By Lisa Boykin Batts (Class of 1984) The Wilson Times
Lauren Kennedy returns to the theater that bears her name, this time as performer.
The Broadway actress will be featured in the one-woman show, “Tell Me On A Sunday,” running Sept. 2-5 at the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre at Barton College.
Kennedy said the Andrew Lloyd Webber show has a great score and that she’s excited about the music and working with director Matthew-Jason Willis. Some of the music has been altered to be more accessible to the audience, she said.
“We’re putting a little of our own spin and take on it,” she said.
The show has changed in general with each production since it opened in 1979, she said. There are a number of materials and lyrics to choose from. Three of her favorite songs from the show are “Tell Me On a Sunday,” “Unexpected Song” and “Come Back with the Same Look in Your Eyes.”
She will play the role of Emma, an outsider to New York (not England as in the original show) who’s looking for success in her career.
The show isn’t performed often, she said. It’s only 80 minutes, features one-person on stage plus a decent size band, and doesn’t make sense for a lot of theaters. But it works well for these two stages.
Although she has directed at the Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre, this show marks the first time Kennedy, whose credits include “Spamalot,” “Les Miserables” and “Sunset Boulevard,” has performed for the public in the theater.
“It is such an honor to even have my name on a building, let alone a theater where I can continue to hone my craft and entertain,” Kennedy said.
It’s no coincidence that the show opened Wednesday night as the season’s final show of this year’s Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy in Raleigh. That’s been part of a master plan for several years now.
The Kennedy family, including Lauren’s father, K.D. Kennedy, and brother Michael Kennedy started Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy. It was the Kennedy family who gave the major gift to fund the Barton theater. Once that happened, the wheels started turning, and plans were made to share performances at the Kennedy with productions at Barton’s black box theater.
“We’re hoping to form a real sisterhood with the two theaters,” Lauren Kennedy said.
Barton’s year-old theater needs to bring in programming other than what’s produced at the schools and to build an audience, she said.
“It’s just a great way to start and a great way to put it on the map.”
The plan involves including Barton students working in the production of the summer shows, particularly the one that travels to the campus.
This summer, three Barton students, Wesley Pridgen, Jess Jones and James Duncan, and recent graduates Jenson Davis and Chris Wallen worked with the Hot Summer Nights productions.
Wallen is assistant stage manager for “Tell Me On A Sunday,” Jones is running crew, Davis is spot light operator and Duncan is sound board operator. Pridgen worked on three other Hot Summer Night shows but not this one.
Kennedy described the Barton group as “hard-working kids.”
“They have worked so hard and have been so joyful and sweet and patient,” she said.
Jones said she transferred to Barton last year because she wanted to have this kind of internship experience. She’s worked on sets for all the shows this summer and as a stagehand. “The contacts I’ve made have been priceless,” she said.
Jones, who called Lauren Kennedy “a fantastic performer,” said anyone who comes to Barton to see the show will love it.
“We’re bringing it back to our community, which is a great thing to be able to do,” she said. Lauren Kennedy is also happy to have the show in Wilson.
“I am so grateful to Barton and to my parents, K.D. and Sara Lynn Kennedy, for their generosity and support!”
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Photos courtesy of Keith Barnes, The Wilson Times.
“Tell Me On A Sunday” Featuring Lauren Kennedy in the one-woman Andrew Lloyd Webber show Sept. 1-5 at The Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre at Barton College. (The Sept. 1 show is by invitation only.)
Shows are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older and military, $10 for non-Barton students, and $2 for Barton students and employees if purchasing online or free at the door with a Barton ID. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at 866-811-4111 or by visiting https://www.barton.edu/theatre/.