Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Two theaters, no waiting!

Sorry for the reference to "The Andy Griffith Show," but Charlotte sometimes seems like a small town, culturally speaking. Yet we're breaking ground this week: For the first time since I came back to the theater beat in 2008 -- and for the first time ever, as far as I know -- a local theater company is giving multi-week productions to two shows at the same time.

Blumenthal Performing Arts has imported or co-sponsored simultaneous productions by other companies at its venues. Various theaters have scheduled benefits or staged readings on dark nights during runs of their big shows. But Carolina Actors Studio Theatre is producing two fully staged  plays at the same time.

"33 Variations," Moises Kaufman's worthy meditation on Beethoven's creativity and the dying musicologist who attempts to explain it, runs through Dec. 23. "Death Tax," Lucas Hnath's comedy about a woman who suspects her daughter wishes to whack her before an inheritance diminishes, runs through Dec. 16. (I haven't seen it yet.) Each features one of the community's strongest actresses: Cynthia Farbman Harris as the musicologist and Polly Adkins as the suspicious matron.

When CAST moved to its new facility at 2424 N. Davidson St. last year, it took over three rehearsal/performance spaces N.C. Dance Theatre had left behind. CAST has rented those out to other tenants and kept up a busy Second Stage series since June, giving those shows space when the main stage was dark.

Now CAST has gotten into the double-production business, risking some dilution of its audience -- or, maybe, hoping that satisfied customers at either play will come back the following week to the other one. I wish them luck.