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Family fun with the Children’s Theatre and shining stars at UNCSA

by Mark Burger

The Children’s Theatre of Winston- Salem has concluded yet another successful season but there’s still a chance to catch one more, fun-filled family show: The Little Theatre’s ACT Program production of Whacked Fairy Tales, which will be presented 7 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday in the Arts Council Theatre (610 Coliseum Drive., W-S). This “revisionist” presentation, which features any number of classic fairytale characters — Sleeping Beauty, Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood and, of course, the Big Bad Wolf, to name a few — offers some slap-happy, slapstick (and slap-shtick) twists on the old favorites, but in an affectionate way. A cast of over 60 actors will participate in the production, which is aimed at ages 5 and up — which pretty much includes everybody. Tickets are $5. For more information, call 336.748.0857 x.204 or check out the theater’s official website: www.childrenstheatrews. org/index.htm. And, incidentally, keep in mind the Children’s Theatre’s birthday party packages, which have become very popular and are a unique way to celebrate a child’s birthday in a theatrical atmosphere. There are three different options — the Playtime Party, the Scripted Play Party and the Full Service Option. All birthday parties will be held from noon to 2 p.m. at the Arts Council Theatre, and space is limited to two parties per Saturday. If interested, please give the Children’s Theatre at least three week’s notice for a reservation (a $100 deposit is required). Final payment is due the Wednesday prior to the Saturday party. All the details, including a full description of each party option, can also be found on the website (above). •••

The Fly by Night Theatre Company’s production of Something Strange: 7 New Works, will open Friday in the City Arts Studio Theatre, located in the Greensboro Cultural Arts Center (200 N. Davie St., Greensboro). The selection of short plays includes works by Kim Moore, Chris Tilley, Britt Hawkins, Laurel Ullman, Axel Tolksdorf and award-winner Tommy Trull. A team of four directors (Rachel Downey, Amanda Waterhouse, Alec Lewis and Ullman) and 13 actors have joined forces to bring this presentation to life. Something Strange will run through Sunday. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday- Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Amission is $10, students admitted for $5. For tickets or more information, call 336.624.5624 or e-mail flybynighttheatre@yahoo.com ••• Wake Forest University might have gotten the Vice President of the United States to deliver its commencement address earlier this month, but has Joe Biden ever won a Tony Award? Tony Award winner and Emmy Award nominee Kristin Chenowith will be delivering the commencement address this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the UNC School of the Arts graduation ceremony at the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem. Chenowith earned her first Tony Award in the Broadway revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown then a subsequent nomination for originating the role of Glinda, the Good Witch, in the Broadway smash Wicked. Other important stage roles include the Broadway comedy Epic Proportions, the Kander & Ebb musical Steel Pier (which earned her a Theatre World Award), and the Roundabout Theatre Company’s off-Broadway production of Moliere’s Scapin. Recently she appeared in the Roundabout’s limited-engagement run of The Apple Tree at Studio 54. As her stage credits indicate, Chenowith is also an accomplished singer. She performed a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall in 2004; performed Bernstein’s Candide at Lincoln Center, backed by no less than the New York Philharmonic; and has released a number of albums, including Let Yourself Go, As I Am and her recent holiday album, A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas. In addition to her exceedingly busy performance schedule, Chenowith has written her autobiography, A Little Bit Wicked, which chronicles her upbringing in Oklahoma to her more recent string of career successes. On the big screen, Chenowith has been seen in The Pink Panther, Deck the Halls, Bewitched, Running With Scissors, Stranger Than Fiction, the Robin Williams vehicle RV (in which she and onscreen husband Jeff Daniels are the only high points of an otherwise desultory comedy), and opposite Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon in the hit comedy Four Christmases. She also contributed voiceover performances to Space Chimps and Disney’s animated Tinker Bell (a role she is scheduled to reprise in the upcoming, direct-to-DVD sequels). Displaying her versatility, She will next be seen in a dramatic role as an emotionally damaged, suicidal hooker in screenwriter/ director Patrick Coyle’s independent drama Into Temptation.. On the small screen, Chenowith has appeared in the ABC-TV movie version of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, “The West Wing,” “Annie,” “Sesame Street” and “Ugly Betty.” She headlined her own NBC- TV situation comedy, “Kristin,” in 2001, was unfortunately lasted only 11 episodes, and she earned an Emmy nomination for her role as Olive Snook on the critically-acclaimed but recently-canceled ABC-TV comedy “Pushing Daisies.” She is currently the voice of science teacher “Miracle Grohe” in the FOX animated comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up.” Despite her success in film and television, as well as her burgeoning concert career, Chenowith has always found time to return to the stage and, frequently, to reinvent herself with each new role. “Kristin Chenowith has been a friend and colleague for many years,” said John Mauceri, the Chancellor of UNCSA in a statement. “We have performed together on many occasions and I was especially honored that she sang at my very last concert with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. I do not know any artist with whom I have performed who has been a better colleague. She is a brilliant musician, a committed actor, and a truly radiant and good person who shares her talents and her great big heart with everyone she encounters.” She also happens to be a knockout, as anyone who saw her tempting photo in Allure magazine a couple of years back can certainly attest. Talented, versatile, gorgeous… dig it! The commencement address for the UNCSA high-school graduates will be delivered at 9 a.m. by award-winning playwright and School of Drama alumnus JT Rogers. Rogers hasn’t posed for Allure (yet, anyway), but has also unquestionably proven himself as a versatile and talented wordsmith. He graduated from the UNCSA School of Drama in 1990 and is the author of such works as Madagascar (not to be confused with the animated films!), White People (which recently ended its off-Broadway run), The Overwhelming and Murmuring in a Dead Tongue. His plays have been staged throughout the US and now internationally. His play Blood and Gifts is currently on the boards in London. Rogers’ plays have won numerous awards over the years, including the Pinter Review Prize, the M. Elizabeth Osborne Award, the William Inge Center for the Arts New Voices Award, and the Blanche and Iving Laurie Foundation’s Theatre Vistions Award. He has also twice been the playwriting fellow from the New York Foundation for the Arts (in 2004 and again last year). Currently working on new (and undoubtedly exciting) plays, Rogers lives in Brooklyn with his wife, fellow UNCSA alumnus Rebecca Ashley (School of Dance) and their son, Henry. Both Chenowith and Rogers will also receive honorary UNCSA doctorates during the ceremony.

To comment on this story, e-mail Mark Burger at marksburger@yahoo.com.

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