Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Holidays from EbzB Productions! Thank you for a wonderful Season!


Thank you for a wonderful season!

-David and Serena Ebhardt zum Brunnen

Compliment: Night Before Christmas Carol, New Bern, NC

Dear David and Serena,

It was a pleasure to meet you and I am glad you enjoyed your trip to New Bern. We had a fantastic response to the performance.  I'm sure audience members must have shared their compliments with both of you.

Thank you for donating copies of your DVD's to the library.  I look forward to seeing War Bonds after our recent trip and touring the World War II museum.  I appreciate your generosity. You were both so easy to work with.  I hope we can do so again.  Merry Christmas.

Sincerely,

Joanne Straight
New Bern Public Library
New Bern, NC

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Deep Dish Theater will present a developmental workshop of Native, a new play written by Ian Finley, January 14-18.

 

 


CHAPEL HILL — Deep Dish Theater will present a developmental workshop of Native, a new play written by Ian Finley, January 14-18, 2015. Directed by Serena Ebhardt, the workshop continues the company's 14th season at University Mall. 

Native is based on the true story of the collaboration between celebrated playwright and North Carolina icon, Paul Green, and the celebrated novelist Richard Wright, the author most famously of Native Son. The two men were brought together to adapt Wright's novel for Orson Welles' Broadway production, and the play explores the battle of wills that ensued.

Ian Finley is an area playwright and educator who served as the NC Piedmont Laureate in 2012. He received the Harry Kondoleon Award for playwriting while earning his MFA at New York University's Tisch School of Performing Arts. His plays include a 2-part musical adaptation of Thomas Hardy's 
Jude the Obscure for Burning Coal Theatre Company in Raleigh, Up from the Ground for the Piedmont Laureate program, and two ten-minute plays for the Ackland Art Museum. He also serves as Head of Drama at Research Triangle High School.

 

The play is written for two actors who portray the principals and occasionally other supporting characters.  Gil Faison, whose Deep Dish appearances include Jitney and the title role in Othello, will play Richard Wright.  Opposite him will be David zum Brunnen, a long-time Deep Dish collaborator who appeared in Via Dolorosa and State of the Union.  Director Serena Ebhardt’s work includes, on the Deep Dish stage, the premiere production of Dar He, and most recently, the Paul Green WWI musical, Johnny Johnson, at UNC.


The workshop will be presented with minimal production values and script in hand, as the text continues to evolve. Audience members will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the play in post-performance conversations, and rewrites will go on throughout the 5-performance run.

Performances begin Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday (matinee) at 2 p.m. Deep Dish is located in Chapel Hill's University Mall, on Estes Drive and US 15-501.  The performance on Saturday evening, Jan. 1
7, will coincide with the theater’s annual fundraising gala.

Tickets are $16. Tickets for the Saturday evening fundraiser are $6
5, or $110 per couple.  Call (919) 968-1515 for reservations and visit www.deepdishtheater.org for information. 

The Deep Dish Theater Company is committed to presenting compelling, human-centered dramatic work that contributes to the cultural richness of the Triangle area and challenges audiences to explore concerns of the community and the world-at-large.

The Deep Dish Theater Company is committed to presenting compelling, human-centered dramatic work that contributes to the cultural richness of the Triangle area and challenges audiences to explore concerns of the community and the world-at-large.

Theater Contact |  Paul Frellick  |  (919) 968-1515  |  paulfrellick@deepdishtheater.org

Thursday, December 11, 2014

NATIVE Workshop at Deep Dish Theater January 14 -18, 2015

New Play Workshop 2015 Announced!
December 10th, 2014
Deep Dish Theater will present a developmental workshop of Native, a new play by Triangle playwright and former Piedmont Laureate Ian Finley, January 14-18. Directed by Serena Ebhardt, the workshop continues the company's 14th season at University Mall.

Native is based on the true story of the collaboration between celebrated playwright and North Carolina icon, Paul Green, and the celebrated novelist Richard Wright, the author most famously of Native Son. The two men were brought together to adapt Wright's novel for Orson Welles' Broadway production, and the play explores the battle of wills that ensued.

Ian Finley is an area playwright and educator who served as the NC Piedmont Laureate in 2012. He received the Harry Kondoleon Award for playwriting while earning his MFA at New York University's Tisch School of Performing Arts. His plays include a 2-part musical adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure for Burning Coal Theatre Company in Raleigh, Up from the Ground for the Piedmont Laureate program, and two ten-minute plays for the Ackland Art Museum. He also serves as Head of Drama at Research Triangle High School.

