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Going the extra miles 

Organizers of Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.) raise money to return to Scotland

Support local theater! The importance of this statement can't be expressed enough and in the case of Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.), a musical from Concrete Generation and The Stephen Gordon Group, it's crucial — how else are they going back to Scotland to eat haggis again? I kid. The production premiered in Charlotte back in 2008 and crossed the ocean for a week-long stay at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival in 2009. Now, it's returning to the Q.C. for six shows in order to raise funds for a triumphant return to this year's Fringe Festival.

Miles & Coltrane pays homage to jazz legends Miles Davis (played by Sultan Omar El-Amin) and John Coltrane (played by Quentin Talley) and the pivotal contributions they made to music as a whole. Scenes articulate the duo's musical chemistry and incorporate spoken word and dance. Talley got the idea to participate in Fringe after consulting Tom Gabbard, president of Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, for direction on how to get closer to Broadway. Scotland might be an ocean away, but many acts have made a name for themselves and gone on to bigger things from showcasing there. Since the group got a positive reception during their 2009 visit, they vowed to return in full force.

The work has evolved from its first iteration and continues to transcend. "The beautiful thing about this show is that just like jazz, it's never the same every time. Each time we have a script and everything like that, but each time, it's different. I think the really important thing about this piece is the uniqueness of it," says Kendrea Mekkah, one of the show's nine writers.

Although they've been able to adapt the show, they'd like to present it in its fullest form this year. Their goal is to bring 10 cast members to Scotland, compared to the pared-down cast of five during their last excursion. "Hopefully, we raise enough funds to have the entire cast, which really makes an impact. There is no small part in this show. So, it's really beneficial from a producer/director standpoint that we have the whole cast," Talley says.

Toward that end, the group is presenting performances of Miles & Coltrane: Blue (.) at Duke Energy Theater May 29-June 2. The troupe aims to reach $5,000 to cover the costs of travel. They have already raised more than $900 in Web donations via a crowd-sourcing campaign. To contribute, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/miles-coltrane-blue-on-the-road-to-edinburgh.

"There isn't anything like this out there and also it's a Charlotte-based production," Mekkah says. "I think the fact that we've come together and over these years have been able to push the show forward and unite to really make it significant for the state of North Carolina, is really important."

$25; May 29-31, 8 p.m.; June 1, 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.; June 2, 3 p.m. Duke Energy Theater, 345 N. College St. 704-372-1000. www.blumenthalarts.org.

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