Drama Queen (City)
By: Shane Elks
Any city named after a queen should definitely be full of drama…and Charlotte is indeed! For a primarily transplant/banking city, Charlotte has a very expansive theatre scene for all audiences. And no I am not even including the group of professional touring shows hosted at the Belk Theater and Ovens Auditorium. I am speaking of our very own theatre companies born and raised here in our home town. Most of these ran entirely by volunteers from our community. As with most scenes and happenings in Charlotte, if you do not know what you are looking for it is hard to find them. But they do exist! And have been for years.
One could not even begin to mention Theatre in Charlotte without the two words Theatre Charlotte. Theatre Charlotte is Charlotte’s main community theatre and has been for eons. When Theatre Charlotte gets it right they hit it out of the park. I most enjoy when this community theatre doesn’t try to impress with elaborate sets and embraces its stature as a small theatre of very talented volunteers. They also gain applause for truly catering to their audience. In most seasons you can find a complete mixture of classic and contemporary theatre. Their most recent triumph was the musical RENT which was truly a great production. I am excited to see them once again embrace a new found contemporary classic that fits on their stage when they produce Avenue Q later this season.
Continuing with non-profit community theatre I must bring focus to Queen City Theatre Company. This company truly stands by their mission to celebrate diversity both in theatre and the audience. I mean one must surely take notice when a company follows Southern Baptist Sissies with the classic Chess. Queen City has also proven them selves amongst controversy while producing the show The Most Fabulous Story Every Told and now just in time for the DNC they brought us the Off-Broadway hit Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party.
I first experienced Carolina Actors Studio Theatre when it was in Plaza Midwood. I always know I am in for an interesting experience to say the least when I visit the latest works of this company. I wait with baited breath for their upcoming production of Assassins. NoDa is a perfect home for this one of a kind group of talent. Another unique group of performing artists is Citizens of the Universe. Priding themselves as Charlotte’s avant-garde theatre company, they are most known for their success with adapting screen to stage style plays. They recently hosted much praise for their stage version of the movie Trainspotting.
One doesn’t normally pair community college with compelling theatre experiences but CPCC dares to stand on its own as a truly great theatre company. Not only does their regular season produce great shows but they also host an outstanding Summer Theatre program that always offers at least one stand out production! You may also wish to check out CPCC’s equally brilliant Opera and Dance theatre.
Not only is the ImaginOn building a stunning addition to the unique architecture of Charlotte but it is the home of both Children’s Theatre of Charlotte and the Children’s Library. Children’s Theatre of Charlotte has been educating and entertaining children since 1948. When I saw their production of Peter Pan I was blown away by the professional artistry that surrounded the show! They not only bring stories to life for a child they make them reality! By the time the show was over I thought I could fly.
Celebrating its 23rd season is the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte. I have always kept my eye on this company because they bring the Charlotte audience new and mostly unknown works. I admire their faith in Charlotte as an audience and their faith in the works themselves not to just rely on the same old classics that pack houses. They are the ones who brought us the sensational Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Evil Dead: The Musical. I am most excited for their production of God of Carnage.
Though it is refreshing to experience new theatre you just can’t gain more satisfaction than watching the works of Shakespeare unfold before you. Producers of the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival and hosts of a season full of classic masterpieces is the company Collaborative Arts Theatre. If you have never witnessed Shakespeare on stage before then this is the company to see. They bring Shakespeare to today’s audience without losing an ounce of integrity.
I take much pride in the Queen City’s theatre scene and would match it with any growing city. Most of these troupes have stood the test of time and a falling economy! Never under estimate the power of theatre….Sparkle!