Playbill: The week ahead in Triad theater

by Lenise Willis

Soul Crooners coming to National Black Theater Festival.

The big news this week is the National Black Theatre Festival, which will present dozens of exciting shows every day. Visit for a full schedule and more details. A few that I’m excited to seek out include a dance adaptation of Annie, “It’s a Hard Knock Life,” the storytelling festival by NC Association of Black Storytellers, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South, and Sassy Mamas, a romantic comedy about three gracefully aged women who decide to try something a little more exciting: dating hot, young men. My mom, on the other hand, can’t wait to see Soul Crooners 2, which highlights more than 40 hits of the 1970s. All selections are sung by an all-male ensemble. Also new this week, The Academy of Theatrical Arts, located in the Triad Civic Center, is producing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Thursday through Saturday, as the last show of its summer stock theater’s season. The play, which features the very quirky finalists of a spelling bee competition, is light-hearted and hilarious. Angela Daulton, the company director of the new summer stock theatre, said that so far the theater and its first two, and only, shows of the season were very well received and the audiences were “shocked at the amazing talent and the quality of the production.”She also said the new addition is great for the community, especially for local collaboration.”Our casts have consisted of actors from High Point, Burlington, Rockingham, Raleigh and even Virginia,” she said. “I feel like any culmination of the Triad theatre scene is bound to be a good thing.” Next week, Theatre Alliance will perform Nunsense II: The Second Coming, a comedy in which an all-male cast performs as nuns. Also coming soon, Twin City Stage is bringing back the legendary jazz singer, Billie Holiday, in its production of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill Aug. 14-15. The play takes place in a small bar in South Philadelphia, where characters share stories about her life, and revisit her classics like, “God Bless the Child,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” and “Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness.”