CPCC State of the Arts August 2018

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CPCC Summer Theatre 2018 Presents Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap



CPCC’s New Whodunit Has Kept Crowds Guessing for 66 Years

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Between the time that Queen Elizabeth II began her reign and the official date of her coronation in 1953, another queen began her ascent to a regal London throne. Late in November 1952, Agatha Christie brought her murder mystery drama The Mousetrap to the Ambassadors Theatre. By the time the show transferred to the larger St. Martin’s Theatre in 1974, Dame Agatha had long since worn the crown for the longest running show in London’s fabled West End — for both plays and musicals.

It’s been there ever since, making St. Martin’s a London landmark.

click to enlargeSt. Martin’s Theatre (pictured in 2014) has been hosting ‘The Mousetrap’ since 1974. - (Photo by Oxfordian Kissuth)

  • St. Martin’s Theatre (pictured in 2014) has been hosting ‘The Mousetrap’ since 1974.(Photo by Oxfordian Kissuth)

This week, The Mousetrap returns to CPCC Summer Theatre after a hiatus of 37 years. Paula Baldwin, who directs the whodunit, says she saw a production a few years ago in Mint Hill.

Scarcely as popular in Metrolina as it is in the U.K., productions have only appeared on the outskirts of Charlotte since the turn of the millennium, popping up in Davidson during the summer of 2004 and again at Fort Mill in 2008.

“I love the script!” says Baldwin. “The characters are well developed and they all have a secret. In many murder mysteries, the audience knows who the killer is and watches for the climactic moment, but in The Mousetrap, the audience makes discoveries as the characters do, and all of the characters appear to be guilty at one point or another.”

That includes Giles and Mollie Ralston (Andrew Tarek and Lisa Hatt), our hosts at Monkswell Manor. On a snowy night, after listening to radio reports of a murder and a police manhunt, the Ralstons welcome four anticipated boarders to their isolated guesthouse — plus two people they hadn’t bargained for. Mr. Paravicini (Charles Laborde) seeks shelter from the storm after his car has overturned in a snowdrift. That’s his story, anyway. After that, Detective Sergeant Trotter (Cole Pedigo) arrives to investigate, believing that the murderer is somewhere in the house.

Don’t bet against it. Nor should we assume that all the killing is over, especially since — hey, we’re back in the ’50s, and it’s been snowing! — the lights and the phone might go out.

So is it murder and suspense that account for the uncanny success of The Mousetrap? Probably not. Nor is it the notorious pact with the audience not to reveal the final plot twists unique to this mystery thriller.

Ticket sales aren’t completely on autopilot midway into the show’s 67th year. Marketing continues long after some might see its necessity. “The mystery lives on!” proclaims the current poster, evidence that somebody might be up late at night worrying about the future.

Truth be told, reputation and tradition are likely more pertinent to the endless run than mundane marketing. Next to Shakespeare and the authors of the Bible, Christie has sold more books than anyone one else in the history of the planet, the best-selling novelist of all time.

We can safely declare that Dame Agatha benefits from a build-up of goodwill and adoration. Nor was the Queen of Crime a one-hit wonder on the stage. Productions of Witness for the Prosecution and Ten Little Indians are still done.

If there’s a secret ingredient to the success of The Mousetrap, it’s Christie’s charm.

click to enlargeLisa Hatt as Mollie Ralston (left) and Cole Pedigo as Detective Sergeant Trotter. - (Photos by Oxfordian Kissuth)

  • Lisa Hatt as Mollie Ralston (left) and Cole Pedigo as Detective Sergeant Trotter. (Photos by Oxfordian Kissuth)

“Agatha Christie had a lot of fun with this particular play and really pokes fun at murder mysteries with some of the dialogue and actions within the play,” says Baldwin when asked to detect its secret sauce. “I do think that seeing the show in London has become a tradition for tourists, very much like American tourists flock to see shows like Phantom of the Opera or Wicked when they go to New York. Londoners go to see the show when the cast changes or to take their children and later their grandchildren.”

Of course, 37 years after the last CPCC Summer Mousetrap, people who saw the 1981 production might just come back to refresh their memories — with or without kids and grandkids. Baldwin has no intentions of layering on any updates or retrospective condescension, planning to preserve the suspense built into the script and present the snowbound mystery as a period piece.

The new CPCC production will sport a not-so-secret sauce of its own, the 15th collaboration between Baldwin and LaBorde since the two met up at Carolina Actors Studio Theatre in 2008 in the CAST production of Foxfire. It was Baldwin’s Charlotte debut and LaBorde’s first acting gig after retiring from his position as principal of Northwest School of the Arts.

