03/10/09 — Making 'Our Town' their town

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Making 'Our Town' their town

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on March 10, 2009 1:46 PM

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Fleming Lomax, left, is lifted by Marcelo Martinez during a photo shoot for "Our Town," a ballet interpretation of Thornton Wilder's award-winning play. Lomax plays the adult guest lead Emily Webb, while Martinez is cast in the adult guest lead George Gibbs.

The fictional town of Grover's Corners is coming to life on stage at the Paramount Theatre in a way celebrated playwright Thornton Wilder would never have forseen.

The Goldsboro Ballet will present "Our Town," a ballet interpretation of the award-winning play, March 13-15 as part of a dance double feature. With a single ticket, audiences will see the Goldsboro Ballet perform the light-hearted romp "The Carnival of the Animals" and the thought-provoking take on the classic Wilder play.

This is the first time the "Our Town" ballet will be performed in North Carolina, said Peggy Wingate, director of the Goldsboro School of Ballet.

"It's the story of the life of two young people, George and Emily, who meet in school. Emily begs her mother not to let her marry so young," Mrs. Wingate said.

But despite some of the heavier overtones, the ballet is still uplifting.

"To me it's got a lot of lightness to it. I think it will come across very well to the audience, you will see the progression of the story," she said.

Meagan Beachem, 16, a student at Eastern Wayne High School, will perform the role of Mrs. Webb in "Our Town." The dancer began reading the philosophical play in preparation for the role.

"I did my research. I was a little confused, but then we talked about it and how it's more about life being the simple things," Ms. Beachem said.

People familiar with the play will be able to follow the story through the dancers' movements, she said.

"It's the same story, but it's how you express it with your body. Your love of dance has to interpret into the ballet," Ms. Beachem said.

Although the Goldsboro ballet usually seeks to feature locals in their productions, by inviting guest dancers the program is able to expose Goldsboro-area dancers to professionals who have danced with companies from around the world. The two guest leads in the upcoming performances are from very different backgrounds, but have come together to share their love of dance with Goldsboro dancers and audiences alike.

Fleming Lomax, performing the role of the adult Emily Webb, majored in dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She went on to teach dance at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in Florida before relocating to Colorado to dance with the Kim Robards Modern Dance Company and Ballet Nouveau. Today, she resides in Asheville, where she teaches pilates, ballet and modern dance.

Ms. Lomax is a charter member of the Goldsboro Ballet and was the very first to dance the role of Clara in the annual production of "The Nutcracker." She is an honorary member of Goldsboro Ballet and director of the Asheville City Ballet.

"I'm excited, it's always challenging to work in a short time frame. It's thrilling to be back here," she said.

Marcelo Martinez, performing the role of George Gibbs, is dancing with the Goldsboro Ballet courtesy of the Carolina Ballet, where he is a first soloist. Born in Paraguay and trained in both Paraguay and Brazil, Martinez joined the Carolina Ballet in 2007 and has performed in Carmina Burana, Waltzes of Old Vienna and many other productions.

This is the second time Martinez is dancing with an outside company -- courtesy of the Carolina Ballet.

"I'm excited, because it's different," he said.

Having a world-traveled dancer has been a positive influence for the local cast members, Mrs. Wingate said.

"He's turned out to be a delightful addition to our cast," she said.

Director and choreographer Patrick Corbin is another welcome visitor to Goldsboro. Not only is he a much-accomplished dancer and director himself, he has close ties to the "Our Town" ballet.

"This is the first time in a while we have actually produced a ballet with a guest choreographer," Mrs. Wingate said. "This is the first time we've had a director from New York."

The production features music composed by Aaron Copland and music taken from the film "The Red Pony." The evening will also include a less serious ballet before the philosophical feature.

"It's a whimsical parade of animals," Mrs. Wingate said. "This is the first time we'll be doing the full suite."

Music composed by Camille Saint-Saens will accompany the performance, as will the satirical poem "Carnival of the Animals" by Ogden Nash, read by Alex Wingate. There will be a "petting zoo" of instruments in the lobby before the production begins.

Tickets are available for $14, $12 and $10 depending on seating choice. Tickets may be purchased at the Arts Council, or at the box office Monday through Thursday. There will be a special performance Friday, March 13 at 12:30 p.m., and regular performances 7 p.m. Saturday, March 14 and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 15.