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Donât expect to see âDeadly Murderâ onstage at Hickory Community Theatre in the Firemenâs Kitchen. Instead, be prepared to listen to an eclectic mix of musicians. Be prepared to laugh and then laugh some more at improv. Be prepared to wonder at the world of illusion.
The Festival of the Performing Arts replaces âDeadly Murder,â and for the next five weeks musicians, actors, comedians and magicians will perform in HCTâs cabaret theater â the perfect venue for the festival that is scheduled from April 21 through May 13.
HCTâs Managing Director John Rambo said there is a wealth of talent â beyond theater productions â in the area.
âWe decided to cancel âDeadly Murder,â and we didnât want to sit dark for the period,â Rambo said. âThe festival features musicians, actors, comedians and magicians. Most of the talent is from the area, with some artists of national reputation.â
The first event of the festival kicks off Saturday, April 21, with âHickory Scene,â a three-band musical extravaganza based out of Hickory consisting of Casey Clark, Leaving Venus, and Onna. The bands got to know each other after seeing each other perform at The Main Cellar City Clubâs open mic night in downtown Hickory.
âThe solo and two bands are performing all original music and all local,â Rambo said. âEach band has different styles that mesh in a unique way to create interesting shows.â
Casey Clark grew up in rural North Carolina in a 100-year-old farm house surrounded by family greenhouses and colorful plants, where he fell in love with melody. Throwing a guitar into the mix, he immediately started creating, writing about the people he met and the relationships he formed to communicate what he was feeling. Visit www.caseyclarkmusic.com
Leaving Venus combines strong grooves, dynamics and catchy song writing to create a sound that has everything that a music fan needs. Fusing blues, funk and rock, the power-trio created a sound all their own. Thereâs something about a strong trio that cannot be captured in a large band, like a finely tuned sports car with no extra baggage. Itâs that raw sound, vulnerability, and connection that Leaving Venus fans love. Band members are Chris Cornwell, Thomas Grell and Michael Miller. Visit www.leavingvenus.com
The story of Onna is a spiritual one. In a day when people are so easily distracted, the hopes and dreams that we all aspire to fulfill seem to be laid to rest before they are even pursued. The music of âOnnaâ is here to serve as a reminder that hope is not lost. Based out of western North Carolina, Onna consists of vocalist and songwriter James Matthew Taylor, drummer Bryan Ledbetter and bassist Pete Small. Visit www.onnamusic.com.
Two nationally recognized artists, one band and one solo performer, in the alt-country music genre perform Friday, April 27, at 8 p.m.
Arthur Alligood, grand prize winner of the 10th Annual Mountain Stage New Song Contest in 2011, shares the bill with Farewell Milwaukee.
Alt-country, or alternative country, is a musical sub-genre that has been sweeping the nation and awards for the last several years.
This label has been used to describe country music bands and artists that have incorporated influences ranging from roots rock, bluegrass, rockabilly, honky-tonk, alternative rock, folk rock and sometimes punk.
âThe festival includes a one-act comedy for âtweenagers, âEllieâs Wild Ride (Escape from Horse Camp)â by Molly Bass,â Rambo said. âThere are two performances â Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 29.â
âWhose Line is It, Hickory,â features a comedy improv evening with area actors organized by Cale Evans of the hit troupe Now There Are Foxes.â The improv is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, at 8 p.m.
âWe have our new improv group, âWhose Line is It, Hickory,ââ Rambo said. âMembers are Diane Albers, George Page, Daniel Breuer and Bill Boyd,â Rambo said. âIn addition, there are three from Salisbury â Cale Evans, Jacob Asher and Emily Schuttenberg.â
Topping the festival is Spikeâs Magic. Itâs close-up magic with a very funny master of illusion from the Carolina Renaissance Festival. Spikeâs magic features acclaimed illusionist and comedian Jeff Briggs, a regular at the Carolina Renaissance Festival since 2008.
âJeffâs daughter has been in several HCT productions, his wife Sonya is choreographing âThe Full Monty,â and Jeff is in âThe Full Monty,ââ Rambo said. âHis show mixes wicked comedy with amazing illusions.
âSaturday nightâs show is mainly for grown-ups, but the Sunday show is perfect entertainment for the whole family,â he added.
Hickory Community Theatre season tickets will be honored at all festival events.
âOur plans are to have the festival annually, but if it comes off well, then weâll have it sooner,â Rambo said.
Want to go?
Festival of the Performing Arts
â˘ Saturday, April 21, 8 p.m. âHickory Sceneâ â
Indie rock Casey Clark, Leaving Venus and Onna. There is beer and wine service available.
â˘ Friday, April 27, 8 p.m.âFarewell Milwaukeeâ â Indie acoustic from Minneapolis
â˘ Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29, âEllieâs Wild Ride (Escape from Horse Camp) by Molly Bass â a play for âtweenagers.â
â˘ Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, 8 p.m.âWhose Line is It, HIckory?â
â˘ Friday and Saturday, May 11 and May 12 (rated PG-13), 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 13 (just for kids).âSpikeâs Magicâ â close up magic from the Master of Illusion.
Cost: $12 adults and seniors and $7 students and youth. HCT season subscriber tickets are honored at all festival events.
Where: The Firemenâs Kitchen at HIckory Community Theatre
is located at 30 Third St. N.W., downtown Hickory.
For information, call 828-327-3855.