Wooster (Scott Treadway) with his trusty valet Jeeves (Peter Thomasson) in New York City, where they get mixed up with gangsters, chorus girls and a brand-new Broadway musical.

“It has always been fun for me to work on these funny plays — full of wordplay and hijinks — in the darkest months of the winter,” says director Angie Flynn-McIver. “The familiar rhythms of these stories and characters take on the role of comfort food: Bertie and Jeeves are the mac and cheese of the theatrical buffet. The wonderful thing about comfort food is that you know just what you’re getting, and the Jeeves stories are ones I return to over and over, like my favorite recipes.”

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Countdown o’clock

With 2024 somehow right around the corner, The Magnetic Theatre takes a fresh look at the dawning of a new 12 months with New Queer’s Eve, which runs Friday, Dec. 1-Saturday, Dec. 16.

Set in an ever-changing gay bar across four decades, the show presents a slice of queer life on a holiday famous for big celebrations and high drama. Lead playwright Jason Phillips and fellow writers Abby Auman, Eli Hamilton and Mickey Poandl bring their own distinct takes on New Year’s Eve, linking them into an intimate and comedic story touching on love, loss, coming out and friendship — plus a dash of dark magic.

“When I started thinking about what I wanted this project to be, I realized I was not setting out to represent queer stories in a big, general way but wanted to bring together a set of writers with different life experiences who had specific stories to tell,” Phillips says. “I wanted to explore different time periods and how celebrating during the holidays can be different for the LGBTQ+ community.”

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Run it back

This time last year, Asheville Community Theatre made history when Elf: The Musical became the company’s first show to sell out its entire run before opening night. To help spread the show’s charming brand of holiday cheer, the stage adaption of the 2003 film Elf, starring Will Ferrell as a human raised by elves, returns Friday, Dec. 1-Saturday, Dec. 23.

“We’re excited to bring back Elf: The Musical with fresh direction and staging by Mark Jones, clever and surprising costumes, a mostly new cast and Carson Fox returning as the beloved Buddy the Elf,” says Eli Cunningham, ACT’s marketing director. “This production reaffirms our dedication to delivering enriching community experiences, and we love celebrating the holiday season with our friends, family and neighbors in Asheville.”

For more information, visit

Half-century hootenanny

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre’s annual Christmas show returns Thursday, Dec. 7-Saturday, Dec. 9, at Owen Theatre on the Mars Hill University campus.

This year’s edition, Christmas Time’s A Comin’: An Appalachian Christmas Revue, features bluegrass-style holiday standards performed by favorites of the SART stage alongside a live band. And as a way of expressing gratitude for 50 years of community support, SART is offering pay-what-you-wish tickets.

“We believe that live theatre is a transformative experience that should be accessible to everyone,” says William Tyler Ezzell, SART’s managing artistic director, in a press release. “It’s our way of giving back to the community and ensuring that everyone can experience the magic of the holiday season.”

For more information, visit


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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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