The workshop will be presented with minimal production values and script in hand, as the text continues to evolve. Audience members will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the play in post-performance conversations, and rewrites will go on throughout the 5-performance run.

Performances begin Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday (matinee) at 2 p.m. Deep Dish is located in Chapel Hill's University Mall, on Estes Drive and US 15-501. The performance on Saturday evening, Jan. 17, will coincide with the theater's annual fundraising gala.

Tickets are $16. Tickets for the Saturday evening fundraiser are $65, or $110 per couple. Call (919) 968-1515 for reservations and visit www.deepdishtheater.org for information.

[Link to this story]

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Night Before Christmas Carol at Gem Theatre in Calhoun, GA


Calhoun’s downtown GEM Theatre is set to play host a production of “Night Before Christmas Carol” on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 3 p.m.
EbzB Productions, which brought “War Bonds” to the GEM stage in 2012, is set to return with “Night Before Christmas Carol,” an historically accurate and highly humorous holiday production by renowned Dickens scholar, Elliott Engel.

It takes place in 1843 on the night that Charles Dickens dreams up his idea for a ghostly little Christmas book that becomes world famous. As he composes his winter morality tale, the audience watches the real Dickens explain his inspirations.
Tickets range from $8 for students to $12 for GEM members and $15 for the general public.
For more information, visit www.calhoungem.org or 706-625-3132.
The GEM Box Office is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

War, Peace and Sexuality: A Critical Review of Weill's Johnny Johnson


War, Peace and Sexuality: A Critical Review of Weill’s Johnny Johnson

Kamaira Philips

Musc 202

December 3rd, 2014

Concert Report

I didn’t expect to like Johnny Johnson. I was not intrigued by the thought of a World War I musical. Johnny Johnson is a musical that was written by Kurt Weill and Paul Green in 1936 between two of the largest wars in history (WWI and WWII) about the perception of pacifism during war. A musical about war seemed like an odd and disrespectful juxtaposition as opposed to a musical used to keep spirits up during war. However, Johnny Johnson was a great portrayal of social issues that were relevant in the 1930s and that are still relevant today. One question posed by the protagonist was “What is the point of war?” and it was answered with “WWI is a war to put down and end war.” The dialogue posed these reflective questions throughout the musical, causing the audience to evaluate their own views on war, peace, social conventions and politics.

A huge takeaway for me was the abundant direct and indirect references to sexuality, particularly male sexuality and homosexuality. Homosexuality in the military has been a controversial issue in America until recently when the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was lifted and gays could openly serve in the armed forces. It is not likely that messages of homosexuality in the military were intended from Weill but Paul Green was a huge human rights activist and these ideas may have aligned with his way of thinking. According to cast member Amanda Hemric, Paul Green was a WWI veteran whose job was to estimate the death toll before each battle and collaborating with Weill on Johnny Johnson was a way of expressing the horrors of war and questionable practices of the military. Weill and Green represented these uncomfortable issues through the cover of humor and sexuality.

            Musicologist Tim Carter spent six years trying to decode the ambiguous and sexualized subtext of Johnny Johnson. The Kenan Theatre Company was allowed to explore sexual undertones in music, text and choreography in order to make a somewhat mediocre musical more intriguing because Paul Green Jr thought that his father would have agreed. The implications of the subtext and deeper messages are purposely left open-ended and up to the interpretation of the musicologists, directors and performers.

            According to musicologist Mark Evan Bonds, music is meaningful because it is not always straightforward. There are hidden messages, symbols and layers of themes that may be interpreted in many ways. Male sexuality when used in literature, music or media may be a symbol for dominance and power. The competition for and dominance over the female character known as “a camp doll” could possibly represent fascism of Nazi Germany overpowering and oppressing Jews around the time of this musical’s composition.

The Kenan Theatre Company took an average musical and made it great. The hours of extra rehearsal time showed. The choreography was polished and the scene changes were very smooth. I have a deep admiration for the actors and actresses for having the stamina to do five showings in a week. I was impressed by the quality of acting from the vocalists and music majors in the show. They definitely held their own with the drama majors. I was also struck by how well the drama majors sang. The music and dramatic arts departments should collaborate more often. I was really impressed with the accuracy of the performer’s various accents and voices from a Southern American accent to a French accent.

Rachel Tuton played a French nurse who defended Johnny Johnson after he was shot in the derriere. The shot in the butt was both comical and sad from the assertion that one who is shot in the behind exhibited cowardice. This musical made me laugh and sigh within the same song or line of dialogue. Perhaps the oscillating nature of emotions within the work from a microscale (from a line of dialogue) to a macroscale (happy, idyllic beginning and tragic ending) represent mental illnesses like bipolar (manic depressive illness) or Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which many soldiers suffer from after a war.

