In this tiny lull between 2017 and 2018 shows, we're whetting our appetites for the bounty coming our way this year. Here's a sneak peek at what you'll see in the INDY and on local stages each week—and yes, it took us two pages just to get through March. Part two's coming next week.
JAN. 10 Raleigh Little Theatre kicks off the year with What We're Up Against, Brooklyn playwright Theresa Rebeck's comedic drama about a woman who gets fed up with the boys' club at the architecture firm where she works. (The show will play at Peace College while RLT's Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre undergoes renovation.) Durham Independent Dance Artists cofounder Nicola Bullock, who performed the first show ever at the Fruit, returns to debut Imago, a dance theater solo inspired by Greek mythology, Impressionist paintings, and golden age Hollywood. The massive New York-based dance company Shen Yun Performing Arts tours its overwhelming staging of Chinese classical and folk dance at Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium. And NC Theatre tries something different—a straight play rather than a Broadway musical, featuring only two actors, one of whom is Raleigh fixture Ira David Wood III and one of whom is stage-and-screen legend Sandy Duncan—in Love Letters at Fletcher Opera Theater.
JAN. 17 Little Green Pig playwright Tamara Kissane, who earned a four-star INDY review in 2016 by updating Chekhov in The New Colossus, premieres The Master Builder at Hillsborough's Mystery Brewery, updating Ibsen by flipping the genders. At Manbites Dog Theater, Joseph Megel directs a full production of The Miraculous and the Mundane by prominent local playwright Howard L. Craft; the staged reading last year elicited four INDY stars. At the Cary Arts Center, Black Irish, Ronald West's contemporary hip-hop dance company, premieres LIT, an incandescent piece you might consider a counterpart of 2016's nocturnal Shade. Meanwhile, Raleigh's Burning Coal Theatre Company is putting up Larry Kramer's cataclysmic 1985 AIDS drama, The Normal Heart.
JAN. 24 At Reynolds Industries Theater, Duke Performances premieres the nationally renowned Duke theater professor Jody McAuliffe's stage version of Don DeLillo's transgressive novella, The Body Artist, with sets by visionary designer Jim Findlay. Carolina Performing Arts brings the indispensable Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater back to UNC's Memorial Hall, while the Carolina Theatre of Durham brings back mold-setting Chicago improv comedy troupe The Second City with its new show, Look Both Ways Before Talking, about things you probably shouldn't say. Les Misérables hits DPAC after its umpteenth acclaimed Broadway revival, while North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre teams with Actors Comedy Lab for An Act of God, based on the @TheTweetOfGod Twitter account of Emmy-winning The Daily Show with Jon Stewart writer David Javerbaum. And MOJOAA Performing Arts Company artistic director Monét Noelle Marshall premieres her potentially explosive Buy My Soul and Call It Art, a collaboration with more than thirty local artists at Durham's Living Arts Collective that explores the fraught relationship between African-American artists and mainstream art spaces, the emotional labor of African-American artists, and the connection between the art market and American slavery.
JAN. 31 The meeting of B-boys and robots is a bit less novel in the Triangle than it might be elsewhere, thanks to visionary puppeteer Jeghetto, but you've probably still never seen anything quite like Antony Hamilton and Alisdair Macindoe's Bessie Award-winning MEETING, in which algorithm-controlled robots generate random sound for two dancers; Duke Performances brings a rare American staging of this Australian production to the new von der Heyden Studio Theater. Equally far-our things are afoot at Carolina Performing Arts, which is installing the Paul Dresher Ensemble's interactive Sound Maze at its new venue, Current. Carolina Ballet brings its beloved, original version of Romeo and Juliet to Fletcher Opera Theater, while PlayMakers Repertory Company puts Tony nominee Lucas Hnath's The Christians and David Ball's adaptation of Molière's Tartuffe in rotating repertory for a critical but compassionate look at organized religion.
FEB. 7 NC State Live brings the female-led, African Diaspora-driven powerhouse dance company Urban Bush Women to perform Hair and Other Stories, probing broader social injustice through the fine strands of tresses. The Carolina Theatre features the chameleonic comedian and actor Eddie Izzard in support of his first book, Believe Me. Raleigh Little Theatre artistic director Patrick Torres takes the helm of camp classic Little Shop of Horrors at Cantey V. Sutton Theatre.
