Arts » Performing Arts

Oh, What A Beautiful Summer


We generally cross the bridge to summer by marching down to Charleston for Spoleto Festival USA, fiercely dedicated to missing both Indy and the Co-Cola 600 during Memorial Day weekend. But we promise to return from the culture front in time for the unofficial kickoff to the Queen City's summer season on June 5.

That would be when good ole Curly struts onto the stage at panoramic Pease Auditorium and begins singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," raving about meduhs or somesuch and launching CPCC Summer Theatre's 29th season with Oklahoma! Another exclamation point closes the season, July 17-27, when CP revives the musical that won Creative Loafing's first Show of the Year Award back in 1987, George M! Charlotte's preeminent triple threat, Billy Ensley, will do the title role. So that Yankee Doodle Dandy could repeat.

Between those two musical exclamations, CP will rock their subscribers with the dual personality of Jekyll and Hyde (June 19-29). For their comedy break, they'll venture away from their usual English farce, crossing the Channel to import Deja Vu (July 1-13).

Just as unexpectedly, CP is doubling their kiddle fare. Besides their pocket version of Annie, aptly titled Annie, Jr., CP will bring in Gray Seal Puppets to perform one of their very best, The Emperor's New Clothes.

Davidson College opens the doors of its spanking new Duke Performance Hall to the Davidson Community Players, which will audaciously attempt the alpine warblings of Rodgers & Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. Neighborhood Theatre takes on The Vagina Monologues through June 9. Scrapping their Stage One Summer Series, Theatre Charlotte counters with Always... Patsy Cline.

There are rumblings from the underground that Richard Newman, Matt Cosper and their guerrilla cohorts will be returning with another The Farm production at Off-Tryon Theatre, a collection of Chekhov shorts opening July 10. But Farm is hinting that they'll also be popping up at other as-yet-undisclosed venues from June through August with incendiary thrusts of Genet, Strindberg and an original dreamwork of their own.

Now that Charlotte Rep founder Steve Umberger has been disgorged by Rep's board of directors, he has acquired a certain renegade cachet. He and spouse Rebecca Koon will take a trip down memory lane with a 10th anniversary revival of Shirley Valentine, opening August 14 at Spirit Square. Their new company is Summer Stage, and we hope it becomes a local fixture.

You can scan our listings to locate the beasts, shrews and oxymorons scheduled to touch down at the Performing Arts Center during the next couple of months. Sad to say, there will be no serious music there -- no symphony, no opera and no jazz. Symphony will pop up for eensy-teensy sweetsy concerts at their newly constructed SouthPark soundstage and audience pit.

There's genuine classical fare for dedicated music-loving Charlotteans during the summer months. But they'll mostly have to hop into their SUV's, pickups, gas guzzlers, and beamers if they want to grab it.

Alluring arts festivals surround us. We'll cover Spoleto USA in a special preview later this month, but there are classical goodies in the North Carolina mountains from mid-June to early August. Yonder past Asheville, the eponymous Brevard Music Festival (June 14-August 4) spotlights soprano Deborah Voight, mezzo Marilyn Horne, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and conductor Keith Lockhart from the Boston Pops.

And speaking of pops, Kingston Trio and The 5th Dimension are also in the lineup. Toss in two musicals (Into the Woods and Oklahoma!), two operas (Falstaff and Don Giovanni), and the American Russian Young Artists Orchestra, and you can see why a wide range of music lovers ought to be reaching for a road map -- and a Brevard Schedule. Online, the info is at

Up in Boone, the Appalachian Summer Festival at App State University (June 28-July 27) will spotlight guitarist Sharon Isbin, violinist Elmar Oliveira, performance artist/musician Laurie Anderson, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Steer your browser to for the full story.

After 25 seasons, the lordly Spoleto Festival USA is widely regarded as one of the world's Top 25 arts festivals. North Carolinians, however, can claim a member of their own in that elite Top 25: the American Dance Festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year in Durham on the Duke campus. Among the big names pirouetting toward Tobacco Road between June 6 and July 20 are Mark Morris, Doug Varone, Trisha Brown, Pilobolus, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre and the African American Dance Ensemble. Launching the celebration, the Paul Taylor Dance Company makes yet another North Carolina visit June 14. Full details are at, a nifty website.

The PT Dance Co. make their third and final Carolina appearance this summer right here at Belk Theater on September 1, kicking off the Carolina Shout Festival, scheduled to run through October 4. We may wind up covering that puppy a bit more in our annual Fall Preview. Meanwhile, you can check in at and enter yourself on the festival mailing list, due for release in early June.

Between now and September, there's one island of musical magnificence. Come August, the fourth annual Brightstar Music Festival nestles into McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square. Last year, Chee Yun and Jonathan Biss graced the roster of all-stars performing in chamber music concerts; pianists Orli Shaham and Eduardus Halim are the new names this year. Encore performers include flutist Mindy Kaufman, bassoonist David Sogg, cellist Margo Tatgenhorst and brilliant violinist Soovin Kim. Full details about the concerts -- and the cool Young Maestros Summer Camp -- can be found at

Theater junkies with a little bit of wanderlust can feed their addiction on the smorgasbord of musicals, comedies and the Bard offered by companies in the high mountains to the west and High Point to the east. Flat Rock Playhouse can give you an extra Rodgers & Hammerstein fix with South Pacific, opening on July 24. A Sinatra tribute, Cole Porter's Anything Goes, a Pump Boys and Dinettes spin-off, and a new work from the creators of The Fantasticks are in the musical cavalcade between now and September 22, plus a comedy tossed in during late August. This is the State theater we're talking about, a company that has repeatedly co-produced with Charlotte Rep, so the product is professional. Go to and see the full schedule into mid-December.

That Sinatra thing kicks off the season at Blowing Rock Stage Company on June 13. But the rest of the summer slate through September 1 is pure theater, including Neil Simon's Chapter Two and a thriller, Dangerous Obsession. Your cyber ticket to additional details is

Artistic director Louis Rackoff isn't taking any big chances in his valedictory year at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. You'll get mainline Bard in High Point, August 16-October 5, including Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest and Macbeth. Your URL of Avon is

So you see, there's a full cupboard of theatergoing and music-loving opportunities in the Charlotte vicinity for any hungry arts lover to devour. Even when our summer stock here in town seems low, you'll find plenty of music, theater, opera and dance that's only a daytrip away. *

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