“I feel we clicked immediately,” LaBorde recalls. “We each liked the other’s professionalism and commitment to hard work on the process. She is quite firm but nice. She’s often been a strong positive character in shows we have done together – Foxfire, Metamorphoses, Death of a Salesman, To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Ah yes, but then there are all of Baldwin’s mean and nasty roles in Streetcar Named Desire, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Actress. Maybe meanest of all was August: Osage County, where she usurped the leadership of the Weston family and yelled out at the end of Act 2, “I’m running things now!”

LaBorde has directed Baldwin eight times, if we count Angels in America twice for parts 1 and 2. Mousetrap really will be the first time in their professional relationship that Baldwin is turning the tables and running things.

“It has been an easy transition to acting for her and being bossed around by her,” LaBorde tells us, diplomatically. “I’ve had the good sense to learn my lines, do the blocking she gives me, and keep my mouth shut at other times.”

After getting cast by LaBorde as Blanche DuBois in Streetcar and Martha in Virginia Woolf, Baldwin couldn’t be blamed if she retaliated by casting LaBorde as Christie’s killer. But did she? Baldwin won’t say.

“Everybody is a suspect!” she exclaims.

We can’t get a full confession from LaBorde, either.

“Paravicini is a mysterious character to be sure,” he evades. “He drops in out of the storm unannounced, he speaks with a French accent — peppering his speech with oui’s, charmante’s, and even soupçon. But he has an Italian name, which he appears to make up on the spot. He is clearly worried about the arrival of the police, but his more obnoxious self gets the better of him and sets him in a battle of wits with the detective.”

Cross-examination proves to be fruitless. Even when we ask a trick question, how many people did Paravicini murder, LaBorde answers ambiguously. Asked whether there’s anything we will like about Paravicini, the wily LaBorde finally divulges a hint of a tease.

“He seems to have perverse fun with the subject of murder,” he says wickedly, “always a crowd-pleaser in an Agatha Christie play.”


Get your tickets at the SunTrust Box office 704-330-6534, or online at tix.cpcc.edu 24/7.

CPCC Theatre Announces the Cast of On Golden Pond

CPCC Theatre Announces the cast of On Golden Pond

Norman – Tom Scott

Ethel – Elyse Williams

Chelsea – Amy Dunn

Charlie – Todd Magnusson

Billy Jr. – Stepp Nadelman

Billy Ray – Paul Gibson

Operator – Diane Overcash


Get your tickets at the SunTrust Box office 704-330-6534 or online at CPCCTix

CPCC Theatre Auditions for On Golden Pond

CPCC Theatre will hold auditions for On Golden Pond on February 19 & 20 at 7:00pm in Pease Auditorium. All roles are open. Cold Readings from the script. You do not have to be a current CPCC student to audition.

Rehearsal will begin in late February. Performances run April 6 – 15.

Norman Thayer, Jr.: Nearing his eightieth birthday, Norman is flirting with senility and is aware of it enough to use it to his advantage, usually in a humorous way. He is a curmudgeon, as he feels his age entitles him to be. He is very much in love with Ethel, his wife, but doesn’t quite know what to do about their daughter, Chelsea.

Ethel Thayer: Ten years younger than Norman, Ethel is a spritely, active woman who loves her husband completely and who is in love with simply being alive. She is caregiver, sweetheart, and friend to Norman.

Charlie Martin: The local delivery-by-boat mailman, Charlie is a long-time family friend and a typical Maine down-Easterner. Still single, he has had a life-long crush on Chelsea.

Chelsea Thayer Wayne: Attractive, divorced, and in her forties, Chelsea is still dealing with the lack of closeness between her and Norman. She is engaged to Bill Ray, whom she brings to meet her parents.

Billy Ray: The fourteen-year-old son of Bill Ray, he is a typical California teenager who comes to spend a month with Norman and Ethel on Golden Pond while his father and Chelsea are in Europe.

Bill Ray: Chelsea’s fiancé and Billy’s father, Bill is definitely not the outdoors type. He is trying his best to make a good impression on Norman and Ethel.

Directed by Marilyn Carter.


CPCC Theatre Announces Cast of Evita

CPCC Theatre is happy to announce the cast of Evita.


