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Keihin brings back favorites, breaks new ground

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Movement will be only a part of the show Saturday when FLY Dance Company opens the 12th Edgecombe Performance Series at Keihin Auditorium.

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Ross Chandler
Life Editor

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Longtime favorites such as the N.C. Symphony and first-time events such as a play based on a Charles Dickens novel are on the program this season at Keihin Auditorium.

The venue at Edgecombe Community College opens its 12th Edgecombe Performance Series on Saturday with a performance by FLY Dance Company. The show blends movement with an almost pantomime style of acting, all done to music that ranges from Vivaldi to Michael Jackson, said Eric Greene, the college's director of cultural arts.

"The acting they do is not necessarily using prose," he said. "It's more body motions. That has become part of their style."

Before the performance, members of the troupe also will offer a dance workshop and master class for area students ages 10 and older, Keihin's season brochure says.

Tickets for the performance are $20 for adults and $15 for students. The workshop fee is $5.

Among the long-familiar performers returning to Keihin is the N.C. Symphony on Dec. 8.

"The holiday pops concert has become a tradition in Tarboro, featuring wonderful music from the holiday season, the beloved holiday sing-along and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus," the brochure says.

This will be the 10th consecutive year the symphony has performed at Christmas at Keihin. But the ensemble works to keep the program fresh.

"With the N.C. Symphony, it's kind of predictable in that you know it's holiday pops music," Greene said. "But they try to make the program different from last year. There's a wealth of holiday music out there, and they try to draw from it."

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students.

New this year is the production of "Great Expectations," a Charles Dickens novel set in Victorian Britain. The Feb. 16 play will be the first time a Dickens work has been staged at Keihin, and it presents some technical hurdles.

"It's a good piece, a good story," Greene said. "If we can meet the challenges of doing a theatrical work in a space that large as far as the sound is concerned, I think everyone is going to enjoy it."

Performing "Great Expectations" will be the Barter Theatre. Based in Abingdon, Virginia, the troupe has been designated the state's official theater.

"Barter is one of the last year-round professional resident repertory theaters remaining in the United States," the brochure says. "Many well-known stars of stage, screen and television have performed early in their careers at Barter, including Gregory Peck, Ernest Borgnine, Patricia Neal and Ned Beatty."

The performance will be one of two that are free, Greene said, because of sponsorship by the Furman Mathewson Trust of the Edgecombe County Memorial Library.

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Selecting performances for the season requires a cooperative effort, a view of past successes and an eye to shows that might draw new audiences. For instance, Green said of the last, FLY Dance was brought in to appeal to Edgecombe Community College students.

"We base most decisions on experience we've had, and of course, I'm getting information from booking agents constantly," he said.

Money has to play its part, too, a role the Furman Mathewson Trust has helped fill. Greene and the college sometimes offer ideas to the trust, and at others, the trust makes its own proposals.

"It's cooperative. I serve on the Furman Mathewson advisory board. I'm sort of the representative of the college," he said. "If Furman Mathewson is willing to fund it, the administration is certainly willing to present it."

Support also comes from other contributors. The group Friends of the Edgecombe Performance Series offers its support. The series also recognizes donors at several levels: patron for gifts up to $99; director, $100 to $250; producer, $251 to $999; and event sponsors for $1,000 or more. This year, Mathlon W. DeLoatch Jr. serves as an event sponsor, Greene said.

There also are ticket sales. Season tickets are $45.

"That gets them seats to five shows," Greene said. "I think it's probably the best entertainment value in the state."

The other two performances for the season are:

— March 17 — Bill Leslie and Lorica. Leslie, the news anchor for WRAL-TV's morning program, leads the five member ensemble in a Celtic, folk and new age concert. Tickets are $10.

"This is a 10-year return engagement," the cultural arts director said. "We had them in Season Two on St. Patrick's Day."

— April 28 — New York Theatre Ballet. The program likely will be set by early January. The performance is free, the second this season to be sponsored by the Furman Mathewson Trust.

"That seems to have become an annual event," Greene said of what will be the troupe's fifth consecutive performance at Keihin.

All performances are at 7:30 p.m.

Keihin Auditorium is on the college's Tarboro campus at 2009 W. Wilson St.

For information on the Edgecombe Performance Series or for tickets, call 823-5166., ext. 187.


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