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Theater excites community with Final Friday events

by Lenise Willis

BY LENISE WILLIS | lenise@yesweekly.com

If you catch yourself confusingly wandering in downtown Greensboro caught up in the immense amount of traffic, strolling pedestrians, vendors and booming music, then you may have stumbled into town for First Friday. Now attempting a similar tactic to draw a crowd, High Point celebrates Final Friday.

North Carolina Shakespeare Festival began the new monthly entertainment series in April. It continues with the next event taking place Friday, July 27.

Final Friday, sponsored by High Point Bank, features a main event for a small fee, and takes place on the last Friday evening of each month at the festival’s headquarters, Spirit Center, located at 807 W. Ward Ave.

“We wanted to host a regular monthly entertainment event here at Spirit Center, something that people knew would always be on the same day each month,” said Sara Butner of NCShakes. “There are First Friday events in both Winston-Salem and Greensboro, so we decided to have something on the last Friday of the month. Nekkid Feet, which performs frequently in Winston-Salem, will be the main performer through September, at least. In the future we’ve talked about having the entertainment be anything from live music, to a film screening, to a car show.”

Final Friday is another example of how theaters branch out beyond simply putting on shows, to reach out to the community. In fact, many local theaters are running summer camps for children and sponsoring children’s productions, as well as working with the local school system.

With a similar goal of attracting more attention to the theatre, NCShakes says it also created Final Friday in order to offer more low-cost entertainment options in High Point so that locals won’t always have to drive to Greensboro or Winston-Salem.

Also, by starting early enough in the evening, the hope is that participants will then venture out to bars and restaurants in High Point, drumming up business in the city.

“In addition to the festival’s world-class theater productions and educational programming, we want to lead the way in offering other activities for people in High Point to enjoy,” said NCShakes President and CEO Wil Elder. “Nekkid Feet, for instance, is something new and different in this area, and we think that this will have wide appeal — particularly to the young professionals who are looking for things to do closer to home.”

Nekkid Feet, an improv comedy group which entertained at the center’s first Final Friday event, will again perform.

“Visitors can expect to laugh — hard,” Butner said. “Nekkid Feet has a series of improv games or set-ups, many of which need interaction from the audience. For instance, they might ask the audience to name an occupation, or a country, or even an animal, and that suggestion forms the basis of their sketch.

“There are a couple of games that involve one or two audience members going up on stage to participate in the act. But, if someone would rather stay out of the spotlight and just enjoy the show, there’s no pressure to get involved.”

TJ Walker of Nekkid Feet said their interactive style of performing, where the troupe improvises routines based on suggestions from audience members, reminds many viewers of the hit TV show “Whose Line is it, Anyway?”.

“We like to run a PG-13 show — innuendo and double entendre — but we don’t go too blue,” Walker said. “We keep our audience entertained without performing in the gutter.”

WANNA go?

Final Friday occurs at the NCShakes Spirit Center, 807 W. Ward Ave. High Point, July 27 from 7:30-9 p.m.; doors open at 7 p.m.. Parking is available on site. The event is limited to ages 18 and up. Admission is $10 at the door, with beer, wine and other refreshments available for purchase. For more information visit www. ncshakes.org or call 336.841.2273.

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