Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s new season opens this week. For a preview and a closer look at the theater's operation, CityView spoke with marketing director Ashley Owen and managing director Ella Wrenn. Find out more at www.cfrt.org.
“The Play That Goes Wrong” opens your 2023-24 season. What’s special about the upcoming schedule of shows for CFRT?
ASHLEY OWEN: Everything about this season is special for CFRT. When the pandemic began, we had to cancel/reschedule so many of our events. This is the first full season of new shows that weren't announced at some point previously. It is also the final season in our building as it currently is, and we are excited to celebrate its 62-year history this entire year as we gear up to break ground on our new facility next summer. This season has something for everyone and features incredible talent both on and off stage.
Of all the great stories that’ll be told on stage in the coming months, is there one you’re particularly excited about? Why?
OWEN: I am excited about all of them, but personally, I think I am most excited for “The Addams Family” for a few reasons. First, I love this property, and it has had such a resurgence over the past couple of years. Between the Netflix series and the animated movies, I think people are going to love seeing characters they know and love on our stage, especially during the Halloween season. Second, the team for this show is stacked. Our artistic director, Mary Kate Burke, is directing. Tyce Diorio (an Emmy Award winner for his work on “So You Think You Can Dance?”) is coming back to town to do the choreography, and Matt Castle (who has several Broadway credits to his name) will do the music supervision. The cast is also top-notch and features some familiar faces, including CFRT’s own Marc de la Concha (Donkey in “Shrek” and Felix in “The Odd Couple”) as Gomez.
What do CFRT regulars need to know about this season, and what’s your message to anyone who hasn’t had the chance to experience a visit there for a performance?
OWEN: For any newcomers, we are so excited to meet you. This is a tremendously exciting time for CFRT, and we'd love to share it with you. We want you to come as you are and know that one of our core values is to give you an exceptional, accessible, joyful experience. Each thing — costumes, sets, rehearsal — is built right here in Fayetteville, and we hope you can feel the love and dedication we pour into our work. We can’t wait for you to experience CFRT!.
For our regulars, we just want to say thank you. The theater industry is still struggling post-pandemic, with major organizations announcing layoffs and closures weekly. We have felt your support every step of the way over the past several years and we are so thankful to this community for constantly showing up for us. We are honored to live here, to work here, and to tell great stories here, and it is because of you that we are still able to do just that.
Can you speak about the caliber of the professionals who work to make performances there happen?
OWEN: CFRT is so special because it blends all kinds of talent from across the country. Young adults who are just beginning their careers get the chance to work alongside award-winning industry professionals who have decades of experience. Our local and regional performers share the stage with artists from New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and beyond to bring our shows to life. That hybrid is really special and means that you'll see Broadway veterans on our stage as well as artists who will appear on Broadway in the years ahead!
What are the benefits of purchasing a season ticket package — both for the theatergoer and for CFRT as an organization?
ELLA WRENN: For the theatergoer, flex packages represent the absolute best price on regular tickets to mainstage shows and give you the most flexibility. You can redeem the tickets in any order at any time (no stress about missing a show and losing your investment), you get access to the best seats, avoid fees, and (with a five-show package) get free concessions. For the theater, the financial stability provided by getting subscription money up front helps capitalize the shows in the season before single-ticket revenue really starts coming in. It also helps us anticipate audience numbers and empowers us to program a season with greater artistic variety, knowing that a certain amount of funding is already committed. For both patrons and professionals, flex ticket packages are a win-win!.
For those not familiar with your Phase 2 capital campaign, can you share what you are trying to achieve and give us an update about how it’s going, and other changes within the walls there?
WRENN: CFRT's capital campaign began in 2020 with the now complete and fully funded renovation of the theater proper. Audiences have been loving the experience of the renovated theater — - deeper rows, better sound, cupholders, and new seats all make for an exceptional viewing experience when you attend a performance at CFRT.
ACT 2: ELEVATE & EXPAND takes on the rest of our aging building while protecting and working around the investment already made in the theater itself. With our team at N.C.-based SfL&a Architects, we have created a facility that will include two new education studios, a beautiful lobby with a coffee shop/bar, and a rooftop cabaret space which will help create additional performance opportunities for the talented artists in our community. With incredible support from donors, advocates, and elected officials, we have raised $13 million of our $20 million goal for this project and will be breaking ground in June 2024.
For anyone wanting to check out “The Play That Goes Wrong,” what’s the easiest way to get tickets?
OWEN: It's a fantastically funny show. We hope everyone comes to laugh with us. To get tickets, you can visit CFRT.org or call the box office at 910-323-4233.
CityView is a sponsor of Cape Fear Regional Theatre.