Theater review: ‘King Mackerel’ at N.C. Stage

GONE FISHING: N.C. Stage Company's latest production is the musical comedy 'King Mackerel and the Blues are Running' staring, from left, Ben Mackel, Charlie Flynn-McIver and Joel P. Rogers. Photo by Nina Swann Photography

Before those summertime memories start slipping away, make a quick trip to the beach  — or to the musical comedy King Mackerel and the Blues are Running, on view at  N.C. Stage Company through Sunday, Oct. 8.

Director Neela Munoz does a fine  job with this heartfelt show, written by Bland Simpson and Jim Wann with Don Dixon and J.L Mills.  It hits home with anyone who has spent time at the beach, especially North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

You can almost feel the sun beating down and hear the waves crashing onshore. There’s nothing heavy here: The closest the play comes to high drama is when a hurricane blows the roof off the beloved Corncake Inlet Inn. A quartet of musicians perform a fundraiser to prevent the place from going to greedy developers. The boys crack wise and sing and tell stories of beach life. There are similarities here with the popular Pump Boys and Dinettes, which was also written by Wann: Both shows share a love of small-town life.

King Mackerel requires actors who play instruments and sing, while creating appealing characters. Munoz has a solid cast with Ben Mackel as the guitarist Chuck, Joel P. Rogers on keyboard as Reid and Charlie Flynn-Mciver (the N.C. Stage co-founder) on bass as Murphy. Sam Cobb is Cecil G., who keeps the beat going on drums, but has no spoken lines.

There’s not much plot here and none is really needed. The show  is carried by the songs and amusing stories (a fisherman’s unfortunate adventure, a borrowed car gets stuck in the sand, etc. ).

Rogers sets it all up with an introduction and directions to Corncake Inlet, which takes visitors on a long and twisting trip across the Tarheel State. The show is supported by a projection screen which is particularly effective when a storm blows in.

The songs range from toe-tapping (the title tune and “To Catch A King”) to amusing (“Joyride”) and sweet (“Georgia Rose”). The audience is pulled into the show by a game of bingo with the promised prize of a vacation at the Corncake Inlet Inn, once the roof is fixed.

What King Mackerel really delivers is a night of family-friendly humor that leaves viewers longing for an old-fashioned beach vacation — the sort that’s becoming more difficult to find, these days.

WHAT: King Mackerel and the Blues are Running
WHERE: N.C. Stage Company, 15 Stage Lane,
WHEN: Through Sunday, Oct. 8. Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. Sundays plus Saturday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. $16-$34


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.