A notable turning point in the musical occurred during the “Song of the Goddess,” which was sung by the statue of liberty as a symbol for America and freedom. It was a very loaded and metaphorical song with an ocean of political strife waiting to break through in the next scene. This song was a lament and it had organ accompaniment, which evoked the nostalgia and longing of soldiers for home during deployment as well as the grief of America for its soldiers’ deaths. One would not think of an inanimate object as having a song but it offered an external perspective on peace and war. The statue of liberty, played by Laura Dromerick, sang text such as “He knows not that I am a thing of stone and have no heart within my breast” and “I send men forward to die.” The use of songs like this and others provided excellent moments of insight into the dialogue of tragedy or comedy. Captain Valentine’s song and the Cowboy song were hilarious and seemed a little out of place in terms of the plot. They added a humorous and light-hearted appeal that made the anti-war and pacifist themes of the musical more digestible to a larger audience. The only main character in the musical that constantly advocated for peace and tried to unify people of different backgrounds was the protagonist Johnny Johnson. Johnny Johnson represented an individual who embodies peace and unfortunately suffers because he doesn’t conform to society’s expectations.

            Johnny Johnson felt less like a commentary on WWI and more like a satirical anticipation of WWII. My interpretation of the use of sexuality was as a metaphor for political and racial dominance. I think that this play foreshadows issues that are still correlated with society and war. Unfortunately the demise of the protagonist Johnny Johnson made me reflect on how those who defend goodness and peace may be broken down by societal resistance. One individual may make a difference but they are often met with negativity like being called “crazy” for defying social expectations. I couldn’t decide if this play was in a way making fun of the military or if the satire was to ensure the play’s success. Overall I thought the cast of Johnny Johnson did a great job portraying relevant military, political and social issues.

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 7--The Night Before Christmas Carol, 3 p.m.

Join us December 7, 2014 -- The Night Before Christmas Carol, 3 p.m.
Friends of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library 400 Johnson Street, New Bern, NC 28560
friends@nbccpl.org
#ebzb

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Review, Compliment: In “Johnny Johnson,” Johnny Came Home Damaged — Really Damaged — from the War to End All Wars

http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2014/11/in-johnny-johnson-johnny-came-home-damaged-really-damaged-from-the-war-to-end-all-wars/


Kenan Theatre Company guest director Serena Ebhardt and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill music professor Dr. Tim Carter succeeded beyond our already high expectations in bringing Paul Green and Kurt Weill’s1936 production of Johnny Johnson, to the stage in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the UNC Center for Dramatic Art. The show is a first-class smash. This presentation will set the standard for future productions as well as establish this script over the other versions lying around. Its anti-war theme is developed early on and just keeps on building till the last song, “Johnny’s Song,” is sung.

The story line has Johnny, a monument maker, being persuaded, eventually, by his girlfriend, to enlist in the Army when America joins the war in Europe in 1917. It is not a happy decision for Johnny, who is inept as a soldier, pacifist and strong-willed. His adventures and misadventures keep him in hot water with the brass; his heroics are misinterpreted and eventually he is discharged less than honorably. In the meantime, the girlfriend has married his rival and life pretty much falls apart for him. All of this is done with musical and dance accompaniment and hilarious anecdotes, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, whose famous “Shoulder Arms” is played in part as prologue to the show.

The song-and-dance routines involve mind-bending bodily postures emulating the wounded, and some very clever marches that manage to be whimsical and military at once. Portions of the story as well are told using projections from silent films and other art work.

Eighteen actors played 68 roles, all dressed in khaki uniforms and using over-dress costumes to identify their various parts. Costumer Sam Kate Toney has done a remarkable job of keeping it simple and expressing individual character. Choreographer Heather Tatreau has devised extraordinary, stylized dances and movements that are both heart-wrenching and hilarious, and some otherwise unreferenced stories are told within the frame of dance as well.

Set designer Julia Warren has erected a structure that serves well as Chickamauga Hill, a cannon emplacement, a church, and several different rooms, all with minimal effort to effect, and a clear understanding of their purpose. Rolling pieces establish spaces and also carry props, making for efficiency in scene changes.

Projection designer Cameron Kania places important elements of the storytelling in appropriate spots at appropriate times, enhancing the sense of technical ensemble this piece requires. The obvious teamwork, artistic, mechanical, performance, and musical is amply demonstrated. The use of a full 15-piece orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Evan Feldman, to support the cast and fill the gaps rounds out the extreme professionalism that is the hallmark of this show.