(in order of appearance)

Che…Ron T. Diaz

Eva…Lucia Stetson

Magaldi…Joel King

Peron…Robert Nipper

Mistress…Leana Guzman


The Company (the people of Argentina)…Jeremy Borja, Cara Cameron, Amelia Cary, Neifert Cornejo-Ordonez, Isaiah Duren, Shane Elks, Karen Erbe, Amber Dawn French, Bailey Greemon, Rick Hammond, Brendan Hanks, Lisaney Kong, Laura Raynor-Williams, Tony Richardson, Hannah Risser, Patrick Stepp, Kelly Trnian, Yessena Whitfield,


The Children…Annabel Lamm, Cavan Meade, Isabella Stetson, Haley Vogel, Atticus Ware, Jeannie Ware


Thanks to everyone who auditioned. We look forward to seeing all of you back at future auditions.

Congrats to CPCC Theatre and Summer Theatre Nominees for Broadway World Charlotte Theatre Awards 2017

We want to congratulate all of our students, faculty and staff who have been nominated for the 2017 Broadway World Charlotte Theatre Awards. Follow this link https://www.broadwayworld.com/charlotte/liveupdate2017region.cfm?btype=1766&region=Charlotte#sthash.oMcXr1BW.h8h2Mnr8.dpbs to vote for your favorites from this past year.

Best Scene Design (local)

James Duke The Bridges of Madison County

Gary Sivak Fiddler on the Roof

Bob Croghan Mamma Mia

Biff Edge A Comedy of Tenors

Best Actor Play Drama (local)

Brian Logsdon Pride & Prejudice

Hank West Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Jonavan Adams Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Tom Scott Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actor Play Comedy (local)

Craig Estep A Comedy of Tenors

Gabe Saienni A Comedy of Tenors

James K. Flynn A Comedy of Tenors

Josh Logsdon A Comedy of Errors

Winston Sims A Comedy of Tenors

Best Actor Musical (local)

Beau Stroup Fiddler on the Roof

Billy Ensley Ragtime

Carson Palmer A Chorus Line

Dakota Mullins James and the Giant Peach

Gabe Saienni The Bridges of Madison County

J. Michael Beech Mamma Mia

Jeffrey Keller Mamma Mia

Johnny Hohenstein Fiddler on the Roof and Ragtime

Josh Logsdon Fiddler on the Roof and Ragtime

Matthew Schulman Fiddler on the Roof

Patrick Ratchford Mamma Mia and Ragtime

Ryan Deal The Bridges of Madison County

Tony Wright A Chorus Line

Tyler Dema A Chorus Line

Tyler Smith Ragtime

Best Actress Drama (local)

Shar Marlin Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actress Comedy (local)

Amanda Becker A Comedy of Tenors

Caroline Renfro A Comedy of Tenors

Taffy Allen A Comedy of Tenors

Best Actress Musical (local)

Annabel Lamm Ragtime

Bailey Rose A Chorus Line  and Mamma Mia

Brittany Harrington Ragtime

Eleni Demos A Chorus Line

Haley Vogel Fiddler on the Roof

Kathryn Stamos Mamma Mia

Lexie Wolfe A Chorus Line

Lucia Stetson  Ragtime

Meredith Fox A Chorus Line

Morgan Wakefield Fiddler on the Roof

Sarah Henkel The Bridges of Madison County

Sophie Lamm Fiddler on the Roof

Susannah Upchurch Fiddler on the Roof and A Chorus Line

Taffy Allen The Bridges of Madison County

Best Director Play (local)

Cary Kuglar A Comedy of Tenors

Corlis Hayes Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Heather Wilson Pride & Prejudice

Best Director Musical (local)

Cary Kuglar The Bridges of Madison County

Todf Kubo A Chorus Line

Tom Hollis Fiddler on the Roof, Mamma Mia and Ragtime

Best Music Director Play or Musical (local)

Amy Boger Morris The Bridges of Madison County

Craig Estep The Bridges of Madison County

Drina Keen A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, Mamma Mia and Ragtime

Jean Colghan Phillips James and the Giant Peach

Best Choreographer (local)

Ron Chisholm Fiddler on the Roof, Mamma Mia and Ragtime

Tod Kubo A Chorus Line

Best Play (local)

A Comedy of Tenors

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Pride & Prejudice

Best Musical (local)

A Chorus Line

Fiddler on the Roof

James and the Giant Peach

Mamma Mia


The Bridges of Madison County

Best Costumer (local)

Barbi VanShaick A Chorus Line and Fiddler on the Roof

Bob Croghan Mamma Mia

Jamey Varnadore ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Ragtime

Rachel Hines A Comedy of Tenors

Best Lighting Design (local)

Gary Sivak A Chorus Line and Mamma Mia

James Duke Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Jeff Childs The Bridges of Madison County

Jennifer O’Kelly Ragtime

Sarah Ackerman A Comedy of Tenors

Best Sound Design (local)

Stephen Lancaster A Comedy of Tenors, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof, ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mamma Mia, Ragtime, The Bridges of Madison County