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Arts and Entertainment

All hail basketball court of 'King Liz'
Local production combines sports, theater
Published Monday, February 12, 2018 7:18 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Shar Martin, right, holds court with Jermaine A. Gamble, left, and Sultan Omar El-Amin in a scene from Three Bone Theatre's production of "King Liz." The production is on stage at Duke Energy Theatre Feb. 15-17 and Feb. 22-24.

Theater meets sports in “King Liz.”

Two subjects that often lead parallel existences in the world of entertainment collide in the Charlotte debut of Fernanda Coppel’s play, a production by Three Bone Theatre at Duke Energy Theatre Feb. 15-17 and 22-24 at 8 p.m. The play is recommended for ages 18 and up.

Liz Rico, played by Shar Marlin, isn’t just any NBA agent, but one of the best in the business. Her repeated line is “it’s good to be king,” a title much discussed by the cast.  

“It really is telling the story of a woman who is at the top of her game in a male-dominated field,” said Three Bone Theatre founding artistic director Robin Tynes. “She takes on this kind of title of king. She says throughout the play, ‘it’s good to be king.’ She owns her space, the way she talks to her clients. She’s incredibly powerful, and she’s incredibly direct and assertive. A lot of times, possibly unfortunately, those are qualities that we associate with being masculine. It’s about this woman who is still very much feminine, navigating this male-dominated world and being at the top of it.”

Coppel’s personal love for the NBA shines through her work, particularly with references to players like James Harden of the Houston Rockets and franchise owners like Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks.

“It’s really interesting how you can tell that some players she clearly loves, and some that she didn’t like with the way she presented them in the piece,” Marlin said. “The names that will be mentioned throughout the play, a lot of people in the audience, if they are basketball fans and even if you’re not …has heard of Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Even if you don’t watch it, you know it. She has sprinkled a lot of real life characters in there.”

Said Tynes: “Coppel has done several interviews about being this avid NBA fan, and how she grew up watching basketball. She really creates a world that is so specific, with certain jokes about certain players that you really only get if you’re kind of an NBA person. It adds that extra layer that you really don’t see in a lot of plays. There is a lot of theater about theater. There’s not a lot of theater about the sports world. One of the things that we loved about it as a company is that we’re hoping to draw people into the theater who maybe are not regular theater goers, because it is so relatable, especially for people who follow the NBA, or sort of know the sports world in general.”

An all-local cast directed by Corlis Hayes, who Tynes describes as a “Charlotte staple,” follows Liz’s journey with high school basketball star Freddie Luna (Sultan Omar El-Amin), who signs with the New York Knicks.

“She has a connection with Freddie since they’re both from the projects,” Marlin said. “You wouldn’t think that a 19-year old young man would have any connection with a 40-plus-year-old woman, but eventually they do find that connection. She finds herself looking at him as more than a moneybag, but more as an opportunity to help herself connect with her past. He can be a very tough egg to crack. She is as well. She finds herself being able to pretty much save him from a lot of his past mistakes.”  

For more information: www.threebonetheatre.com/current-production


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