VGCC Dinner Theater — press release
Vance-Granville Community College students will be joined by veteran theater actors for the college’s sixth annual Dinner Theater production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a musical comedy, at the end of April.
A collaboration of Vance-Granville’s Drama and Culinary departments, the event is scheduled for the evenings of Thursday, April 26, and Friday, April 27. Dinner will begin at 6 p.m. each evening in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus. Tickets are being sold online for $30 each.
Among the veterans are Brian Westbrook of Durham, who is serving as guest musical director and choreographer while also playing the role of Comfort Counselor Mitch Mahoney; Andy Dickerson of Henderson, portraying Chip Tolentino; and Peyton Grissom of Oxford, who will portray Rona Lisa Peretti.
Westbrook, originally from Henderson, studied piano in Henderson under Angela Scott and Nella Holden and theater under the direction of Dwight Pearce. He spent nine years with Shadowbox Live in Columbus, Ohio, after studying piano at Appalachian State University. He worked as a band leader, vocal coach and choreographer in Ohio in addition to performing.
Since returning to North Carolina in 2010, Westbrook has been busy in the Triangle area as well as locally. He has served as a director for the Henderson Rec Players (HRP), a choreographer for Granville Little Theater (GLT) and has performed in several shows for the Raleigh Little Theater and Theater in the Park, as well as HRP, GLT and the McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center. Westbrook most recently played Corny Collins in McGregor’s production of “Hairspray.” His other roles include Lancelot in Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” Beadle Bamford in “Sweeney Todd” and Cosme McMoon in Theatre in the Park’s production of “Glorious!”
He currently works as a marketing manager for the Association of International Certified Public Accountants in Durham and, for the past six years, has been singing with the Duke Chapel Choir.
“I’m so pleased to have Brian work with us on music and choreography in addition to having him take a role in this production,” observed Betsy T. Henderson, director of this Dinner Theater production who also serves as the department chair for Fine Arts and Humanities at VGCC. “It is Brian’s deeply held belief that theater can and is a catalyst for positive change in the world. Brian’s appreciation of the talent and the passion that this area can boast in theater production gives us energy as we work to provide another outstanding live show for our community.”
Dickerson is a 20-year veteran of the Henderson Rec Players in addition to performances for GLT and Temple Theatre in Sanford. Grissom has performed with both HRP and GLT and currently is serving as a board member for Granville Little Theatre. Employed as a registered nurse at Duke University Hospital in Durham, she is an alumnus of Vance-Granville’s nursing program.
Among the students in the cast from VGCC, some of them dually enrolled at VGCC and Granville Early College High School (GECHS) or Vance County Early College High School (VCECHS), are sisters Allison Hines, a “super senior” at GECHS, and Samantha Hines, a junior at VCECHS, playing, respectively, Leaf Coneybear and Olive Ostrovsky; Brittney Patterson, portraying Logainne SchwartzandGrubeniere, in her last year at VCECHS; and VGCC students Nick Kurtz, who plays William Barfee; Blake Lee, portraying Vice Principal Douglas Panch; and Evan O’Geary, playing March Park.
Winner of the Tony and the Drama Desk Awards for Best Book, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” has charmed audiences with its effortless wit and humor. Featuring a fast-paced, wildly funny and touching book by Rachel Sheinkin and a vibrant score by William Finn, this “bee” is one unforgettable experience, critics have said.
The action in the comedy centers on an eclectic group of six schoolchildren who are vying to win the coveted spelling bee championship. The tweens candidly disclose hilarious, and often touching, stories from their home lives while spelling their way through a series of (potentially made-up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake.
For the occasion, Culinary Arts is preparing a menu featuring meatloaf and vegetables, chicken pot pie and a veggie pot pie in addition to salad and desserts.
Patrons are able to choose the table and specific seats they want at the same time that they buy tickets online. The online link to the ticketing service can be found at www.vgcc.edu/dinnertheater on the college’s website.
— VGCC —
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