Director Serena Ebhardt has woven a formidable array of talent, discipline, and community to create this enviable feat of theater. The UNC student presentation of Johnny Johnson is wonderfully understated, showing the grit, determination, and integrity of the title character — even in his final duress. Andrew Plotnikov is the perfect model for Johnny Johnson.

Annie Keller gives us Minny Belle Thompkins, Johnny’s would-be girlfriend, who dumps him for a guy who lies to get out of the Army. Minny Belle’s absence of character is hard to accept given Keller’s beautiful voice, which soars operatically.

Among other roles, Emma Gutt glistens as the mad psychiatrist, Dr. Mahodan, so crippled with her own psychoses that she cannot keep her body in control; and Gutt creates postures and faces that seem impossible. Rachel Tuton’s marvelous voice soothes the ailing Johnny, as the French Nurse, and her accent is endearing. Caitlyn Carmean brings a gripping pathos to her role as Aggie Thompkins, Minny Belle’s mother.

Captain Valentine is simply divine in the hands of Cressler Peele, who camps up the officer’s character in great style. Matt Verner brings an appropriate priggishness to a West Point lieutenant who shows his true colors in the end. To pick out just a few like this almost does an injustice to the rest of the cast, whose performances were all delightful and heartfelt.

That is the hard side of reviewing such a well-executed show. Our hats are off to the entire cast, and we fervently wish Johnny Johnson could have a much longer run. This is the premier performance of this version of Johnny Johnson, courageously brought to us by the Kenan Theatre Company and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Dramatic ArtDepartment of Music, and Institute for the Arts and Humanities. It is a play with music that deserves to be seen by more audiences during the centennial of World War I — especially by people who enjoy theater and seek peace.

SECOND OPINION: Nov. 21st Raleigh, NC CVNC review by the Alan R. Hallhttp://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=7088; Nov. 20th Chapel Hill, NC Daily Tar Heel (student newspaper) preview by the Sindhu Chidambaram http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/11/kenan-theatre-company-lauds-veterans and Jan. 8th preview by the Karishma Patelhttp://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/01/tim-carter-feature-0109. Nov. 19th Chapel Hill, NC WUNC/91.5 FM interview with director Serena Ebhardt, UNC music professor Dr. Tim Carter, and actors Andrew Plotnikov and Kyle Strickenberger, conducted by Frank Stasio for “The State of Things”: http://wunc.org/post/chapel-hill-playwrights-social-commentary-world-war-i; Nov. 14th Durham, NC Herald-Sunpreview by Cliff Bellamyhttp://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment/x205865692/In-another-time-UNC-presents-restored-version-of-WWI-musical (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); Oct. 5th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleigh preview by the BWW News Deskhttp://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/UNC-Presents-World-Premiere-of-New-JOHNNY-JOHNSON-Musical-1120-24-20141005; and (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Nov. 14th Triangle Review preview by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2014/11/johnny-johnson-is-a-harsh-reminder-that-the-war-to-end-all-wars-didnt/.)

The Kenan Theatre Company, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Departments of Dramatic Art and Music, and the UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities present JOHNNY JOHNSON at 5 p.m. Nov. 24 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the UNC campus. 

TICKETS: $10 ($5 students with ID). 

BOX OFFICE: http://drama.unc.edu/johnnyjohnson/

SHOW: http://drama.unc.edu/johnnyjohnson/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/278207785711227/

PRESENTERS: 

Kenan Theatre Company: http://drama.unc.edu/ktc/ and https://www.facebook.com/KenanTheatreCompany

UNC Department of Dramatic Art: http://drama.unc.edu/

UNC Department of Music: http://music.unc.edu/

UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities: http://iah.unc.edu/

CAST BLOG: http://drama.unc.edu/2014/10/29/johnny-johnson-cast-blog/

VENUE: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/kenan

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://playmakersrep.org/visitorinfo.

OTHER LINKS: 

Johnny Johnson (1936 Broadway musical) http://www.kwf.org/kurt-weill/weill-works/28-weill-works/weill-works/160-j6main (Kurt Weill Foundation for Music), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=4921 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Johnson_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia). 

Kurt Weill (German composer, 1900-50) http://www.kwf.org/ (Kurt Weill Foundation for Music), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7112 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Weill(Wikipedia). 

