Laughter abounds in ‘Falling In Like,’ an almost romantic comedy at HART

The Haywood Arts Regional Theatre kicks off summer with a hilarious backstage romp “Falling in Like” an “almost romantic comedy” written and directed by the playwright Jerry Sipp.

This performance is a unique opportunity to have a playwright come into the community as a guest artist to oversee the production. Sipp has had a long association with HART and its executive director Steve Lloyd.

“Falling in Like” premiered a few years ago in Raleigh and opened to rave reviews. It went on to win the North Carolina New Play Project Award and was awarded “Best New Script” by The Independent in Raleigh.

The show tells the story of leading man Frank who helps Abbie go from intern to ingénue when the leading lady pops a kneecap in rehearsal. The good deed leads to a romantic pursuit, and Frank has to fend off Abbie’s increasingly insistent attempts to get to know him. The show crackles with one liners and backstage antics.

Lloyd and Sipp met in 1983 when both were studying theatre at UNC-Greensboro. They were cast opposite one another in “Deathtrap” and became close friends almost immediately.

While living in L.A., Lloyd wrote a play about brothers Edwin and John Wilkes Booth and sent it to Jerry. The two-character piece was intended as a vehicle for the two of them. Sipp liked it and so did the head of the UNC-G professional summer theater, who agreed to hire them as guest artists and produce the premier. “The Actor and The Assassin” was picked up by an agent in Atlanta then later New York, and Lloyd and Sipp toured in the show for the next 17 years, performing in Europe, at the Kennedy Center and in New York.

Lloyd became a Visiting Artist at Haywood Community College which brought him to HART. Sipp became a Visiting Artist at Catawba Valley Community College and later the Executive Director of the Playhouse Theatre in Rocky Mount, NC.

The Playhouse and HART became sister theatres for several years, trading productions each season. Then came Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The storm completely destroyed The Playhouse Theater, ending that collaboration. Sipp became the Executive Director of Temple Theatre, a professional company in Sanford and a playwright. “Falling In Like” offers an opportunity for Lloyd, Sipp and the folks at HART to reunite for the first time since the destruction of the playhouse.

The show has a great cast including Jennifer Sanner, David Dvorscak, Jeff Messer, Allison Stinson, Preston Tinsley, Shanda Jacobs and Christopher Martin.

“Falling In Like” has performances at 7 p.m. June 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12; and 3 p.m. June 6 and 13.

$18 adult, $16 seniors and $8 for students with $5 discount tickets for students for Thursday and Sunday performances. Box Office Hours are from 1 to 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 828.456.6322 for reservations.

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