If you don't know this already, the Lees-McRae College Summer Theatre is one of our greatest cultural resources in these here mountains, a professional operation run by Janet Speer since the mid-1980s to the great delight and edification of anyone fortunate enough to see one of her genius productions.
We saw her mounting of "Ragtime" last night, which was quite the condensed history lesson of America in the first decades of the 20th century, told by a sterling cast with music supplied by a really hot combo of piano, clarinet, bassoon, violin, and percussion. It ain't your typical junior high history lesson, either, dealing frankly with race, immigration, class privilege, and radical labor organizing. Not many musicals give you both the socialist firebrand Emma Goldman and the racial accommodationist Booker T. Washington in the same cast of characters!
The production runs through Friday (for tickets, phone 828-898-8709). If you manage to grab tickets, get yourself there early, as there are no reserved seats. Last night, it was pretty much standing room only in that auditorium.
The Summer Theatre usually runs three (and occasionally four) shows every summer, but this year "Ragtime" is the only production. A sign of these economic times. Lees-McRae College appears unable to subsidize the theater this year as in years past, and next summer's schedule depends entirely on how well "Ragtime" does this week.
It would be a pluperfect shame to lose this bright and shining resource.