Fast times at Theatre Alliance

by Mark Burger

Fast times at Theatre Alliance If you missed your own class reunion, Winston-Salem’s Theatre Alliance has the perfect remedy: its latest production. That would be Sheila’s Class Reunion, which will open May 15 at Theatre Alliance (1047 Northwest Blvd., Winston- Salem). If you’ve ever been to one of your own class reunions, then you may feel a tinge of déjà vu as the Class of ’79 of Twin City High School congregate to celebrate their 30th just sparks fly. Tempers flare, old grudges and adolescent lusts are reignited, and long-forgotten rivalries suddenly come to the fore — much to the increasingly exasperated chagrin of the title character, whose best-laid plans for a fun reunion are very quickly dashed. Sheila’s Class Reunion was written by Larry Pellegrini, a member of the Artificial Intelligence troupe, whose greatest creation was the stage hit Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding, which premiered in 1988 and has become one of the most popular interactive stage productions. It’s still going strong in many major cities and has become a huge favorite of community theaters. Like that show, Sheila’s Class Reunion reunion. But when is interactive in the extreme. That’s right this motley collection of geeks, jocks, — the audience is a part of the show, each member a fellow graduate of Twin City High. Feel free to join in the fun, or simply hang back and be a wallflower.

Theshow is also packed with top tunes of the 1970s, including “Turn theBeat Around,” “Knock on Wood,” “Macho Man,” “Shake Your Groove Thing”and the immortal “Super Freak” and performed by the immortal RickJames. Jamie Lawson, the indefatigable artistic director of TheatreAlliance, will once again be at the helm of this show. Sheila’s Class Reunion willrun through May 24. Showtimes are 8 p.m. May 15-16 and 21-23; 2 p.m.May 17 and 24. Tickets are $14 (adults) and $12 (students and seniorcitizens), and reservations are never a bad idea. Due to adult languageand situations, as well as the interactive nature of the show (sinceanything could happen), the show is recommended for mature audiences. For tickets or more information, call 336.723.7777 or see www.

TheatreAlliance will also present what it’s billing as its “Hot as Hell YardSale” on Saturday, May 16, from 7 a.m. to noon. Everybody’s invited tocome by and rummage through the many goodies that will be for sale —many at bargain prices. If you want to participate as adealer, sales spaces are available for $25 and you can sell your ownitems. Or, if you’d like to donate any items to Theatre Alliance forthe sale, call the same number as above: 336.723.7777. *********

Last year, Wesley Taylor graduated from the School of Drama at the UNC School of the Arts. Thisyear, he’s the recipient of an Outer Critics Circle award nomination.Not bad for 12 months’ time! Taylor has been nominated for OutstandingFeatured Actor in a Musical by the Outer Critics Circle for hisperformance in the Broadway production of Rock of Ages, which also earned a nomination as Outstanding New Broadway Musical. Winners will be announced May 11. Rock of Ages, whichis being presented at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York City(following a successful off-Broadway run last fall), is set amidst theHollywood rock scene in the mid-1980s — a time of hopes and dreams,aspirations and ambitions, power chords and power cords, stone-washedjeans and, of course, really, really big hair. The show is filled withmany of the era’s chart-topping hits. (Hey, any show that includesJourney’s “Any Way You Want It” is already ahead of the game, so far asI’m concerned.) Taylor plays Franz, the son of a ruthlessGerman real-estate developer (played by Paul Schoeffler) with designsto demolish the Bourbon Room and the rest of the Sunset Strip in orderto build a new shopping mall. Franz, however, falls under the rock ‘n’roll spell…. Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News calledit “an enjoyable journey…. Factor in a couple dozen feel-good tunes anda rocking band and you’ve got a cranked-up crowd-pleaser.” Originally from Orlando, Fla., Taylor plied his trade at the School of Drama in such productions as Henry IV, adaptedfrom Shakespeare’s classic by Dakin Matthews and directed by GeraldFreedman, the dean of the School of Drama, in which Taylor playedFalstaff. Taylor also played “Action” in the school’s 50 th -anniversary production of the classic musical West Side Story, also directed by Freedman. Taylor’s credits also include The Game of Love, and in the 2007 UNCSA Summer Performance Festival’s productions of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Schoolhouse Rock Live!