PITTSBORO — What do you get when you combine an unfinished, dusty old room in a textile mill with Shakespeare, 1920s songs, and 35 people willing to put in hundreds of hours of work? An original musical comedy so immediately popular that folks from inside and outside the community found themselves clambering to find tickets for sold-out shows!
Such was the case in April for two weekends at the old Chatham Mills building in Pittsboro for “Dreamland, A Musical,” performed by CCCC and Chatham community actors and adapted by local playwright Drew Lasater.
Most anywhere you find college theater students performing a show, they are doing so as part of a theater department, in a bona fide theater, with a technical staff to provide lighting, sound, costumes, set, and box office. Not so in Chatham county. Central Carolina Community College theater production students and guest actors, musicians, artists and technicians from Chatham county and neighboring communities defied the odds once again and provided quality theater in an unorthodox space where they have built their own stage and audience seating.
The core of the performers were enrolled in a single class at CCCC, play production. After selecting a show that fit that group, instructor/director Ellen Bland and playwright/assistant director Drew Lasater added others from the community, as well as returning NYC music director Creighton Irons, originally from Chapel Hill, to create a production that they tout as “full of ownership on the part of all involved.”
Lasater adapted “Dreamland” from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” by setting it in the 1920s jazz age and incorporating songs from the early part of the twentieth century that fit moments in the show or characters and singers. Irons arranged the songs to allow the “fairy realm” of the script to incorporate rock and punk sounds, while keeping the “mortal” songs true to their roots.
Community support was strong. After the April 8-10 shows concluded, the April 14-17 shows’ tickets were scooped up in a few days. Audiences continued to provide praise, and largely through social media, the show quickly built a reputation as “top notch,” and “engaging every minute.” Despite folding chair seating and some peering around steel girders and poles to see the stage, audiences concluded each show with standing ovations and kudos to performers, as well as to the sound and lighting technicians who overcame great challenges to make the production work.
For more information about Central Carolina Community College’s theater classes, contact Bland at (919) 545-8016 or firstname.lastname@example.org