Archipelago Theatre’s Ellen Hemphill Solos in “Stealing Home” at Manbites Dog

Archipelago Theatre's "Stealing Home" continues April 20-23 at Manbites Dog
Archipelago Theatre's "Stealing Home" continues April 20-23 at Manbites Dog

Archipelago Theatre's "Stealing Home" continues April 20-23 at Manbites Dog
Archipelago Theatre's "Stealing Home" continues April 20-23 at Manbites Dog

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,/They have to take you in,” wrote celebrated 20th century poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) in “The Death of the Hired Man” (1915). But Archipelago Theatre co-founder and artistic director Ellen Hemphill takes Triangle audiences along as she solos in Stealing Home (The Architecture of Intimacy), a multimedia cabaret-style celebration of home and the heart, battered and bruised but unbowed.

Liberally seasoned with a touch of the surrealism for which Archipelago Theatre is famed, Stealing Home combines the eloquent poetic musings and expressive song stylings of Duke University faculty member Ellen Hemphill with the vivid videography of Jim Haverkamp, the Isadora Duncan-style interpretive dance moves of choreographer Terry Beck, the vibrant arrangements of musical director Allison Leyton-Brown and vocal director Richard Armstrong, and the spectacular set design of Tori Ralston to make memorable a baker’s dozen songs that Hemphill makes her own, with the help of a peppy quintet that includes band leader Doug Largent (bass), Danny Gotham (guitar), Alison Weiner (piano), Jay Cartwright (accordion), and Ken Ray Wilemon (percussion).

The song selections and between-scenes business are invigorating. There’s Rosemary Clooney’s “Come on-a My House,” Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger,” Sophie Tucker’s “I’m Living Alone and I Like It,” Donna Summer’s “Naughty Girl,” The Beatles’ “For No One,” Tom Waits’ “Martha” and “Come on Up to the House,” Joni Mitchell’s “Down to You,” Buddy Johnson’s “Since I Fell for You,” Noël Coward’s “I Went to a Marvelous Party,” David Bowie’s “Bring Me the Disco King,” Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,” and Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.” There are smiles and sighs in the eclectic Ellen Hemphill songbook. All in all, Stealing Home is an evening (or matinee) well spent.

SECOND OPINION: April 20th Durham, NC Independent Weekly review by Zach Smith (who awarded the show 4 of 5 stars):; and April 18th Raleigh, NC Classical Voice of North Carolina review by Alan R. Hall: (To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the April 14th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click

Archipelago Theatre presents STEALING HOME (THE ARCHITECTURE OF INTIMACY), a solo vocal cabaret by Ellen Hemphill, at 8:15 p.m. April 20-23 at Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $12 weeknights and $17 Friday-Saturday, except $5 Student Rush Tickets and $2 discount for seniors 62+ and active-duty military personnel.

BOX OFFICE: 919/682-3343 or

SHOW: and






Ellen Hemphill: and (Archipelago Theatre) and (Duke Theater Studies).


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click

By Robert W. McDowell

Robert W. McDowell is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer, editor, and critic. He has written theater, film, book, and music previews and reviews for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, and Classical Voice of North Carolina, all based in Raleigh. In 1980-91, he covered business, industry, government, and education for (We the People of) North Carolina magazine, published monthly by N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. In April 2001, McDowell started Robert's Reviews, a FREE weekly e-mail newsletter that provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the performing arts in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, which includes Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. Triangle Review is the latest-and-greatest version of McDowell's original newsletter. (To start your FREE subscription, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) From December 1980 until September 2017, McDowell served on the board of directors of The Cinema, Inc., a Raleigh-based nonprofit film society formed in 1966. He currently publishes a weekly list of FREE advance screenings of movies in the Triangle area. (To have your e-mail address added to this FREE list, e-mail robertm748[at] and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.) McDowell also co-edited and supervised the production of Jim Valvano's Guide to Great Eating (JTV Enterprises, 1984), a 224-page sports celebrity cookbook; and he served as a fact checker for Valvano: They Gave Me a Lifetime Contract, and Then They Declared Me Dead (Pocket Books, 1991).