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Lee Street to kick off new season

Lee Street Theatre will kick off its new season with a party at Cooper’s, The Gathering Place on Wednesday.
Members of the board of directors and volunteers will wait tables and tend bar from 5 to 10 p.m.
Managing Artistic Director Justin Dionne said the restaurant will donate 10 percent of food sales and all of that evening’s tips to the theater group.
“Cooper’s has a new menu out, so it’s a great way to try the new food and support a local business while also helping Lee Street out a bit,” he said.
During the kickoff at Cooper’s, Dionne said people can find out more information about upcoming shows, and learn about the new season flex pass.
The season will begin next week with performances by the improv comedy troupe Now are the Foxes at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16 and 17 at the Looking Glass Artists Center’s blackbox theater.
Lee Street performances will continue to take place at Looking Glass until it opens its new performing arts center Nov. 7 with “All the Great Books (Abridged),” starring the same trio of actors who made last year’s “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” such a hit.
Although Now are the Foxes are a returning favorite, Dionne said Lee Street has some unique shows in the works.
“We’re really happy with the programming that we’ve picked because of its broad appeal,” he said. “We are branding ourselves as an off-Broadway fringe theater, so one of the things that we really enjoy is offering different styles.”
The theatre group will perform its first full-length musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” starting at the end of September.
“It’s a great show about marriage and love,” Dionne said. ‘It’s really cute and funny. Plus, it’s one of the longest-running off-Broadway plays.”
Dionne said another project Lee Street is excited about is Denise Stewart’s original play “The Sugar.”
Stewart is the writer of “Dirty Barbie & Other Girlhood Tales,” which premiered at Lee Street before being performed in Washington, D.C. and New York.
“It got accepted to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, which is one of the biggest international new play festivals in the world,” Dionne said. “It went over great there, it was one of the top five recommended.”
Stewart will collaborate with her former Catawba College professor Jim Epperson, who will direct the play.
“The Sugar,” which will premiere next April is the Lee Street’s first commissioned piece, but Dionne said it likely won’t be its last.
“The new play angle is something we think we have a niche for and what we think will be our niche five or 10 years from now,” he said. “In a perfect world, we would like to make a name for ourselves in the region or maybe even the state as being a place for playwrights.”
Dionne said Lee Street will take “Dirty Barbie” to Charlotte for the inaugural Queen City Fringe Festival Oct. 3 through 6.
“(The organizers) contacted me because they had seen all the things Lee Street has been doing,” he said.
In December, Lee Street will host another original piece written by Salisbury’s Jennifer Hubbard. “OrnaMENTAL” will be performed as a staged reading.
“It’s about women in a small southern town who take part in a Christmas tree decorating contest,” Dionne said. “I can only imagine where it’s going to go.”
The theatre group will continue to host its annual country music show in October and partner with both The Historic Salisbury Foundation and The Rowan-Salisbury Tourism Authority to present “Scrooge’s Christmas Trolley Tour” in December.
“Our focus on growing our community involvement is huge,” Dionne said. “We want to partner with other organizations in town to reach out to as many people as possible.”
Dionne said Salisbury musician Tripp Edwards is currently lining up musicians for Lee Street’s winter concert series.
St. Thomas Players will also take the stage at Lee Street’s new performing arts center.
“It’s a home for us, but we also want to make it a home for St. Thomas Players,” Dionne said. “We’re the two groups in town that didn’t have a place of our own to perform.”
The new online ticketing system recently debuted at the Lee Street website leestreet.org. Dionne said that will make it easier for people to get tickets for upcoming shows, but they will still be available by phone at 704-310-5507 or at the door.
Flex passes are also available for 22, 14 or 11 shows. They can be used to attend each play separately, attend one play several times or come to one performance with friends.

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