Paul Green (Lillington, NC-born dramatist and lyricist, 1894-1981) http://www.paulgreen.org/ (official website), http://www.paulgreen.org/foundation.html (Paul Green Foundation), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=8043(Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Green_%28playwright%29 (Wikipedia). 

Serena Ebhardt (director) http://www.ebzb.org/serena/ (EbzB Productions bio). 

A Year-Long Conversation: World War I — The Legacy: http://iah.unc.edu/news/newsarchive/2013/WWI (UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

Compliment, Review: Johnny Johnson at Kenan Theatre Company

“Johnny Johnson” was a great production all around, for many reasons. The show is certainly not one that plays itself and must have a creative vision and understanding to get it across. Your direction made it feel all of a piece with each segment part of defined arc. The pacing was astonishingly tight and so satisfying to see the actors understand what it takes to make a show vibrant. And the actors were on the same track, all so wonderfully aware of the need to stay focused and keep to the established world of the show. In such a large cast, it was significant that, no matter the size of the part, everyone contributed at the highest level.

The physical production added so much to the enjoyment of the production, not only from the historical perspective but in the clever use of certain photos for commentary and others for artistic and spacial impact. The orchestra was a show on its own, so marvelously right for Weill’s special musical world. The choreography had an intriguing layer of commentary on its own. And the idea of everyone being in military garb with just costume pieces added for non-military characters was brilliant.

It’s rare to say that there’s nothing wrong with a production but I’d be sorely pressed to find something. You and the whole cast and crew deserve high accolades for this impressively committed endeavor, especially with such non-standard material. Thanks for a fine afternoon of theater.


Roy Dicks
Triangle Theater Critic

Night Before Christmas Carol, The Cary Theatre, December 12, 2014

‘The Night Before Christmas Carol’ Presented by EBZB Productions
Where and when: The Cary Theater, Cary, NC Dec. 12
Target audience: Older teens and adults
Description: Actor David zum Brunnen portrays Charles Dickens in his study on Christmas Eve, 1843, the night the author dreams up the tale that will become a holiday classic.
Watch for: The creation of 17 different characters merely through hats, scarves and shawls, as well as a wide variety of accents.
Tickets and info: $10 (seniors $8). 919-462-2051 or  thecarytheater.com


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/11/29/4362893/holiday-stage-shows-for-triangle.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Johnny Johnson, Directed by Serena Ebhardt

http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2014/11/in-johnny-johnson-johnny-came-home-damaged-really-damaged-from-the-war-to-end-all-wars/


JohnnyJohnsonPOSTER-KenanTheatreCompany2014

Kenan Theatre Company guest director Serena Ebhardt and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill music professor Dr. Tim Cartersucceeded beyond our already high expectations in bringing Paul Green and Kurt Weill’s 1936 production of Johnny Johnson, to the stage in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the UNC Center for Dramatic Art. The show is a first-class smash. This presentation will set the standard for future productions as well as establish this script over the other versions lying around. Its anti-war theme is developed early on and just keeps on building till the last song, “Johnny’s Song,” is sung.

The story line has Johnny, a monument maker, being persuaded, eventually, by his girlfriend, to enlist in the Army when America joins the war in Europe in 1917. It is not a happy decision for Johnny, who is inept as a soldier, pacifist and strong-willed. His adventures and misadventures keep him in hot water with the brass; his heroics are misinterpreted and eventually he is discharged less than honorably. In the meantime, the girlfriend has married his rival and life pretty much falls apart for him. All of this is done with musical and dance accompaniment and hilarious anecdotes, reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin, whose famous “Shoulder Arms” is played in part as prologue to the show.

The song-and-dance routines involve mind-bending bodily postures emulating the wounded, and some very clever marches that manage to be whimsical and military at once. Portions of the story as well are told using projections from silent films and other art work.

Eighteen actors played 68 roles, all dressed in khaki uniforms and using over-dress costumes to identify their various parts. Costumer Sam Kate Toney has done a remarkable job of keeping it simple and expressing individual character. Choreographer Heather Tatreau has devised extraordinary, stylized dances and movements that are both heart-wrenching and hilarious, and some otherwise unreferenced stories are told within the frame of dance as well.
Set designer Julia Warren has erected a structure that serves well as Chickamauga Hill, a cannon emplacement, a church, and several different rooms, all with minimal effort to effect, and a clear understanding of their purpose. Rolling pieces establish spaces and also carry props, making for efficiency in scene changes.

