Playbill picks: February local theater highlights

BACK AT IT: Sex, religion and history are among the issues explored in 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.

Good hair

Different Strokes Performing Arts Collective opens its 14th season with The Glorious World of Crowns, Kinks and Curls, which runs Thursday, Feb. 1-Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Tina McGuire Theatre.

Written by Keli Goff, directed by Different Strokes’ managing artistic director, Stephanie Hickling Beckman, and starring Naimah Coleman, Kirby Gibson and Zakiya Bell-Rogers, the production honors the loveliness and variety of Black women’s hair and the memorable, moving stories that accompany it.

“This show is a celebration of self-expression, empowerment and the unique beauty of natural hair,” says Hickling Beckman in a press release. “Through the powerful performances of these outstanding actors, audiences will be taken on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. It is my hope that it will resonate with audiences from all walks of life.”

For more information, visit

Real talk

A perennial favorite on stages across the U.S., The Vagina Monologues opens Thursday, Feb. 1, at Hendersonville Theatre and runs through Sunday, Feb. 11. Director Ellen Pappas describes the vignettes and monologues by V (formerly Eve Ensler) as a work that takes attendees “on a journey into the world of the feminine” where “pain, laughter, hurts, struggles, surprises and love” are explored.

“All monologues are based on/taken from interviews with women from a wide range of backgrounds. Some are poignant, funny and painful — but all are real,” says Natalie Broadway, who plays Woman No. 1. “[It’s] unlike any show I’ve been involved with, and to be bringing it to the stage with a group of such strong women will be an experience that I will never forget.”

In her role as Woman No. 3, CC Blackburn represents three individuals: an octogenarian who long ago gave up on intimacy; a woman dealing with her sexuality in an unusual way; and a grandmother defining the wonder of life.

“For those of us raised in the ’50s and ’60s, any discussion involving sex was taboo. Then, the ‘sexual revolution’ took hold, leaving many of us dazed and confused,” Blackburn recalls. “This performance is an honest retelling of women’s sexuality from several vantage points — an important piece for women and the men who love them.”

Jennifer Russ, who plays Woman No. 2, notes that one of her monologues is from a woman fed up with so-called “feminine” products and procedures that seem to have been developed by people who know nothing about what it’s like to be a woman.

“From tampons and sprays to the coldness of the annual exams — I mean, who thought those up?” she wonders. “Women have a part of the body that is unique. The uses of and feelings about the vagina are not often talked about with spouses and children; [it’s] ]mostly [discussed] with friends, in hushed tones. Our audiences will have the opportunity to consider their own desires, assumptions, taboos and past experiences while listening to the stories of women who have opened up about their innermost secrets — secret shame or secret pride alike.”

Russ continues, “Hopefully our show sparks conversations, laughter, thoughtful considerations and maybe even a new appreciation for what makes women unique and proud of it.”

For more information, visit

Lordy, lordy

Just shy of a year after playing George Burns, who famously played the title character in the 1977 film, Oh, God!, local actor Pasquale LaCorte gets his own shot at playing the almighty in David Javerbaum’s An Act of God. The show runs Friday, Feb. 2-Sunday, Feb. 11, at Haywood Arts Regional Theater in Waynesville and finds God discussing the mysteries of life with archangels Gabriel (David Spivey) and Micheal (Tom Bastek), as well as introducing a new set of commandments.

“When I look for a show, I want one that makes you laugh, cry and think,” LaCorte says. “In my opinion, this is a perfect show. It’s a laugh a minute; but if you truly come with an open mind, it has the ability to change you for life.”

Candice Dickinson, artistic director at HART and the show’s director, is likewise hopeful that the material will challenge attendees while also winning them over.

“I mean, it’s a satirical look at a Christian god and is such a smart, well-written comedy,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to seeing the response we get.”

For more information, visit

O’Shea S.O.S.

Religion is also at the heart of Incident at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which runs Friday, Feb. 2-Sunday, Feb. 25 at N.C. Stage Company.

Set in 1973, the comedy follows what happens after a conversation about sex between two sisters is overheard by their parish priest.

Written by Katie Forgette and directed by Charlie Flynn-McIver, the cast includes Dax Dupuy, Kyra Hewitt, Heather Michele Lawler, Susan Stein and Scott Treadway.

“Audiences are going to love this fast-paced, funny memory play,” says Maria Buchanan, N.C. Stage’s audience relations manager. “Every character is spot on and feels so familiar. It’s like ‘The Wonder Years’ meets ‘All in the Family’ meets ‘Derry Girls’ — without the accents.”

For more information, visit


Next up at Asheville Community Theatre is the drama Flyin’ West, on stage Friday, Feb. 9-Sunday, Feb. 25.

Set in 1890s Nicodemus, Kan., one of the many all-Black towns established in the American West following the Civil War, Pearl Cleage’s play is told by four African-American women who exhibit resilience and seek better lives amid the harsh realities of the rural Midwest and the societal constraints of the times.

“This is a play about sisterhood, women coming together, holding each other in the light and caring for one another,” says Janet Oliver, who plays Miss Leah. “It’s also a celebration of the Exodusters who formed new towns on the western frontier.”

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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