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Peter Pan flies high in Lewisville while Moviemakers Rev Up for 48 HOUR FILM FEST

by Mark Burger

Last weekend, the West Side Civic Theatre’s 11 by Mark Burger contributing columnist th season took flight with its production of the JM Barrie classic Peter Pan, under the direction of John S. Rushton, the president, artistic director and founder of the theater, with wife and fellow co-founder Joy Dorsey Rushton playing the title role. The theater presents its productions in the outdoors venue at Shallowford Square in Lewisville, and specializes in large-scale, family-friendly fare. Over the years, such favorites as Beauty and the Beast, Jesus Christ Superstar, Seussical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Oklahoma! have attracted crowds of hundreds.

Looking back on the last decade, “I hoped it would be successful and we thought it could be,” says Rushton, “but it’s been better than I ever thought it would be, and certainly bigger than any of us could have anticipated. The challenge is to keep doing it bigger and better, and that’s what keeps me on my toes.” Peter Pan qualifies on that count. “It has been a huge undertaking,” Rushton says, noting that it’s the biggest and most expensive production ever presented by the theater, replete with a flying rig from ZFX Flying Effects, which is renowned as one of the best in the business. The WSCT production features a cast of 90 actors, selected from more than 200 who auditioned. It was, according to Rushton, one of the largest audition turnouts in the theater’s history, and “gratifying as well as overwhelming.”

Although he has directed himself in numerous WSCT productions, Rushton has his hands full directing so expansive a show as Peter Pan, so he cast Jim Shover as Captain Hook. And with Joy Rushton otherwise occupied playing Peter onstage, Lee Morgan is serving as guest conductor for the musical numbers, “and doing a great job,” added Rushton. “We’re very happy to have her.” In order to maintain operating costs and its ongoing series of special programs, the theater does depend on the kindness and support of the community. In order to supplement the town of Lewisville’s funding and to continue building the theater’s costume collection and scene shop, the theater is currently on a sponsorship and donor drive. The best way to stimulate support, Rushton believes, is by putting on the best show possible. This season is being called the Pirate Summer, with the Gilbert & Sullivan favorite The Pirates of Penzance scheduled for September. Rushton will again be directing, but the casting hasn’t been finalized. “I’m in the midst of directing and sweating and worrying about this show,” he jokes. Peter Pan continues through this weekend. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Concessions are available for purchase. Admission is, as always, free. For more information about the West Side Civic Theatre, see www.westendcivictheatre.com/Home.asp

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It’s that time again. The 48-Hour Film Project gets underway next weekend, with teams of filmmakers from throughout the Piedmont Triad gearing up for another wild and wacky competition. This marks the eighth anniversary of the event and the sixth year that the city of Greensboro has been a host city. This year, some 80 cities worldwide are participating. Thus far, there are more than 25 entrants for this year’s Greensboro event, and there’s still time for teams to get onboard. The entry fee is $155, with the winning team receiving Movie Magic Scriptwriter software and a Kessler Crane — as well as the fame and acclaim that go along with winning. Suzan Magee and Mindy Scott are again serving as Greenboro city producers for the event this year. According to Magee, who participated in the 48-Hour Film Project as a filmmaker before stepping behind the scenes, “Over 2,000 local filmmakers have participated, and over 4,300 people have enjoyed the screenings. As 48-Hour Film Project producers, we want to give local filmmakers a fun way to see each other’s work and come together in a community.” As for the hard work that producing entails, Magee is succinct: “I love this!” The clock starts running this Friday with the kick-off event at 6 p.m. at Studio B (520 S. Elm St., Greensboro). It is there that qualifying teams will get their genre, line of dialogue, prop, etc. — at which point it’s time to start filming! The drop-off will be 6:30 p.m., again at Studio B. All films must be submitted by 7:30 p.m. or else the team runs the risk of disqualification. (It’s happened in the past.) Film screenings will take place 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. June 23-25 at the Carousel Luxury Cinemas (1305 Battleground Ave., Greensboro). Admission is $10. The “Best of the Greensboro 48HFP” will be screened 7 p.m. July 17 at the same theater. For more information, including all the rules, regulations and requirements, check out the official website: www.48hourfilm.com.

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

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