By Pete Zamplas
Music of the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, rock band Queen, country star Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley are celebrated on stage at Flat Rock Playhouse next year.
Major musicals are Million Dollar Quartet April 24-May 17, A Chorus Line in its FRP debut June 12-July 11 then West Side Story July 17-Aug. 15. Other main productions include The Hobbit Nov. 13-21, Steel Magnolias May 22-June 6, Catch Me if You Can Oct. 2-17, Helen on Wheels Aug. 28-Sept. 12, and Charlotte’s Web March 13-29.
Season tickets are now available. They save up to 30 percent off regular ticket prices, and come with preferred parking. Tickets for specific shows go on sale Jan. 13.
The upcoming new season and its blend of musicals, dramas, comedies and children’s shows was unveiled publicly Oct. 29 in a 2020 “Season Reveal” entitled Puttin’ on the Hits.
The free preview in the playhouse was co-hosted by four of its main artisans. Producing Artistic Director Lisa Bryant, veteran actors Scott Treadway and Paige Posey, and WTZQ radio personality and Gen. Mgr. Mark Warwick told about each production. They acted out scenes from some of them. Warwick and Posey, who are married, co-host WTZQ’s morning show. The Reveal had plenty of comical banter, also dramatic moments.
The upcoming season offers both familiar and new directions musically. Autumn at the Opry Oct. 23-Nov. 7 honors country legends and their hits. A tradition returns with A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas, which is also this year — Nov. 29-Dec. 22.
Million Dollar Quartet is coming back to FRP, by popular demand in patron surveys, Bryant told the crowd. It was a huge hit for FRP in 2016. The historical musical is about Sun Records’ superstar quartet of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash set in the studio in late 1956.
The FRP cast was powerful, musically and theatrically. Nat Zegree stole the show in ’16 as zany Lewis, and since then has been a FRP favorite for special shows including his one Dec. 9 and 10 with holiday music from across the globe.
Music on the Rock
Presley’s music gets an encore salute May 4-6 via Elvis impersonator Donny Edwards, who often plays at FRP.
The Stones’ music will get a tribute for the first time in the state’s official theater. That is Aug. 20-22 in FRP’s popular Music on the Rock series.
The series starts Feb. 13-23 with music of Queen, has Edwards as Elvis, then Fleetwood Mac April 2-4 in a show named Rumours after the band’s signature album. The finale, Sept. 17-26, entitled Sizzling Summer Nights, honors disco hits.
Music on the Rock consolidated and merged into the main stage schedule, since closing of FRP’s downtown Hendersonville venue two years ago.
Guitarist Bill Altman is in the FRP house band that plays music live backstage for many shows. He has done that for 13 years. He is music director for some productions. He also plays in many Music on the Rock tribute shows.
Altman told The Tribune that for Music on the Rock “some shows are brought in, while we do others.” He said who does which shows is worked out after the season is announced.
Playhouse Downtown’s last Music on the Rock show was up-tempo disco, and the audience danced up a storm, Altman recalled. “It’s touching, how people are getting into the music.” He enjoyed playing guitar on CSNY tunes with Aaron LaVigne, and “working up harmonies” on guitar with Eric Anthony for Air Supply songs.
LaVigne is the Jesus Christ Superstar 50th anniversary tour. L.A.-based Dustin Brayley, who does Beatles and other music for FRP, has recently played in Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Another guitarist who plays at FRP periodically, Ryan Guerra, has done shows in Vegas. Several have Broadway experience.
Altman touts their musical caliber, and that of locally-based musicians they join at FRP such as drummer Paul Babelay. “The lineups are all amazing,” Altman said. “We work with incredible people.”
Altman launched a locally-based tribute show for Pink Floyd music and light shows four years ago. it is called Floyd Philharmonic. He said the nine-piece band has garnered standing ovations. “We really do a good job, to play up to the standard of Music on the Rock and Broadway.”
Its next local show is Friday, Nov. 29 in Greenhouse Moto off N.C. 191 in Mills River. The Moto is a renovated greenhouse of Carolina Roses, decorated with vintage motorcycles.“It’s crazy. Motorcycles are hanging everywhere — from the ceiling, and lining the walls. It’s surreal — like a Salvador Dali painting.”
The current FRP show on The Leiman Mainstage is C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
Contact the FRP box office at 693-0731 for ticket information for playhouse productions.