With veteran actress Cybill Shepherd sidelined after a foot injury, the North Carolina Theatre had to look elsewhere for some star power to unveil the 2012 NC Theatre and Broadway Series South season at Memorial Auditorium.
Shepherd was supposed to headline Tuesday's kick-off but had to pull out of the starring role in "Hello, Dolly!" after a fall on a staircase left her with a fractured shin and a severe ankle sprain. The play begins an 11-show run Saturday.
Organizers found a pair of stars-- well, local stars anyway-- in the form of Mayor Charles Meeker and City Councilman Eugene Weeks, who ably filled in. (No, the duo did not break into a rendition of "It Takes A Woman" from "Hello, Dolly!")
They did announce that NC Theatre's upcoming Broadway season includes:
A Christmas Story: The Musical!, Nov. 29-Dec. 4
Green Day's American Idiot: Jan. 31-Feb. 5, 2012
Les Miserables: Feb. 14-19, 2012
Steel Magnolias: April 20-29, 2012
Oliver!: July 17-22, 2012
Legally Blonde: The Musical, Oct. 9-14, 2012
Stepping in as Shepherd's replacement in "Hello, Dolly!" is Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, whose Broadway credits include "Les Miserables" and "Miss Saigon."
Meeker cast Memorial Auditorium as a destination for all of eastern North Carolina and said he hopes the productions will have regional appeal. The mayor also noted Raleigh's collection of local arts venues, including the new Contemporary Art Museum in the warehouse district.
Memorial Auditorium has faced plenty of competition from its neighbor to the west, Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), which has a few hundred more seats and ties to a national production company.
Meeker said Raleigh's showplace is holding its own. "With next season's line-up, clearly Broadway theater is here to stay," he said.
The Broadway season "truly offers something for everyone," added Lisa Grele Barrie, president and CEO of NC Theatre.
Tickets are still available for all 11 performances of "Hello, Dolly!" For details, check nctheatre.com or call 831-6941.