by Lenise Willis

City Arts Livestock Players will present Big, the Musical at Weaver Academy in Greensboro Thursday through Sunday. The musical is based on the popular Tom Hanks movie about a 12-year-old boy who wakes up as a 30-year-old man. The delightful family musical features new songs and dance numbers, including the classic scene on the giant piano keyboard.

Meanwhile, 50 young actors with Children’s Theatre of Winston-Salem will delve into the sugary world of Willy Wonka Junior at Arts Council Theatre Friday and Saturday.

Also on Friday and Saturday, Theatre Alliance will add a different stroke of color to the stage with its risqué Avenue Q. The laugh-out-loud musical and winner of the Tony Triple Crown for Best Musical tells the timeless story of a recent college grad who moves into a shabby New York apartment and soon discovers that he’s in no ordinary neighborhood. Together, he and his newfound friends struggle to find jobs, dates and the everelusive purpose in life. Performances continue next Wednesday through Sunday, July 24-28.

Next Thursday, Piedmont Opera presents Puccini’s Turandot live in HD film, starring Maria Guleghina and Marcello Giordani. Originally broadcast in 2009, the production is a breathtaking take on Puccini’s last opera and is a favorite of the Met repertoire.

Guleghina plays the ruthless Chinese princess of the title, whose hatred of men is so strong that she has all suitors who can’t solve her riddles beheaded. Marcello Giordani sings Calàf, the unknown prince who eventually wins her love and whose arias include the famous “Nessun dorma.”

Also coming up next week, July 26-28, the City Arts Drama Center will present Shakespeare in the Park, featuring Richard III at 5:30 pm at the Barber Park Amphitheatre. Admission is free with donations accepted.

Richard III follows the demise of one England’s most despised kings, the murder of young princes to maintain the throne and political turmoil created by the War of the Roses. The production is in partnership with the Guilford County Schools and the NC Shakespeare Festival.