Friday, February 28, 2014

Theater review: Flyin' West

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Sidney Horton has done it again. Back in 1999, he directed the area premiere of Pearl Cleage's Flyin' West up in the Attic Theatre of the old African-American Cultural Center on Seventh Street. Now he's piloting the Davidson Community Players' production at their equally cozy Armour Street Theatre - with an equally uneven cast. Results have been satisfying on both occasions, proving once again that the script is well worth doing and that Horton can get optimum performances from the people he's working with.

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Elizabeth Wedding's set design suggests that the Dove household in Nicodemus, Kansas, is decidedly more substantial and conventional than the hovel I remember in the Attic. Perhaps we are all looking differently at 1898 from the vantage point of 2014, but in their wee corner of the Attic, it seemed to me that the Dove sisters and their live-in matriarchal neighbor Miss Leah were struggling to hang on and survive. Spread across the Armour space, in a house that sports a guest bedroom onstage and other sleeping quarters offstage, the Doves now seem to be bent on hanging onto what they already have.

In Nicodemus, a very real town founded in 1878 as a magnet for recruiting former slaves and other African Americans, holding on to what you have meant both real estate and identity. It is a testament to the settlers' success that land speculators are knocking on their doors, yet it is also a reminder of their vulnerability - and the need for solidarity. Sophie, the gun-toting adopted sister of the Doves, understands this well enough, ready to defend the homestead and her more delicate siblings with all her tomboy ferocity.

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First Drip (2/28/14): A possible book banning voted down, the cure to HIV?, more

Posted By on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 at 11:29 AM

The Watauga School Board votes against banning Chilean author Isabel Allende's "The House of the Spirits."

Raleigh wants the CIAA back. No surprise there.

Egypt says it's found a cure for not only HIV, but also Hepatitis C.

Verizon users: Watch out for this new scam that tricks your caller ID.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

This week's BNR Weekly (2/27/14): An interview with Lyfe Jennings, more

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 5:17 PM

On this episode of BNR Weekly, Neiko Debarge interviews R&B singer Lyfe Jennings. They discuss growth, his new album and more. Also, Charlotte-based MC Young Jules meets and greets the students of South Mecklenburg High School, and Neiko talks about Pharrell's hit song, "Happy!"

BNR Weekly is a local pop culture and entertainment Web show, now in its third season.

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Theater reviews: Some Enchanted Evening and Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 5:12 PM

I'd assume that it wasn't an unprecedented phenomenon, but I can't remember the last time I saw two different shows directed by the same person at two different theaters on the same weekend. It happened because I was playing catch-up after sneaking off to New York to see my mom, daughter, grandson, sister, and a baker's dozen of shows. So I caught up with CPCC Theatre's final weekend of Some Enchanted Evening and one of the opening performances of Children's Theatre of Charlotte's Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood.

Isaac Gay and Cassandra Howley Wood star in Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood at Children's Theatre of Charlotte.
  • Donna Bise
  • Isaac Gay and Cassandra Howley Wood star in Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood at Children's Theatre of Charlotte.

Both were directed - and choreographed - by Ron Chisholm with very uneven results. You'll readily guess where my preference lies when you hear that Some Enchanted Evening was an adult musical boasting music by Rodgers & Hammerstein and live musicians while Rouge is a kiddie tuner with book, music, and lyrics by Joan Cushing and a prerecorded score.

Truth is, Cushing and canned music handily trounced R&H because Petite Rouge packaged two key ingredients that Some Enchanted Evening lacked: a story and dancers who could make Chisholm's choreography shine. Furthermore, Chisholm was tasked with injecting electricity into a medley of R&H classics at Halton Theater using the instrumental ammunition of only two pianos. There's a place on CPCC's campus for such an intimate concept - Pease Auditorium, where Enchanted Evening might have been more enchanting.

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Sci-fi's big black hole

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Science fiction movies have a long history of political themes. In these sometimes fantastical, often dystopian futures, questions of individual agency, power and oppression are as common as laser guns and time warps. But for the most part, these themes have been explored in a very limited palette. The future, according to most mainstream science fiction films and books, is overwhelmingly white, and though these vehicles push overtly political messages, they neatly sidestep issues of race by near-total omission. But a growing band of writers, directors and fans are challenging this norm.

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A groundswell of creatives is pushing the genre, reimagining ages of invention and exploration through fully realized black characters and generating crowd-funded support for projects like Invisible Universe, a documentary film on black contributors in science fiction, and Atlanta's annual Steamfunk ball. Locally, the Charlotte Black Film Festival will debut PolySolo: Double Minded Friday, Feb. 28, at the UNC Charlotte uptown building.

Micah Lorick, who has been producing films since 2008, wrote, shot and edited PolySolo in just over a month. He also co-stars as the male lead. The cinematic short, which runs a little over 15 minutes, centers around a female government agent who is tasked with tracking down a terrorist who has discovered a way to travel between alternate worlds. Trouble is, he also happens to be her lover, and in these alternate worlds, nothing is ever exactly what it seems.

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Charlotte Talks about Oscar

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM

The 86th Annual Academy Awards will be held March 2, and as always, local film reviewers will appear opposite host Mike Collins on Charlotte Talks to offer their preferences and predictions in the major races. Creative Loafing film critic Matt Brunson, CinemaBlend.com's Sean O'Connell and Arts a la Mode's Ann Marie Oliva will discuss the various contenders, including American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

This edition of Charlotte Talks will air at 9 a.m. Friday, Feb. 28, on WFAE 90.7 FM. The broadcast will then be archived at www.wfae.org.

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Today's Top 5: Thursday

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Here are the five best events going down in Charlotte and the surrounding area today, Feb. 27, 2014 as selected by the folks at Creative Loafing.

* Charlotte Black Film Festival screening Black Coffee at Studio Movie Grill

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* CIAA Career Expo at Charlotte Convention Center

* Seven Silent Films at Davis Theatre

* Tip-Off Spectacular Day Party at Suite

* Trivia at VBGB

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Opening Friday

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM

The Wind Rises
  • Disney & Studio Ghibli
  • The Wind Rises

Non-Stop - Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore

Son of God - Diogo Morgado, Amber Rose Revah

The Wind Rises - Academy Award nominee: Best Animated Feature

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First Drip (2/27/14): Duke University weighs in on freshman porn star, nutrition labels get a makeover, more

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 9:39 AM

Duke Energy is among the Fortune 500 companies that did not pay taxes from 2008 to 2012.

Duke University weighs in - sort of - on the freshman porn star on campus.

Nutrition labels get a makeover.

Scientists discover 715 planets outside the solar system.

If you get a chance today, check out the polar bear camera.

MARRIAGE = ONE MAN & ONE MAN.

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