Arts & Culture

Triangle theater and dance roundup

Triangle students who think Halloween is the only door-to-door ritual historically practiced in North Carolina haven't met 2 Near the Edge.

The local dance troupe has been teaching college and younger students about two interestingly parallel celebrations.

Oidhche Challuinn is a Scottish celebration marking the beginning of the new year, which immigrants practiced here. And Jonkannu -- which has wide-ranging spellings and roots -- was a brief respite that slaves were given between Christmas and New Year's Day. In both, celebrants took their festivities door to door.

2 Near the Edge explores the two rituals in its "Night of Renewal," a performance with Peace College Dance Company Nov. 13, 15 and 16 at the college's Leggett Theatre.

Choreographer Keval Kaur Khalsa says she and company partner L.D. Burris first heard about the similar rituals from Celtic scholar Michael Newton.

"Certainly L.D. and I knew nothing about it and we thought it was kind of intriguing," says Khalsa, who premiered "Night of Renewal" in 2006 and has conducted workshops and performances of it at Meredith College and other schools since.

"What we did was revisit those traditions, tried to re-envision and think about North Carolina's displaced Scottish highlanders and enslaved African-Americans," she says. "What would their lives have been like?"

The performance moves back and forth from past to present, she says.

"It's sort of a reflection back, like, 'Here we are this sort of mixed family now, going back to pieces of our ancestry.'"

Details: 508-2333 or bwright@peace.edu.

No pet peeves here

If you think dog lovers don't "get" cats, and vice versa, two actors in Raleigh Little Theatre's vampire rabbit tale "Bunnicula" hope to prove you wrong.

Director Kathleen Rudolph notes that dual cat owner J. Michael Beech plays the family dog in the musical, while dog-owner Rebecca Leonard plays the cat. Their auditions reportedly belied their real-life proclivities.

"J. Michael was able to capture that dumb, confused look of a dog, combined with the doglike ability to hear things first before actually seeing," Rudolph says. "And he did a great job of acting excited when his young owner would come into the scene.

"Rebecca is a dancer and so was able to show me the sleek, catlike movements of a cat slinking around. And she did a great bit about finding a flea in her ear."

"Bunnicula" opens Friday and runs through Nov. 23. Details: 821-3111 or www.raleighlittletheatre.org.

Partners in dance

Raleigh's Even Exchange Dance Theater has had some unusual dance partners over the years, from senior citizens to war veterans. This morning and Nov. 13, its partners for a free public workshop are historian (and former N&O contributor) David Cecelski, geologist Daniel Pearson, the Golden Oaks Seniors Program and Enloe High School dance students.

The workshops, titled "Fault Lines: Earth Movers and Shakers," will use movement and memories to explore state history. They'll be at the Raleigh YWCA on East Hargett Street from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Details: 828-2377 or eedt@bellsouth.net.

Another take on Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has had dramatic resonance, not just in politics but also in the arts, where several films and live shows have reflected on the disaster.

This weekend, N.C. Central University joins the crowd, with a staged reading of Stephen Gallagher's play "Bottom of the Ninth."

Shows are Friday through Sunday at the Farrison-Newton Communications Building. Admission is free. Details: 530-6242.

News from the Great White Red Clay Way

Broadway fans pining for the chance to see the Tony-grabbing "Spring Awakening" can get a taste of it in the Triangle this week.

Pop rocker Duncan Sheik, who shared a Tony for best score with lyricist Steven Sater (the show also won best musical and five other Tonys last year), will perform at Durham's Carolina Theatre at 8 p.m. Saturday. Joining him will be "Spring Awakening" original cast member Lauren Pritchard. Details: 560-3030 or www.carolinatheatre.org.

And director John Milne -- better known to Triangle Broadway fans as Mr. Beth "Drowsy Chaperone" Leavel -- is artist-in-residence this semester at Meredith College, Leavel's alma mater. He directed the Jerry Herman musical revue "Jerry's Girls," which runs through Nov. 16 at the Studio Theater in Jones Hall. Details: 760-2840.

Also, Carolina Ballet resident guest choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett has a new project opening Friday in New York: "My Vaudeville Man!" It's based on the life of tap dancer Jack Donahue. If you're in the city, shuffle on down to the York Theatre Company. Details: www.yorktheatre.org.

More N.C.-Broadway ties: Duke alumnus Aaron Lazar is in "A Tale of Two Cities"; fellow Duke alum Heidi Blickenstaff just finished a run in "[title of show]"; Raleigh native and UNC-Chapel Hill grad Julie Foldesi is in "South Pacific"; UNC School of the Arts grad Anna Camp is in "Equus," alongside Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe; fellow UNCSA alum Paul David Story is Radcliffe's standby; UNCSA alumna Missi Pyle is in "Boeing-Boeing"; and Jennifer Ferrin is in "The 39 Steps." Go to www.ibdb.com for details on roles and run dates.

Still more: Garner native Colin Batten is in off-Broadway's quirky percussion-fest "Blue Man Group." And Garner-raised actor Jeremy Woodard, after some false starts on Broadway this year ("Glory Days," which closed the day after opening night, and "Cry Baby," which closed before his replacement stint began, he says) is in off-Broadway's "Rock of Ages," a celebration of '80s rock (www.rockofagesmusical.com). He says the cast is scheduled to appear Nov. 14 on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Flights of imagination

It's rare for a play to incorporate a character with a medical condition in which that condition isn't the focus of the play.

But St. Mary's theater director Madeleine Pabis found such a play for her student actors: "John Lennon and Me."

Based on the book "Good-bye, Best Friend," the play centers on a young Beatles fanatic who has cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease whose sufferers usually die young. The character spends much time in the hospital, where she draws on her imagination and ends up with a roommate she'd never have wished for, a — gasp — pretty cheerleader.

Shows are at 8 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15 and 2 p.m. Nov. 16 at the school's Historic Pittman Auditorium. Details: 424-4063.

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