Broadway returns to the mountains with Lees-McRae Summer Theatre

Lees-McRae Summer Theatre (LMST) returns this June and July with two crowd-pleasing, Tony Award-winning musicals, “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Matilda: The Musical.” This season is continuing the decades-long tradition of providing high-quality, professional theatre on the Lees-McRae College campus in Banner Elk.

The Broadway-scale productions are brought to life by a company of more than 150 members that gather from across the country to share and craft their talents. By including professionals, community members, and students in the cast, the non-profit serves as both an educational and entertainment opportunity.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” is the first production of the season and will run Sunday, June 26−Sunday, July 3 in Hayes Auditorium. Often referred to as “a musical within a comedy,” attendees should expect lots of fun and tons of laughs at this five-time Tony Award-winning show. When a lover of classic musicals puts the vinyl of his favorite 1920s production—"The Drowsy Chaperone”—on his turntable, the record comes to life and the zany characters come bursting through his refrigerator door.

The first show will be directed by LMST Managing Director Gabriel Vanover, who has been serving in his current role within the theater company since 2017. Before taking on the role of managing director, Vanover participated as an actor.

“The show thrilled audiences in New York when it opened, and now it’s been a hit around the world, so we’re excited to mount it in Banner Elk,” Vanover said. “This show pokes fun at the musicals of yesteryear while reminding us why we love the classics like ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘My Fair Lady.’”

The second production of the season is "Matilda: The Musical," based on Roald Dahl’s award-winning children’s book of the same name. This show will run Thursday, July 21−Wednesday, July 27 in Hayes Auditorium. Full of high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs, this show has won more than 47 theater awards internationally, including five Tony Awards.

“‘Matilda: The Musical’ is pure fun wrapped in allegory. Lessons are learned in a totally delightful way, and it’s a joy to watch as over-the-top characters show us the underlying truth,” LMST Artistic Director Janet Speer said. “The musical tells the tale with humor and outlandish antics, but in the end, the truth becomes very clear and satisfying.”

The musical tells the story of a bright young girl who decides to right the wrongs in her world by using her wit and cleverness. Teaming up with her school chums, Matilda takes on Miss Trunchbull, the evil headmistress of the school, and in the process discovers just how powerful believing in yourself can be.

This show will be directed by Speer, who has been the artistic director of the theatre company since 1985.Throughout her years with LMST, she has enjoyed maintaining strong connections with patrons and performers even as the program has changed, developed, and grown.

“Many of the people who come to Summer Theatre have been coming for years and years, and they are friends. This is true of a lot of the actors too,” Speer said. “I think working with the people is what I like about it the most.”

Tickets for this year’s Lees-McRae Summer Theatre productions of “The Drowsy Chaperone” and “Matilda: The Musical” are on sale now. In-person ticket sales begin June 7. Adult tickets are $38 for standard seating, and $42 for premium, while tickets for students (K−college) are $18 for standard, $20 for premium. For questions about tickets, call the Box Office at 828.898.8709.

Read more about each production and specific show times
By Maya JarrellApril 29, 2022
CommunityCampus Life