Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts. Menconi's latest book, "Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk," was published in Oct. 2020 by University of North Carolina Press, and his new podcast, Carolina Calling, explores the history of the Tar Heel State through music.



Raleigh Little Theatre is about to begin its 2022-23 season with high hopes, but in some ways its goals are modest. One example is the Jane Austen romantic comedy, Pride and Prejudice. The show is currently slated to run from Sept. 16 to Oct. 2, the third time in the past two years that “Pride and Prejudice” has been on the schedule. So will this third time finally be the charm?

“We certainly hope so,” says Raleigh Little Theatre executive director Heather J. Strickland with a laugh. “It’s been canceled twice, including last January when the variant was really hitting and we decided that inside productions were not safe. So we’re still thinking through how to do things, like not having intermissions to limit the amount of time crowds are milling around.”

 

There are other safety protocols in place in acknowledgement of the continuing pandemic, the most notable being that Raleigh Little Theatre still requires attendees to wear masks at indoor events. Also, should the pandemic worsen again, moving some more shows outdoors to the complex’s Stephenson Amphitheatre is an option. But management hopes not to have to resort to that.

This season has a theme, optimistically titled Stepping Forward!, and it is very much informed by the pandemic-related events of the past few years. Raleigh Little Theatre artistic director Patrick Torres wrote in a statement that the season’s productions will “feature characters who must find the courage, determination and hope to step forward,” whether it’s “finding true love, challenging tradition or winning a prize that could lift them out of their struggle.”

 

“I think it’s a season filled with a lot of hope and joy,” says Strickland. “All of us are certainly wondering, will this be the season where we’re finally back? With the theme of Steping Forward!, it’s pretty representative of what we’ve all been through the past two years—not only stepping into uncertainty and risk, but also into the learning and growth we have done and need to continue in order to do better as an inclusive organization. This season needs to tell our collective story as well as highlight individual stories.” 

 

Raleigh Little Theatre's 2022-23 season: Stepping Forward!

 

Four-Show Series

  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Aug. 11-20, 2022 (musical; Stephenson Amphitheatre)
  • Pride and Prejudice, Sept. 16-Oct. 2, 2022 (romantic comedy; Cantey V. Sutton Theatre)
  • Blood Wedding, Jan. 27-Feb. 12, 2023 (folk tragedy; Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre)
  • Hands on a Hardbody, June 2-18, 2023 (musical; Cantey V. Sutton Theatre)

 

Family Series

  • The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs, Oct. 22-30, 2022 (comedy; Stephenson Amphitheatre)
  • Fancy Nancy: The Musical, March 17-26, 2023 (musical; Cantey V. Sutton Theatre)
  • My Wonderful Birthday Suit, May 5-21, 2023 (young audiences; Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre)

 

Specialty Productions

  • Xanadu, July 22-31, 2022 (Teens on Stage/Teens Backstage Production; Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre)
  • Cinderella, Dec. 2-18, 2022 (holiday musical; Cantey V. Sutton Theatre)

 

Tickets, ranging from $13 to $27, are on sale now for all of the above shows at raleighlittletheatre.org.

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