Weekend In Entertainment: 'The Odd Couple,' 'Fences,' Jazz For Lovers And More!
A look at the entertainment lineup in Charlotte this weekend. We have lots of musical performances happening, theater and dance productions are also on stage for this second weekend in February. Joining "All Things Considered" host Gwendolyn Glen to talk about them for this edition of Weekend In Entertainment is Tim Miner, co-founder of Charlotte Is Creative.
Gwendolyn Glenn: Hi Tim.
Tim Miner: Hi Gwen.
Glenn: Let’s start with this theme song from a popular comedy. It's "The Odd Couple" theme song, the play written originally for Broadway by the legendary Neil Simon, went on to be a successful film and then a popular ABC television show in the late 1960s. Two divorced men, one was extremely neat and the other was a major slob living together. The theater production of the show is in town. Tell us about it.
Miner: So this is widely recognized as one of the greatest comedies ever written for the American stage. And the cool thing about this presentation by Theatre Charlotte is it’s got a stellar cast. Some of Charlotte’s most stalwart, long, hard-working actors. It’s headlined by Brian LaFontaine and Mark Scarboro as Felix and Oscar. And it’s directed by Jill Bloede. If you look very closely you’ll see my creative co-conspirator Matt Olin as one of the poker buddies, Vinnie. And the interesting thing is that a bunch of the actors who auditioned and then were cast as the poker players have had a long-standing poker game, so, it’s a little blending of art and real life.
Glenn: OK, so when and where?
Miner: It is running through Feb. 16 at Theatre Charlotte. You can get tickets at TheatreCharlotte.org -- and be fast because the first weekend sold out.
Glenn: Oh, wow. That’s great. Another stage production on tap this weekend is "Fences." One of the amazing plays in August Wilson’s 10-play century cycle about black life in America. Wilson won a Tony and a Pulitzer for "Fences" and now it’s on stage here.
Miner: So the timing for this is perfect that it’s Black History Month. This show, "Fences," is about a character named Troy Maxson. He is a custodian working in Pittsburgh in the '50s, but kind of his secret pain is that he was an exceptional baseball player who dreamed of playing in the Major League. By the time black players were allowed to play in the Majors, he was deemed too old, so you can imagine that that really metastasizes. That’s something he carries with him and unfortunately takes out on his family. So it explores those family dynamics, infidelity and other subjects.
Glenn: Where will the production here be?
Miner: You can go see that at Duke Energy Theater. It starts tonight and it will run through Saturday, Feb. 15.
Glenn: Moving on to another major production on stage, the Shen Yun production opening Thursday night at Belk Theater. This is a celebration of Chinese tradition, culture and life, right?
Miner: Absolutely. Chinese classical dance is one of the oldest art forms on the planet. And the troupe that is coming through Charlotte comes out of New York and is really trying to keep it alive for modern life. They combine beautiful dance, colorful costumes, orchestral music with acrobatics. It is a highly athletic experience. And the name Shen Yun means "beauty of divine beings dancing in the heavens." So you know you’re in for a magical event. You can catch this in town until Sunday, Feb. 9.
Glenn: And there’s also the Arts and Science Council Connect with Culture Day happening all over the city, Tim, with many free events. It kicks off Friday in its sixth year with free admission into most of the museums like the Mint, the Gantt, the Bechtler and others. Performances from drumming to all things culture.
Miner: Music, history, performance, culinary arts even into the tech arts. The Charlotte Museum of History is a terrific example on Saturday starting at 11 going to 5. They are having programming every hour with everything from martial arts, exhibitions, to digging for bones with Discovery Place, live music from the symphony. It’s really a smorgasbord -- and that’s just one location on Saturday. If you go to the ASC’s website you can find just an array of things.
Glenn: Also, on Friday there is Jazz for Lovers at the Bechtler Museum featuring jazz vocalist Toni Tupponce. Sounds like a romantic evening.
Miner: When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I say it’s better to be ahead then behind. Go ahead and start celebrating early. Toni is going to be performing with another Charlotte musical legend, the Ziad Jazz Quartet. This is the 10th year that the Bechtler has been doing this. They have two shows on Friday night. One is at 6 p.m. one is at 8:15. People that attend can expect all sorts of romantic music. They’ve described it as "fiery" romantic music, down to "really smoking and sultry" music, so it covers the bases and standing room will be available -- but these tickets are first-come, first-served at the Bechtler.
Glenn: Sounds like a great romantic event, and like you said, a week before Valentine’s Day. What a lineup! Thanks Tim.
Miner: It’s been a pleasure. See you soon.
Glenn: That’s Tim Miner, co-founder of Charlotte Is Creative.