Arnold Wengrow, professor emeritus of drama at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, has launched a new blog, An Asheville Observer: Occasional Observations on Art and the Arts in Asheville. There, he’s offering up educated reviews of local shows.

Wengrow, who founded the theater program at UNC Asheville in 1970, has a long history of producing theater in town, and writing about it, most notably as a contributor to the Asheville Citizen-Times and as contributing editor of Theatre Design and Technology for nearly 20 years.

Here’s a link to his latest review of Terry Tempest: The Final Interview, on stage now at The Magnetic Theatre on Depot Street. From the review:

Asheville playwright Jamieson Ridenhour teases us with not one but two loaded guns in the first act of his new play Terry Tempest: The Final Interview, now at the Magnetic Theatre through March 25. Waiting to see when and how they get fired, and by whom and at whom, is one of the charms—and there are many—of this entertaining dark comedy.

Terry Tempest is not exactly a locked-room mystery, but Ridenhour does lock three characters in a hotel room with those guns and keeps us eagerly anticipating the inevitable fireworks. In this case, tempers as well as firearms explode.

Olivia (Hayley Heninger) is a recent journalism grad on her first big assignment for a rock-and-roll magazine in New York. She’s scored an interview with a notoriously interview-averse punk rocker, Terry Tempest (Cody Magouirk). It’s arranged by his manager, Joey (Pasquale LaCorte), without his client’s knowledge.

Terry needs to restart his artistic life after a reclusive and troubled fifteen-year dry spell. Joey needs to restart Tempest’s royalties.

Olivia’s friend Stacy (Carrie Kimbrell Kimzey) tags along because they’ve been Tempest fans since they were teenyboppers. Left alone in Tempest’s suite at the Plaza Hotel, the two women giggle and gawp at the star’s memorabilia and even take swigs from a hip flask Stacy finds in a drawer. They also find what they call “the most famous hat in rock and roll.” They’ve reverted to full screaming teenybopperhood, despite Olivia’s reminders that she needs to stay professional.

As played with lots of brio by Heninger and Kimzey, Olivia and Stacey are annoyingly endearing. Or is that just annoying? The director, Rodney Smith, allows them to veer a little too far for credibility into Lucy and Ethel sneaking into Cornel Wilde’s penthouse suite. Finding the right tone for dark comedy is always tricky.

Ridenhour knows how to pack in a lot of plot and a lot of character backstory. And he knows how to unpack it all in good Ibsen fashion, dropping hints and revealing family secrets.

Click over to An Asheville Observer to read the full review.

Related links:

Theater review: ‘The Submission’ a powerful, heartfelt production

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