Theatre Alliance goes back in time

by Mark Burger

It was the decade known as the 1980s and, heaven help me, it was the decade that I came of age. In a lot of ways, actually, I’m not sure I ever left…. When I think of the 1980s, I think of many things, including the Philadelphia Phillies winning their first World Series in 1980 and Gene Hackman picking up a 1988 Oscar nomination as best actor for Mississippi Burning. Little did I know that the 1980s would also be the last decade — until this one — before Philadelphia would win another championship.

I could get into the whole issue of turning 17 and being able to get into R- rated movies, or of being of legal age to order an alcoholic beverage but, much to the chagrin of many (least of all myself), I was seeing R-rated movies long before that. As pivotal as these events were in my life, none of them are remotely depicted in Theatre Alliance’s latest production, Back to the ’80s: The Totally Awesome Musical! — and that’s a good thing. First of all, because this is a family-friendly production. That’s right, you can bring the kids. They can experience for themselves just what the 1980s sounded like, and perhaps gain a better understanding of why mom and dad are the way they are. Instead of my pathetic past, audiences are treated to a selection of the decade’s most popular tunes — “Footloose,” “Material Girl,” “Kids in America,” “Love Shack,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go,” “Time of My Life,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which for you trivia buffs was the first music video that premiered on MTV — as well as many more. (Alas, Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” — one of my favorite ’80s tunes — is not on the play list, but you can’t have everything!) This hit musical by Neil Gooding, featuring additional material by Stuart Smith and revised orchestrations and arrangements by Brett Foster, is an original musical adaptation by Scott Copeman. That’s a lot to remember, so that’s why I wrote it. Jamie Lawson, the indefatigable artistic director of Theatre Alliance, will (as usual) be directing the production. So, if you remember the 1980s and if you revere the 1980s — either/or, it’s all the same — Back to the ’80s is a wild and wacky (and tune-filled) way to relive the daze of the Reagan era… and what a daze it was! Showtimes are 8 p.m. April 16-18 and 23-25, 2 p.m. April 26. Tickets are $16, $14 (students and seniors) and $12 (children 12 and under). Group rates are available, and it never hurts to make reservations. Need a miracle ticket for the show? Just dial 336.723.7777 or check out www.


The Revolve Film and Music Festival has joined forces with the Weatherspoon Art Museum for a special screening of producer/director Megumi Sasaki’s feature debut, the award-winning documentary Herb and Dorothy, which will be screened 7 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the museum, which is located on the UNCG campus at the corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets in Greensboro. The film focuses on Herb and Dorothy Vogel who, on the respective salaries of a postal worker and a librarian, begin to collect modern art in the 1960s. As the years passed, the collection grew — to the point where it is one of the largest, most extensive private collections of modern art in the United States, totaling more than 4,500 pieces! Not surprisingly, this incredible collection also began to overwhelm the Vogels’ small New York apartment, which they’ve lived in for more than 45 years. Although the Vogels had loaned selections to various museums and exhibitions, they’ve never sold a single piece from their collection. In 1990, however, they donated the collection to the National Gallery in Washington, DC. The move required five full-sized moving trucks and a considerable amount of delicacy given how rare many of these works were. The film won the audience award at both the 2008 Silverdocs Documentary Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival, as well as the Golden Starfish Award at the latter. This marks its North Carolina premiere. In an e-mail, Revolve festival founder Shalini Chatterjee noted that “Herb and Dorothy is really worthy of attention because it’s a movie about art for anyone, even people not particularly interested in modern art. Because of its accessibility, it could get people interested in art and film who weren’t before. It’s a cool thing.” For more information about this screening, or about any of the goings-on at Revolve, call 336.722.8238 or check out their website:

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