NC's Triad Stage Has a Grass-Roots Holiday Hit With Beautiful Star

News   NC's Triad Stage Has a Grass-Roots Holiday Hit With Beautiful Star Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity, writer-director Preston Lane and folk musician-performer Laurelyn Dossett's holiday play set in the North Carolina mountains, has returned for a second season at Triad Stage — and it's looking to be a hit all over again.
Michael Tourek as Noah and Carroll
Michael Tourek as Noah and Carroll "Chip" Johnson as God in Beautiful Star. Photo by NyghtFalcon Photography

The Greensboro, NC, resident Equity theatre staged the world premiere in 2006, and it was a sold-out sensation. Performances for the revised remount began Nov. 23 toward a Nov. 27 opening, and "we've already sold out seven of the 30 performances as of [opening night]," spokesman Steven Box told Playbill.com. At the moment, "Beautiful Star 2007 is the fourth highest-grossing show in Triad Stage history." If the brisk sales continue, he said, a box-office record may be broken there by the end of the run Dec. 23.

According to Triad artistic director Lane, several regional theatres have expressed interest in producing Beautiful Star for upcoming seasons. Lane's earlier collaboration with Dossett, Brother Wolf (an Appalachian adaptation of "Beowulf") is also in consideration for future professional and even high school productions.

Both Lane and Dossett were invited to perform songs from Brother Wolf at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 2007 Songwriter's Showcase in Manhattan.

In Beautiful Star, according to Triad, "Reverend Roy Ledbetter and his congregation are back to bring the Christmas story to life in an Appalachian setting with down home laughter, toe-tapping music and a tug at the heart. In the tradition of the medieval mystery plays of Old England, Beautiful Star weaves music, humor and awe together, re-telling great stories from the Bible in a festive gathering of family, friends and faith."

For this season's production, Lane revised parts of the 2006 script. Lane and Dossett are also behind the upcoming Triad show, Bloody Blackbeard. Due to the large number of sold-out performances last December, Triad Stage has extended the run of this season's Beautiful Star with an additional nine performances.

The cast includes returning favorites: Carroll "Chip" Johnson as Rev. Roy Ledbetter, Cinny Strickland as Vestina Ledbetter, James Tunstall as Tidence Ledbetter, Patti Hazlett as Shelly Ledbetter, Penny Hazlett as Myrtle Ledbetter, Junious Leak as Vernon Sparks, Michael Tourek as Franklin Duncan and Brad Brown as Eugene Stoneman; and introducing Erica Honeycutt as Ethel Green and Justin Emmanuel Harrington as Paul Sparks.

The Beautiful Star band comprises Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Andrew Eversole and Stephanie Coleman.

Beautiful Star CDs are on sale in the lobby throughout the run of the production.

The returning design team for Beautiful Star includes scenic designer Branden Tucker, costume designer Kelsey Hunt, lighting designer John Wolf and original sound designer David E. Smith. Joining the team for this production is sound designer Ryan J. Gastelum. The stage manager is Catherine Hagner.

All performances are at Triad Stage's 300-seat thrust stage theatre located at 232 S. Elm Street, in historic downtown Greensboro, North Carolina (between Market and Washington Streets).

For more information, visit www.triadstage.org.

The cast of <i>Beautiful Star</i>.
The cast of Beautiful Star. Photo by NyghtFalcon Photography