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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Musical returns to West Charlotte High School stage after 20 years
‘In the Heights’ brings theater back to campus
Published Wednesday, March 21, 2018 2:09 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Theater has value at West Charlotte High School.

“In the Heights,” which runs March 22-24 at Blake Auditorium on campus, isn’t just another high school musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical may have won the Tony Award for Best Musical a decade ago, but for West Charlotte, it has been nearly two decades since the school produced a full stage play.

“It was Miranda’s first musical pre-‘Hamilton,’” Drama Club advisor and English Department Chair Franchone Bey said. “It’s very similar in style and musicality. It is about the Dominican people who are living in Washington Heights, New York. It’s about love, life and family, and really the theme is about a place that we all can call home, and what do you call home. They go through some different trials and tribulations.”

Showtimes are 6 p.m. on March 22-23 and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 24. Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door.

Bey began the drama club with two colleagues in 2016-17. While the colleagues are no longer at West Charlotte, student interest kept it around.

“They didn’t have a theater program,” Bey said. “They still don’t have a theater program.”

A Tri-State area native, Bey’s background includes a master’s degree in communications, one in journalism and founded a theater company, Obey Theatre Group, in Connecticut for several years. She has translated that experience into West Charlotte’s drama club.

“My background is in theater, and I wanted to start a drama club here at the school,” Bey said. “The two other teachers left, but one of the students said, ‘I know you’re going to continue to do it. I’m not going to cheer this year, because I knew that I was going to be involved with drama.’ I said, ‘OK. We’re going to do this production that I’ve seen off Broadway several times, and on Broadway several times.’”

Bey sees the production as a mirror to growing diversity in Charlotte.

“It’s about the Hispanic community of people who are in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean who actually come to New York looking for a better way of life,” she said. “It’s very relevant with the communities here in Charlotte who have come from all over, because they know that Charlotte has great opportunities. It highlights that sense of being with people who you share some type of common culture with.”

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