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“Blue” Is a Whimsical Dramedy by Kelly Doyle

Burning Coal Theatre Company will present the world premiere of Blue, a whimsical dramedy written by Raleigh playwright Kelly Doyle and directed by Davidson College theater professor Mark Sutch, on Jan. 13-16, 20-23, and 27-30 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, near the historic Oakwood Section of downtown Raleigh.

John Allore plays William the Blue Worm (photo by Right Image Photography, Inc.)

John Allore plays William the Blue Worm (photo by Right Image Photography, Inc.)

“The script is remarkable — deeply moving and personal, with many elements of universality, but also highly theatrical and wickedly funny,” claims director Mark Sutch. “It’s rare to find that particular combination of traits in any play, let alone an unproduced script. Add to that my previous experience at Burning Coal, a theater company which produces high-quality work in a family-like, supportive atmosphere, and I jumped at the opportunity.

Sutch adds, “This play does have mature themes. [But i]t’s both hilarious and heartbreaking.”

When the curtain rises, says Mark Sutch, “Our principal character, Louise [played by Clemson University drama teacher Kerrie Seymour], is feeling bored with her long-term relationship with Adagio [Raleigh actor John Jimerson], whom she met when they were children and married when they were both very young. Though Adagio loves her very much, their relationship is so tied up in rituals, traditions, habits, games, etc., that it’s begun to feel like a trap.

“When the circus comes to town,” Sutch adds, “Louise becomes enchanted with it, and particularly with a dangerous, exciting male prostitute-cum-escape artist named William the Blue Worm [Durham actor John Allore]. She leaves Adagio for William, who turns out not exactly to be the man of her dreams.”

John Allore and Kerrie Seymour in the Burning Coal Theatre Company production of BLUE by Kelly Doyle (photo by the Right Image Photography, Inc.)

John Allore and Kerrie Seymour in the Burning Coal Theatre Company production of BLUE by Kelly Doyle (photo by the Right Image Photography, Inc.)

In addition to dramatist Kelly Doyle and director Mark Sutch, the Burning Coal Theatre Company creative team for Blue includes Burning Coal artistic director and the show’s producer Jerome Davis, assistant director Samantha Corey, technical director Mark Peelman, set designer Molly Eness, lighting designer ED Intemann, costume designer Katy Werlin, properties managers Rachel McCrain and Elsbeth Cassandra, sound designer Aharon Segal, and stage manager Jessica McGloin.

Director Mark Sutch says the show’s set is “very minimalist.” He adds, “It’s almost like the inside of a circus tent: bare canvas, ropes, and pulleys. Two platforms, round and painted in diamonds, like circus platforms. A window and a couch.”

Sutch says the show’s lighting will be “clear and naturalistic, but with moments of theatrical flourish” and its costumes are “naturalistic, with a color palette emphasizing bleached-out earth tones and light pastels for Louise and Adagio and all-blue for William.”

Mark Sutch notes, “The tone of the piece is very specific, which has been both a challenge and a great deal of fun to try to find — the balance between the twisted comedy and the dark emotional lives of the characters. The play has a number of theatrical elements — circus acts, moments of violence, and sexuality — which have been fun to stage. The play also has a broken, almost episodic, sequence of scenes which need to move forward quickly — transitions have been tough.”

SECOND OPINION: Jan. 6th Chapel Hill, NC WUNC 91.5 FM interview by Frank Stasio with Kelly Doyle and Mark Sutch: (Note: To read Robert W. McDowell’s May 21, 2009 Classical Voice of North Carolina review of Burning Coal’s 2009 staged reading of Blue, click

Burning Coal Theatre Company presents BLUE, a world premiere of a new play by Kelly Doyle, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 13-15, 20-22, and 27-29 and 2 p.m. Jan. 16, 23, and 30 in Burning Coal Theatre at the Murphey School, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604.

TICKETS: $20 ($15 students, seniors 65+, active-duty military personnel, and groups of 10 or more), except pay-what-you-can performance Jan. 16th, $5 Student Rush Tickets, and $10 Thursdays.

BOX OFFICE: 919/834-4001 or





NOTE 1: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh ( will audio describe the 2 p.m. Jan. 16th performance.

NOTE 2: At 6 p.m. on Jan. 22nd, Raleigh dramatist Kelly Doyle will give a “lobby lecture” — FREE for buyers of tickets to any performance of Blue and $5 for everyone else — about being a playwright in the Raleigh/Durham area and about all aspects of writing and developing this world-premiere production.


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 preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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