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Feature: The tradition continues at CFRT for 2021-2022


By Kim Hasty

Photography by Cindy Burnham

Just another brick in the wall? No, at least some of these are more like works of art. And you might never know they were there.

Over the last couple of decades, cast members from most of Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s productions have selected a single brick in one of the off-stage dressing rooms. And they’ve made it their own. They’ve signed their names, doodled, sketched and painted, and some have gone to impressive, colorful lengths to leave behind a memory. “It’s kind of a theater tradition,” said Ashley Owen, CFRT’s marketing director. “You could stand in here for hours and really look at them.”

There are elaborate depictions of the iconic “Miss Saigon” helicopter and a whimsical Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof.” “The Little Mermaid’s” tail flips off into the sea and the armored cast from Monty Python’s “Spamalot” peeks over a castle wall. The signature of founding artistic director Bo Thorp is “all over the place,” Owens said. Ben Miller, who played a slew of suspects in the theater’s most recent production, “Murder for Two” added a caricature of himself and co-star Trace Poole despite the fact that their performances took place off-site due to ongoing renovations at CFRT.

The recently announced lineup for the theater’s 60th anniversary 2021-2022 season promises to offer spectacular opportunities for more works of art on those bricks. Including one brick likely to be painted yellow.

“After a challenging year and half, we are thrilled to be returning to the mainstage with this incredible line up of shows,” said artistic director Mary Kate Burke. “The 21-22 season will be a magnificent celebration of the theatre’s return to indoor performances and the community who supported us through the last year, ensuring that we not only survived the pandemic, but thrived. “With the renovation complete in October, we can’t wait to welcome our audiences back with a customer experience that matches the quality of the
award-winning work on our stage.”

The jukebox musical “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” is scheduled to kick off the season and run Oct. 14 through Nov. 7), followed by the 30th anniversary production
of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” Dec. 3-19. The classic “The Wizard of Oz” is scheduled Jan. 20-Feb. 13, followed by the hip-hop coming-of-age-story “Welcome
to Arroyo’s” March 10-27. “Clue: On Stage” is scheduled to follow April 7-24, and the season finale is set to be the Tony-award winning musical “The Color Purple” May 5-29.

CFRT’s ongoing interior renovation of the theater is scheduled to be completed in time for the first production in October. The renovations include new, wider seats, five inches of additional legroom per row, a new HVAC system with fresh air intake, handrails from top to bottom of the theatre and cupholders at every seat. A new sound system, designed by award-winning sound designer Rob Kaplowitz is expected to ensure a quality sound experience throughout the theater.