Arts & Culture

Triangle theater: Albee, Shepard, a matinee series

Actors spend a great deal of time making relationships look real.

The stars of forthcoming productions of "True West" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" don't have to. Their relationships are real. But the plays' vicious proceedings might make them wish they weren't.

"True West," directed by Raleigh-born Broadway actress Lauren Kennedy for Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy, stars New York-based siblings Matt and Dan Bogart.

They play brothers Austin and Lee -- one an aspiring screenwriter, the other a criminal -- who are driven to violence by their sibling rivalry.

By casting brothers in the Sam Shepard tale (not an innovation with this play; Randy and Dennis Quaid played the roles off-Broadway), Kennedy was able to move right to its heart.

"It was like a lot of the work was already done," says Kennedy. "There was such a comfort level and trust."

Nicole Farmer and Mark Jeffrey Miller needed that trust, too, before committing to the poisoned marriage of Martha and George in Albee's "Woolf" for their own Party Girl! Productions.

The two Triangle actors have worked together for five years and been a couple for three. Casting a real-life couple isn't new here, either; Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor did it on screen. But look how that ended up.

"Everywhere we go, people are worried for us," Farmer says of the project, directed by Tom Marriott. "The first question is, 'Uh ... how's it going?' with a worried look on their face like they fear this will ruin our relationship."

It won't, Farmer says. But the script's constant battles are exhausting.

"There are scenes where we have to be physically violent -- slapping and those kinds of things, not just verbal," she says. "When you do that on stage, it makes a real emotion come up in you that you have a knee-jerk reaction to."

Talking a lot after rehearsals helps, she says.

"It leads me to ponder sometimes how you could do a play like this with a stranger."

"True West" runs July 2-13 at the Kennedy Theatre in Raleigh's Progress Energy Center. Details: www.hotsummernightsatthekennedy.org. "Woolf" runs June 26-July 12 at Durham's Common Ground Theatre. Details: 240-5398 or www.cgtheatre.com.

'Carol' gets another venue

Theatre in the Park's "A Christmas Carol" will have two shots at redemption this year, thanks to a new deal with the soon-to-open Durham Performing Arts Center.

The popular musical -- adapted by and starring TIP executive director Ira David Wood III -- will run Dec. 5-7 and will be the center's first major theater production. Tickets -- at $21-$77. -- go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at 680-2787, www.DPACnc.com or www.ticketmaster.com. The show then moves to its longtime home, Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh's Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, for shows Dec. 9-17.

Menzel to perform

You'll have to wait until late 2009 to catch "Wicked" at Durham Performing Arts Center. But Tony-winning "Wicked" star Idina Menzel will cast her spell on local fans far sooner. Menzel -- who played the maligned Elphaba in "Wicked" and also played Maureen on stage and screen in "Rent" -- performs at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre July 20. Tickets are $35 and $50 and go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. at the theater or through Ticketmaster at 834-4000 or www.ticketmaster.com.

Aspiring stars

If you want to see aspiring Idinas, head to Fletcher Theater at the Progress Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday for the Performance Edge Summer Showcase of high school and college performers. Tickets are $10. 420-0365. http://www.performanceedge.net.

New matinee series

Theater fans and actors who prefer afternoon treats to late-night treks have a new option: Matinee Readers Theater.

Produced by OdysseyStage, the series will feature $5 midweek staged readings of issue-centered one-acts four times monthly at 12:30 p.m. at Carrboro's ArtsCenter.It'll launch in September, with post-show discussions and pre-show lunch gatherings to encourage community.

They're seeking actors, particularly those over age 50. Auditions, by appointment, are Monday and Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Seymour Center, 2551 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill. E-mail chastern@earthlink.net for appointments.

Monologues sought And local writers can help shape youth theater by submitting a monologue to Peace College Theatre’s Searchlight Project for a performance this fall. The project seeks monologues for college-age actresses on the themes of identity and transitions. Deadline is July 15. Write to kgannon@peace.edu for details.

Taylor-made

Modern dance fans can learn more about Paul Taylor's dance vocabulary at a free lecture and demonstration this month at the Durham County Library.

Dance Ruth Andrien, a former principal dancer with Paul Taylor Dance Company and now a faculty member at American Dance Festival, will talk about Taylor's style. ADF student dancers will demonstrate Taylor-inspired movements.

The lecture will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 29.

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