Performing arts abound in Rocky Hill

When planning to see a play, opera, or symphony, the Knoxville venues that come to mind first are likely to be the Tennessee and Bijou Theaters or other places in and around the downtown area. But look a little further and you’ll find a thriving performing arts community in the heart of Rocky Hill.

The Flying Anvil Theater moved to 1300 Rocky Hill Road in 2017 and got up to speed quickly. The Marble City Opera also has an office in the building and sometimes schedules performances there.

Jayne Morgan is a screenwriter, actress, co-founder and artistic director of Flying Anvil, which launched the company in 2012. But she had to find a permanent home before she could get into full-time production. Things had been going pretty well for two years before Covid-19 appeared and brought calm to everything.

“We canceled the 2020 season last March,” Morgan said. “But we didn’t want to just stop, so we decided to try and do some things online. It was exciting and scary, not really knowing what we were doing but making it up as we went along. Everyone participated. There was a lot of joy and panic, but it’s drama in a nutshell.

Now more than a year since the start of the pandemic, Flying Anvil is back to live shows, with Covid precautions in place. The current show is Neil Simon’s classic comedy “The Sunshine Boys”, starring David Dwyer and Steve Dupree. The shows take place Thursday through Sunday from 7:30 p.m. to October 10.

Morgan, from Loudon County, said she was grateful to the donors who helped keep things going while the doors were closed. And while she’s thrilled to have live performances with an audience again, the only way to safely move forward is 50 percent of a 125-seat capacity, with demands of mask and proof of vaccination or recent negative test result.

“I don’t see this as a problem,” she said. “We have developed a clientele that appreciates what we do, and I don’t see them taking care of it.”

Brandon Evans and Kathryn Frady in the Marble City Opera production of “Tosca”.

The same security measures will be in place for the upcoming Marble City Opera show. The solo musical drama “Lily” uses music by Kurt Weill to tell the story of a fictional cabaret singer named Lily Weiss. Created by and starring award-winning mezzo-soprano Audrey Babcock, the multimedia production will be the first performance of the piece outside of its New York premiere. The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. from October 29 to 30 at the Flying Anvil Theater and will also be available to stream.

Kathryn Frady is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Marble City. The Dallas native traveled to Knoxville when her husband, James Marvel, was appointed director of opera at UT. She said the move here was good for both of them as they had spent many years living and working together on the road.

“I love Knoxville, its size, the people,” Frady said. “It is a beautiful place.”

Marble City was able to maintain productions throughout the pandemic, occurring in outdoor and otherwise more open spaces where social distancing could be maintained. In June, his production of “Tosca” was shown at St. John’s Cathedral in the city center, using different areas of the church for the stages.

“We went all over town,” she says. “We have always been nomads and will continue to do so.

Beth kinnaborn is the Community News Editor for KnoxTNToday.com


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MY BIG GAY ITALIAN FUNERAL is coming to the Avenel Performing Arts Center next month

The Avenel Performing Arts Center (APAC), a new multidisciplinary performing arts center located in Woodbridge, New Jersey, presents My Big Gay Italian Funeral from October 7 to 17, 2021.

My Big Gay Italian Funeral is the sequel to “My Big Gay Italian Wedding”. Like the wedding, the funeral was also published and authorized by Samuel French and performed in several cities around the world. The funeral was held for more than two years on Off-Broadway at New York’s St. Luke’s Theater in front of a mostly sold-out audience.

Created by three-time Emmy Award winner and APAC’s own Executive and Artistic Director Anthony J. Wilkinson, My Big Gay Italian Funeral picks up where “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” left off, with the funeral of Anthony’s father, Joe. Anthony reunites with his gay brother Peter Pinnunziato, who he hasn’t spoken to for over a decade. Family drama and crazy characters unite on the APAC stage.

The cast of My Big Gay Italian Funeral includes Anthony J. Wilkinson (Antoine), Brandon Goins (Peter), Laurie Kirk (Angela), Alexa Harris (Ondine), Debra Toscano (Aunt ToniAnn), Tricia Gozzi (Lucia), Marissa Paoella (Maria), Geri Rosetti (Aunt Donna), Marta (Vidalia), Anthony Pampalone (Ezio / Lou), Nick Barbati (Howie), Anida Tension (Maurizio / Diamondelle) , Taso Mikroulis (Dominick), and Sonia blangiardo (Director).

Times of my great gay italian funeral show
October 7, 2021 – 8:00 p.m.
October 8, 2021 – 8:00 p.m.
October 9, 2021 – 8:00 p.m.
October 10, 2021 – 3:00 p.m.
October 13, 2021 – 2:00 p.m.
October 14, 2021 – 8:00 p.m.
October 15, 2021 – 8:00 p.m.
October 16, 2021 – 8:00 p.m.
October 17, 2021 – 3:00 p.m.

Tickets: $ 49.50
Box office: (732) 314-0500
The Avenel Performing Art Center is located at 150 Avenel Street in Avenel, New Jersey (located in the Township of Woodbridge). To purchase tickets, visit www.avenelarts.com or contact the box office at (732) 314-0500.

At the Avenel Performing Arts Center, the health and well-being of patrons, artists and staff is our top priority. APAC has taken the necessary precautions in the cleaning and sanitation procedures at our site. As you know, this situation changes daily, and we are doing our part to keep abreast as protocols and procedures are adjusted to ensure the safety and health of our community. We thank you for your understanding.


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BPCC PERFORMING ARTS THEATER WINS THE GREATEST HONORS FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER AMERICAN COLLEGE THEATER FESTIVAL

The Bossier Parish Community College’s drama program production of tense and suspenseful drama, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was honored with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) awards.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were selected by the official KCACTF referees to be considered for the annual Region VI festival. This recognition places Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde among a small limited number of nominees out of which five pieces from the region will be selected to be presented at the Region VI KCACTF Festival in February 2022. Dr Ray Scott Crawford, Dean of Communication and Performing Arts , directed the production and the Cavalier Players produced the show which was presented at the Stephen W. Slaughter Theater in Bossier City.

The cast members received the “Excellence in Ensemble Scene Change” award for their performance in transitioning sets from scene to scene.

Technical Director David White won three meritorious awards for his work in stage design, lighting design and prop art.

The cast members also received individual awards. For excellence in acting, Josue Escobar, John Medlin and Candice Lott received Irene Ryan nominations for their roles as Henry Jekyll, Sir Danvers Carew / Hyde 2 and Poole / Hyde 4. The three students will now be competing with approximately 400 other Region VI students for a chance to win the Irene Ryan National Scholarship and participate in the KCACTF National Festival in Washington DC

Other cast members Cason Smith and Sarah Johnson earned Irene Ryan nominations for their performances in the spring production, The Good Doctor. They too will participate in the KCACTF Region VI festival for the chance to win the Irene Ryan National Scholarship.

BPCC Theater graduate Zachary Tyler also participated in the production. The show’s technical team included Kendall Reynolds as stage manager and Sarah Foster as assistant stage manager.

The KCACTF encourages, recognizes and celebrates the finest and most diverse works produced in university and college theater programs across the country. Region VI includes Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri, and New Mexico. Five plays will be chosen from this six-state region to perform at the Region VI festival in February 2022.


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