Projection designer Cameron Kania places important elements of the storytelling in appropriate spots at appropriate times, enhancing the sense of technical ensemble this piece requires. The obvious teamwork, artistic, mechanical, performance, and musical is amply demonstrated. The use of a full 15-piece orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Evan Feldman, to support the cast and fill the gaps rounds out the extreme professionalism that is the hallmark of this show.

Director Serena Ebhardt has woven a formidable array of talent, discipline, and community to create this enviable feat of theater. The UNC student presentation of Johnny Johnson is wonderfully understated, showing the grit, determination, and integrity of the title character — even in his final duress. Andrew Plotnikov is the perfect model for Johnny Johnson.
Annie Keller gives us Minny Belle Thompkins, Johnny’s would-be girlfriend, who dumps him for a guy who lies to get out of the Army. Minny Belle’s absence of character is hard to accept given Keller’s beautiful voice, which soars operatically.

Among other roles, Emma Gutt glistens as the mad psychiatrist, Dr. Mahodan, so crippled with her own psychoses that she cannot keep her body in control; and Gutt creates postures and faces that seem impossible. Rachel Tuton’s marvelous voice soothes the ailing Johnny, as the French Nurse, and her accent is endearing. Caitlyn Carmean brings a gripping pathos to her role as Aggie Thompkins, Minny Belle’s mother.

Captain Valentine is simply divine in the hands of Cressler Peele, who camps up the officer’s character in great style. Matt Verner brings an appropriate priggishness to a West Point lieutenant who shows his true colors in the end. To pick out just a few like this almost does an injustice to the rest of the cast, whose performances were all delightful and heartfelt.

That is the hard side of reviewing such a well-executed show. Our hats are off to the entire cast, and we fervently wish Johnny Johnson could have a much longer run. This is the premier performance of this version of Johnny Johnson, courageously brought to us by the Kenan Theatre Company and UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Dramatic ArtDepartment of Music, and Institute for the Arts and Humanities. It is a play with music that deserves to be seen by more audiences during the centennial of World War I — especially by people who enjoy theater and seek peace.




SECOND OPINION: Nov. 21st Raleigh, NC CVNC review by the Alan R. Hallhttp://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=7088; Nov. 20th Chapel Hill, NC 

Daily Tar Heel (student newspaper) preview by the Sindhu Chidambaram http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/11/kenan-theatre-company-lauds-veterans and Jan. 8th preview by the Karishma Patelhttp://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2014/01/tim-carter-feature-0109. Nov. 19th Chapel Hill, NC WUNC/91.5 FM interview with director Serena Ebhardt, UNC music professor Dr. Tim Carter, and actors Andrew Plotnikov and Kyle Strickenberger, conducted by Frank Stasio for “The State of Things”: http://wunc.org/post/chapel-hill-playwrights-social-commentary-world-war-i; Nov. 14th Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Cliff Bellamyhttp://www.heraldsun.com/lifestyles/entertainment/x205865692/In-another-time-UNC-presents-restored-version-of-WWI-musical (Note: You must subscribe to read this article); Oct. 5th Raleigh, NC BroadwayWorld.com Raleighpreview by the BWW News Deskhttp://www.broadwayworld.com/raleigh/article/UNC-Presents-World-Premiere-of-New-JOHNNY-JOHNSON-Musical-1120-24-20141005; and (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Nov. 14th Triangle Review preview by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2014/11/johnny-johnson-is-a-harsh-reminder-that-the-war-to-end-all-wars-didnt/.)
The Kenan Theatre Company, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Departments of Dramatic Art and Music, and the UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities present JOHNNY JOHNSON at 5 p.m. Nov. 24 in the Elizabeth Price Kenan Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the UNC campus. 
TICKETS: $10 ($5 students with ID). 
PRESENTERS: 
UNC Department of Dramatic Art: http://drama.unc.edu/
UNC Department of Music: http://music.unc.edu/
UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities: http://iah.unc.edu/
OTHER LINKS: 
Johnny Johnson (1936 Broadway musical) http://www.kwf.org/kurt-weill/weill-works/28-weill-works/weill-works/160-j6main (Kurt Weill Foundation for Music), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=4921 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Johnson_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia). 
Kurt Weill (German composer, 1900-50) http://www.kwf.org/ (Kurt Weill Foundation for Music), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=7112 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Weill (Wikipedia). 
Paul Green (Lillington, NC-born dramatist and lyricist, 1894-1981) http://www.paulgreen.org/ (official website), http://www.paulgreen.org/foundation.html (Paul Green Foundation), http://www.ibdb.com/person.php?id=8043 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Green_%28playwright%29 (Wikipedia). 
Serena Ebhardt (director) http://www.ebzb.org/serena/ (EbzB Productions bio). 
A Year-Long Conversation: World War I — The Legacy: http://iah.unc.edu/news/newsarchive/2013/WWI (UNC Institute for the Arts and Humanities).
EDITOR’S NOTE:
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

WUNC Radio Interview on Johnny Johnson with Serena Ebhardt, Tim Carter, and cast members.



