BANNER ELK — The Lees-McRae Summer Theatre season returns this June with two musicals that put the American experience at center stage.
Online ticket sales begin May 10 for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story.” Tickets are currently available through mail order as well.
This year, audience sizes will be reduced to allow for social distancing and fewer people in a single space. In accordance with North Carolina state mandates, all audience members are required to wear a mask and receive a temperature check before entering the theater. Additionally, the theatre will be thoroughly cleaned between performances. If any audience member is feeling ill prior to their selected performance, they should contact the box office to exchange their ticket for a different showing.
The season will begin on June 19 with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a Tony-Award winning comedic musical that includes audience participation. It will be followed in July by “America’s Artists: The Norman Rockwell Story,” an original musical written by Summer Theatre Artistic Director Janet Barton Speer and featuring music and lyrics by Jt Oaks and Tommy Oaks.
“When we all came together and confirmed we could present Lees-McRae Summer Theatre in a responsible and safe manner, we were ecstatic,” Speer said. “It will be a limited season, but the very fact that we can put our creative efforts together to entertain our audiences is enough, after a year of dashed hopes and dreams. So come on to Banner Elk and enjoy the hilariously funny ‘Putnam County Spelling Bee’ and the new musical ‘America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story.’ We are open, and it’s one of the signs that our world is moving in a new and positive direction.”
“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” which had its Broadway debut in 2005, tells the story of six adolescent spellers competing for the prestigious title of county spelling bee champion. The audience gets to know the contestants as the rounds advance and each speller tries, for their own personal reasons, to prove they are the best. Because of the PG-13 nature of the comedy throughout the show, it is not recommended for children.
“America’s Artist: The Norman Rockwell Story” is a new musical about the painter and illustrator who captured the spirit of American culture in more than 4,000 works, including portraits, book illustrations, and magazine covers. Speer, Oaks, and Oaks previously collaborated on “From the Mountaintop: The Edgar Tufts Story” and “The Denim King: The Moses Cone Story.”
Adult tickets are $43 for reserved premium center seating and $38 for all other seating. Students can buy tickets for premium seating at $20 and other seating at $18. Season tickets are $66, or $76 for premium seats. Tickets purchased online will have an additional convenience fee.
The performances will be held in the Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre on the Lees-McRae campus. Because social distancing will be enforced, it is likely that all shows will reach capacity. It is recommended that patrons purchase tickets early to guarantee a seat.
Lees-McRae Summer Theatre has provided high-quality artistic experiences to residents of the High Country for over thirty years. By including professionals, community members, and students in the cast, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre serves as both an educational and entertainment opportunity for Lees-McRae students and the wider community.
Contact the Box Office at (828) 898-8709 with questions or for group ticket sales, or click to www.lmc.edu/community/summer-theatre/index.htm for more information.