The N.C. Theatre has been bringing melodious drama to the Greater Raleigh area since 1984 and this year will celebrate its 30th season gracing the stage. Founded with the vision of producing major Broadway musicals and revitalizing downtown Raleigh, the N.C. Theatre continues to pursue its vision to preserve the unique American art form of musical theater. It has become the largest nonprofit performing arts company in the state.
President Lisa Grele-Barrie, who joined N.C. Theatre in 2003 and became CEO in 2009, thinks one of N.C. Theatre’s most notable attributes is that it does not import its actors. “We have a unique mix of local and professional cast members. N.C. Theatre casts locally but also uses equity actors from Broadway, creating a strong blend of talent,” Grele-Barrie said.
This means that while every musical production has the star power of seasoned Broadway performers, the shows also feature the talent of up-and-coming local and regional stars discovered at open casting calls.
Grele-Barrie takes pride in the full orchestra that is maintained by the theatre, bringing the lush sound of professional live music to every performance. N.C. Theatre also tailors its repertoire based on audience preference, balancing its schedule with already well-loved Broadway shows and other musical theater and pre-Broadway productions.
In the recent past, N.C. Theatre has produced Legally Blonde The Musical, Oliver!, Steel Magnolias, Les Misérables and A Christmas Story. Productions are performed at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.
Presently, the theatre is staging Nerds, A New Musical Comedy, a ridiculously witty show based on the birth and rise of personal computer technology, and the modern geniuses behind the computer revolution, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. The story begins back in 1975 with two nerdy garage inventors, exploring ideas and creating gadgets. Against a dazzling “computer circuit board” created from dozens of brilliant LED screens, the plot follows the lives of Jobs and Gates as they rise up through the ranks from geeky computer nerds to famous billionaires, satirizing the subsequent war between their rival companies, Microsoft and Apple. With energy and humor, the nerds spontaneously burst into song as they transform into modern-day tech heroes and pop culture icons.
Raleigh’s N.C. Theatre production of the show marks Nerds’ premiere and its first performance before a live audience. It is a “pre-Broadway” show, and the City of Oaks will serve as a trial run. Nerds Producer Carl Levin hopes later to take the show to New York and eventually abroad to international audiences.
Nerds: A New Musical Comedy runs from Jan. 18 through Feb. 2. For tickets call 800.745.3000 or visit nctheatre.com. Plan ahead to buy your tickets to N.C. Theatre’s next production: Monty Python's Spamalot.