Listen to WUNC's State of Things Interview with the artists from the UNC Production of Johnny Johnson by Paul Green and Kurt Weill...

http://wunc.org/post/chapel-hill-playwrights-social-commentary-world-war-i




Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kenan Theatre Company presents restored version of ‘Johnny Johnson’ Nov. 20-24, 2014

Directed by Serena Ebhardt, Guest Professor. http://uncnews.unc.edu/2014/10/14/kenan-theatre-company-presents-restored-version-johnny-johnson-nov-20-24/


Paul Green, Jr. and The Cast of KTC's Johnny Johnson

Kenan Theatre Company presents restored version of ‘Johnny Johnson’ Nov. 20-24

For immediate use

Kenan Theatre Company presents restored version of ‘Johnny Johnson’ Nov. 20-24

Musical play written by UNC playwright Paul Green and German composer Kurt Weill and performed by UNC students is part of a year-long conversation on the legacy of World War I

(Chapel Hill, N.C.—Oct. 14, 2014) – The world premiere of the restored version of “Johnny Johnson”by Paul Green and Kurt Weillwith text and music not heard since 1937, will be staged at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Nov. 20-24.

Performances will take place in the Kenan Theatre, Center for Dramatic Art, on Nov. 20 at 8 p.m., Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. (with a post-show discussion), Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. (with a pre-show symposium), Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. and Nov. 24 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10; $5 for students. For reservations and information, visithttp://drama.unc.edu/johnnyjohnson/.

The musical play is set during World War I, and the cast is composed of UNC students, 18 to 22 years old — the same age of soldiers who sacrificed their lives “over there” 100 years ago.

In the play, lowly tombstone cutter Johnny Johnson is persuaded to enlist in the U.S. Army both by his sweetheart, Minny Belle Tompkins, and by President Woodrow Wilson’s promise of “a war to end all wars.” But Johnny is outraged by the absurdity of trench warfare and, by using laughing gas, fools the Allied generals into calling a cease-fire. Johnny is arrested, shipped back to America and locked up in a lunatic asylum for his “peace monomania.” Released some 20 years later, he makes a living selling handmade toys as war threatens again.

“Johnny Johnson” originated in the summer of 1936, when German-Jewish composer Kurt Weill visited Chapel Hill to team up with prominent North Carolina playwright and Carolina faculty member Paul Green. The play opened on Broadway on Nov. 19, but its acting company made drastic cuts before the premiere. Green and Weill restored those cuts when “Johnny Johnson” was picked up by the Federal Theatre Project, with productions in Boston and Los Angeles in May 1937. However, subsequent performances used the shortened text while the more complete version lay hidden in archives.

Some of this archival material survives in the Southern Historical Collection in UNC’s Wilson Library, some in the National Archives (College Park, Md.), and some in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale University. These newly uncovered sources provided the basis for the critical edition of “Johnny Johnson” prepared by Tim Carter, David G. Frey Distinguished Professor of Music at UNC and recently issued by the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music. The edition won the Claude V. Palisca Award of the American Musicological Society for an outstanding scholarly edition or translation in the field of musicology published during 2012.

The play is directed by Paul and Elizabeth Green Scholar and UNC alumna Serena Ebhardt.

Louise Toppin, professor and chair of the UNC music department, serves as musical director with Evan Feldman, also from the music department, as conductor. Heather Tatreau of the department of exercise and sport science is the choreographer. David Navalinsky, director of undergraduate productions for the department of dramatic art, serves as producer.

“Johnny Johnson” is part of a year-long conversation during 2014-2015 focused on the legacy of World War I. For more on The World War I Centenary Project, visit www.iah.unc.edu/WWI.

-Carolina-

Department of dramatic art contact: David Navalinsky, (919) 962-1557, dbnav@email.unc.edu
College of Arts and Sciences contact: Kim Spurr (919) 962-4093, spurrk@email.unc.edu

This entry was posted in ArtsLatest NewsNews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: “Blood Done Sign My Name” Is a Hard-Hitting Script, Powerfully Performed by Playwright Mike Wiley | Triangle Arts and Entertainment

“Blood Done Sign My Name” Is a Hard-Hitting Script, Powerfully Performed by Playwright Mike Wiley | Triangle Arts and Entertainment


“Blood Done Sign My Name” Is a Hard-Hitting Script, Powerfully Performed by Playwright Mike Wiley

Posted by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle+ • June 2nd, 2014 •

Author Timothy B. Tyson’s memoir of racial tensions in Oxford during the 1960s and 1970s has been adapted for stage by Mike Wiley, an actor and playwright based in Raleigh, NC. Blood Done Sign My Name is the second in this year’s Theatre Raleigh “Hot Summer Nights” series.

