Smithfield: Community

August 18, 2014

Broadway comes to Benson

If you have never seen Benson’s mayor William Massengill sing a Broadway hit, then snag some tickets for this weekend’s show.

If you have never seen Benson Mayor William Massengill sing a Broadway hit, then snag some tickets for this weekend’s show.

Among other community residents, he will perform in the Benson Foundation for the Arts show “A Night on Broadway.” The mayor will play Daddy Warbucks in a scene from the musical “Annie.”

This weekend, 26 singers from Benson and surrounding communities will perform 27 songs from 20 musicals spanning 65 years. The cast ranges from professional singers to college students in the community.

“It’s a retrospective variety show, a salute to musical theater,” said D.H. Johnson, the show’s writer and producer.

Broadway is a subject Johnson treasures. He currently splits time between Manhattan – with an apartment in Times Square – and his native Benson. He moved to New York City to act and produce but has been a part of local productions since 2001, when the Benson Foundation for the Arts asked him to be a part of its shows.

He and director Richard Davis would like to introduce the Benson community to such classic musicals as “The Music Man,” “Gypsy,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Spamelot” and “Annie.” The show even dabbles in some rare treasures, such as “I Do! I Do!”

Davis said he and Johnson narrowed the lineup down from 150 songs.

Instead of a storyline, the evening follows a narrative of saluting Broadway, with a single pianist in a cabaret-style show. Greg Dickson accompanies, and Justine Blackmon is the musical director.

“These people know musical theater, and they know how to deliver it,” Johnson said of the cast. He hopes the show will entertainingly “enlighten the community about a genre of music that they might not be familiar with.”

Massengill agreed. “There are a lot of great young artists in our community,” he said.

Tickets are available through the Benson Chamber of Commerce. They’re $11 in advance and $13 at the door, payable by cash, credit card or check. Street parking is available, and the Municipal Building has a parking lot in the rear.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the Benson Chamber of Commerce at 919-894-3825 or visit

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