FEB. 14 Adam Trent, fresh off Broadway bamboozler The Illusionists, conjures his blend of comedy, stage magic, and music at DPAC. The Call, by Tanya Barfield (whose Bright Half Life so impressed us at Manbites last February), a play about a white couple trying to adopt a baby from Africa, receives a Bartlett Theater staging at the Durham Arts Council's PSI Theatre. Theatre Raleigh presents Pooled, an alumnus of its new-play development series, in which the City of Raleigh arts commission's Moses T. Alexander Greene offers a gospel-infused tale of healing. Raleigh's Sonorous Road launches its new in-house repertory company with Burn This by Lanford Wilson. And I'm just going to leave this here: Pauly Shore is coming to Goodnights. Dude.
FEB. 21 Seldom seen below Brooklyn, Bedlam wreaks its minimalist madness on Hamlet and George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan at von der Heyden Studio Theater for Duke Performances. Raleigh's Theatre in the Park brings back theater god Stephen Sondheim's brilliant, batty Assassins, a musical populated by people who've tried to or succeeded in killing U.S. presidents. (Timely, no?) The threshold-smashing British-German performance art group Gob Squad invades Current with a mélange of text, video, and sound that amounts to an interactive performance-lecture on authenticity and the self. Choreographer Aya Shabu premieres LandED: My Hayti|Haiti|History, based on her walking tours of African-American neighborhoods in Durham, at the Hayti Heritage Center for DIDA. At Manbites, Jules Odendahl-James directs Jen Silverman's dreamlike Romantic satire, The Moors. For world-class dance lovers, the Carolina Theatre has Dance Theatre of Harlem, while Motorco hosts an intimate café-style evening with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana.
FEB. 28 At Memorial Hall for Carolina Performing Arts, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre performs a sweeping abstract history of Taiwan, painted in martial arts, modern dance, and ballet. At the Living Arts Collective, DIDA produces its first split bill ever, pairing Loam, Cara Hagan's immersive movement-and-sound exploration of the connection between the body and soil, with a site-specific ritual improvisation by the collective Paideia. Theatre Raleigh stages a contemporary, kid-friendly A Midsummer Night's Dream, while superstar theater producer Cameron Mackintosh's earthier, gritter retooling of The Phantom of the Opera swoops into DPAC on its North American tour, complete with a sprawling cast and orchestra and falling chandeliers.
MAR. 7 Carolina Ballet regularly premieres new works by its artistic director, Robert Weiss, but March brings something else: the world premiere of Lynne Taylor-Corbett's setting of Ravel's Bolero at Fletcher Opera Theater. (Taylor-Corbett works previously seen at Carolina Ballet include Dracula, The Little Mermaid, and The Ugly Duckling.) Bianca del Rio, "the Joan Rivers of the drag world" (The New York Times) and the winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6, will glam up the Carolina Theatre. NC Theatre and Broadway Series South join forces for family musical The Wizard of Oz at Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium. NRACT puts up another classic, Ain't Misbehavin', a tribute to the musicians of the Harlem Renaissance. Following AndAlwaysWhy, her memorable dance theater installation in the 2016 DIDA season, local experimenter Ginger Wagg returns with Frivolous Artist, exploring "the precarious state of being normal."
MAR. 14 The most exciting news of March might be the launch of Black Ops Theatre Company's new Bull City Black Theater Festival at Manbites, which brings together a cross section of artists from local African-American theater groups for workshop stagings of new, short plays as well as forums and classes. For the kiddos, Raleigh Little Theatre sprouts Beanstalk! The Musical!, whose exclamation points give you a good idea of its ingenuous take on fairy tales. For the oldies, DPAC has booked nineties sitcom legend Jerry Seinfeld (cue slap bass) and his durable observational stand-up.