As the real-life Eddie McCoy, who attended the Thursday May 29th, performance and participated in the talkback discussion afterwards, said of the effects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “They didn’t just open the door up and say ‘Y’all come in, integration done come.’ Somebody was bruised and kicked and knocked around — you better believe it.” This story brings that truth to life.

Token integration, the smile that accompanied the denial, was the standard in Oxford, NC (as it was in other places as well, it must be added). Not much changed, except the veneer of courtesy. When Henry “Dickie” Marrow, a recently returned Vietnam veteran, was beaten brutally and then shot in the head right out on a town street in broad daylight, a stirring, a movement infused the black population of Oxford, led by Mr. McCoy and other Vietnam vets. It brought the Oxford white leadership to its knees and possibly to some understanding of how the future might be viewed.

Director Serena Ebhardt has carefully and meticulously blocked her single actor around the stage to best express his uncanny ability to shift from character to character, dozens of discrete characters in all, male and female, white and black, old and young. The transition from character to character is so subtle that it is sometimes astonishing. Ebhardt has also positioned and woven in the extraordinary vocalisms of the renowned gospel singer Mary D. Williams, smoothly and dramatically and beautifully.

Mike Wiley is a superb actor. He has not only the ability to transform himself into a myriad of different characters without even changing costume, but he gives each of them a sharp portrayal and brings a depth of emotion to each part. Wiley possesses seemingly limitless energy, as attested by his returning from his curtain call after an impressively vigorous performance and displaying the same spirited level for nearly a half hour during the post-performance talkback.

Gospel singer Mary D. Williams has a voice that has been compared to Mahalia Jackson, and that is entirely understandable. She can fill the room with a pianissimo whisper and fill the soul with a full throated forte; and, working together, she and Wiley involve the audience and invoke our memories by pulling us into singing some of the freedom cries of the 1960s.

We are fortunate that Tim Tyson, the award-winning author of this story, is a senior research scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies and a visiting professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture in the Divinity School at Duke University.

SECOND OPINION: May 28th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/blood-done-sign-my-name/Event?oid=4157947.

Theatre Raleigh presents BLOOD DONE SIGN MY NAME, Written and Performed by Mike Wiley, at 8 p.m. June 4-6, 2 and 8 p.m. June 7, and 2 p.m. June 8 in the Sara Lynn and K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $27 ($25 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 866-811-4111 or https://web.ovationtix.com/.

GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-480-5166.

SHOW: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/blood-done-sign-my-name/, https://www.facebook.com/BloodDone, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/blood-done-sign-my-name-theatre-raleigh-s-hot-summer-nights-series-private-event-4634.

VIDEO PREVIEW (by Minnow Media): http://vimeo.com/11385671.

PRESENTER: http://www.theatreraleigh.com/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Theatre-Raleigh/349124511834045, and https://twitter.com/TheatreRaleigh.

VENUE: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/venue/kennedy-theatre.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/directions.

PARKING: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/parking.

OTHER LINKS:

Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story (2004 autobiographical book): http://www.randomhouse.com/book/181459/blood-done-sign-my-name-by-timothy-b-tyson (Random House) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Done_Sign_My_Name (Wikipedia).

Timothy B. Tyson (Chapel Hill, NC author and historian): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Tyson (Wikipedia).

The Book: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

Blood Done Sign My Name (2008 play): http://www.mikewileyproductions.com/play_blood.html (official web page).

Study Guide: http://www.mikewileyproductions.com/pdfs/plays/bdsmn/BDSMNCollege.pdf (Mike Wiley Productions).

Mike Wiley (Raleigh, NC playwright/performer): http://www.mikewileyproductions.com/ (official website), https://www.facebook.com/mike.wiley.77 (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/MIKEWILEYPRODS (Twitter page).

Serena Ebhardt (Apex, NC director): http://www.ebzb.org/serena/home.html (EbzB Productions bio), https://www.facebook.com/serenaebhardt (Facebook page), and https://twitter.com/ebzb (Twitter page).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.




Comments are closed.