This Koon can hunt

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Unless you haunt the PAC’s labyrinthine web site you are unlikely to have heard the news. Our Asheville-based benefactors, North Carolina Stage Company, will be launching another season at Duke Energy Theatre on Nov. 12. We extracted this info upon receiving NC Stage’s announcement, released earlier today, that the Asheville season will be opening on Oct. 22 with a new production of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt.

Now you might ask what caused our paroxysm of interest in the possibility of seeing this production in Charlotte. Having seen Cherry Jones here at Belk Theater as Sister Aloysius, and with Meryl Streep’s pass at this plum role scheduled for a nationwide screen release in December, I wasn’t getting on the road to see the NC Stage version just because a two-time CL Actor of the Year, Brian Robinson, is playing Sister’s charismatic prey, the enigmatic Father Flynn. Robinson is a fixture with a bunch of pro companies in Western NC, so this isn’t that special an occasion.

No, but when you toss in two-time CL Actress of the Year Rebecca Koon as Sister Aloysius, I’m definitely up there unless Doubt is headed down here. Koon’s string of stage exploits with Charlotte Repertory Theatre was one of the key reasons why the demise of that company was such a keen blow to the local cultural scene. As Koon’s valedictory CL Award attests — Best Dramatic Actress in Wit – Koon was Rep’s go-to performer for the great diva dramatic roles of our time.

Of course, Koon’s coming shouldn’t come as a shock. She and her husband, Rep founder Steve Umberger, have been lurking in the Tarheel State all year, beginning with Koon’s reprise of Shirley Valentine for NC Shakespeare Festival last winter. Umberger directed another Rep stalwart, Graham Smith, in a fine NCSF production of King Lear that closed in High Point this past weekend. Right now, he’s parked off Exit 30 on I-77, directing rehearsals of Communicating Doors, set to open the Davidson College theater season on Oct. 22.

If you don’t care to hunt down that student effort, we can definitely recommend watching Koon hunt Robinson down as the implacable Sister Aloysius. Doubt will run for two weekends at Duke Playhouse, closing on Nov. 23, with tickets priced at $16-$26. Even before Koon was added to the lineup, NC Stage productions imported to Spirit Square, including It’s a Wonderful Life and Chesapeake, were self-recommending. With their 2008-09 runs extended to a second week, we now consider Charlotte to be NC Stage’s second home. So yes, we’re penciling in Koon and Robinson as eligible for CL’s 22nd Annual Charlotte Theatre Awards.

First, they will have to earn their nominations!

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