MAR. 21 Following its premiere at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival last year, the whimsical "absurdist travelogue" The Principles of Uncertainty, choreographed by Mark Morris-trained John Heginbotham and based on acclaimed painter-illustrator Maira Kalman's picture book, comes to Reynolds Industries Theater via Duke Performances.
MAR. 28 NC State LIVE hosts the inimitable performer Marc Bamuthi Joseph at Stewart Theatre; the spoken-word and movement artist was called one of the most influential people in dance today by Dance Magazine. His soccer-inspired multimedia piece, /peh-LO-tah/, draws on his experiences as a child of Haitian immigrants. The large, Dutch contemporary dance company Nederlands Dans Theater performs a selection of works at UNC's Memorial Hall for Carolina Performing Arts, including The Statement by Crystal Pite, whose Betroffenheit wowed us at the American Dance Festival last year. The Oprah Winfrey-produced Broadway musical of The Color Purple, Alice Walker's Pulitzer-winning novel about African-American women in the 1930s South, will shake the rafters with its gospel and blues numbers at DPAC. After its premiere in Roanoke Rapids, homegrown play In Everything Trust God, an inspirational comedy by Wanda Dunston, brings popular gospel singer Paul Porter to Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium. And in April, classical Indian dancer Ramya Kapadia, whose "crystalline clarity" shone (quoth the INDY's Byron Woods) at this year's NC Dance Festival, brings the ancient form Bharatanatyam to the restively modern world of DIDA.
See next week's issue for part two.
FIVE ART SHOWS
Becoming a Woman in the Age of Enlightenment: French Art from The Horvitz Collection (Ackland Art Museum, Jan. 26–Apr. 8) With more than a hundred paintings, drawings, and sculptures from an esteemed private collection, UNC-Chapel Hill's art museum explores the shifting roles of women in eighteenth-century French art.
Bob Trotman: Business as Usual (Gregg Museum of Art & Design, Feb. 1–Jul. 1) N.C. State's revamped museum mounts one of the largest exhibits ever of the works of the legendary North Carolina sculptor, whose motion-activated realist woodcarvings of business executives strike a political chord in this tense American moment.
Solidary & Solitary: The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection (Nasher Museum of Art, Feb. 22–Jul. 15) A major national touring exhibit that reconsiders the contributions to abstract art by artists of African descent comes to Duke's museum, featuring works by Norman Lewis, Theaster Gates, Mark Bradford, and others.
Thomas Sayre (Craven Allen Gallery, opening Feb. 28) North Carolina sculptor Thomas Sayre (you might have caught his exhibit White Gold at CAM Raleigh in 2016) is nationally renowned for his large-scale outdoor sculptures, but you can get a more intimate look in this small gallery show, featuring mixed-media works inspired by the cotton fields and farm buildings of the rural South.
Margaret Bowland: Painting the Roses Red (CAM Raleigh, Mar. 2–Jun. 10) Bowland's challenging, realistic figurative paintings disrupt the standard narratives of beauty, race, and gender propagated by the European tradition from which she draws.
John Darnielle (Flyleaf Books, Feb. 13) The Mountain Goats musician turned breakout-success author celebrates the paperback release of Universal Harvester, his second novel, a philosophical take on the improbable genre of literary found-footage horror.
John Grisham and John Hart (Meymandi Concert Hall, Feb. 23) UNC-TV bibliophile D.G. Martin hosts a conversation between one-man thriller industry John Grisham and John Hart, whose popular novels are frequently set in his native North Carolina.
Chris Bohjalian (Quail Ridge Books, Mar. 14) Bohjalian ought to pay rent on The New York Times best-seller list; his twentieth social-issue-based novel, The Flight Attendant, takes on binge drinking and addiction through a murder-mystery lens.
Anna Quindlen (Quail Ridge Books, Mar. 23) Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and widely acclaimed novelist, charts the fault lines exposed by an unexpected act of violence in a tight-knit New York community in her new novel, Alternate Side.
Vegas Tenold (Quail Ridge Books, Mar. 26) Tenold, a widely published journalist, embedded himself in three American white nationalist groups to report on them from the inside, resulting in the vital new book Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America.
This post has been updated to reflect a change in DIDA's season.