The professional theater-in-residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will present the stage version of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece in two parts, running in rotating repertory.

The Tony Award-winning play by David Edgar will feature 25 actors playing more than 150 characters. Edgar has been consulting on the production and was in residence at PlayMakers during early rehearsals.

PlayMakers’ producing artistic director Joseph Haj, who will co-direct the play, said that Dickens’ novel will be brought to life with all the colorful characters, fantastic twists of fate, sly humor and rich, interwoven tapestry of his immortal tale.

“We’re pulling out all the stops for this show,” he said.
 
American Theatre Magazine called the production “the theatrical experience of a lifetime.” The News & Observer of Raleigh dubbed PlayMakers’ presentation the Triangle’s “most ambitious stage event of the season.”

Show times will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays (except on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26), 2 p.m. on Saturdays (except Nov. 14) and 2 p.m. Sundays (except Nov. 15). For a performance schedule, to purchase tickets and to learn about community activities related to the play, call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit www.playmakersrep.org.

All performances will be in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Tickets are $10 to $40. With the purchase of a ticket to Part 1, a ticket to Part 2 may also be purchased at 25 percent off. This offer cannot be combined with other discounts or offers.

Haj directed last season’s acclaimed opening show, “Pericles,” as well as “Amadeus” and “Cyrano de Bergerac.” He will co-direct “Nickleby” with Tom Quaintance, who helmed PlayMakers’ hit holiday presentations of “The Little Prince” last December and in 2007.

Special events during “Nicholas Nickleby” will include:

• “The Vision Series” free directors’ preview and reception on Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. (reservations suggested);

• Preview performances of Part 1 Nov. 11-13 and Part 2 Nov. 18-20 at 7:30 p.m.;

• Two opportunities to “Spend a Day at the Theatre,” on Nov. 21 and Dec. 19. On both dates, Part 1 will be performed at 2 p.m. and Part 2 at 7:30 p.m. Boxed Bistro Dinners from Whole Foods Market will be available for purchase for $15 each to enjoy between the performances.

Nov. 21, which is Opening Day, will include a complimentary gala party following the evening show. And on this date, in addition to the Bistro Dinners, a special Holiday Dinner with directors Joseph Haj, Tom Quaintance and the “Nickleby” designers will be held in the theater’s main rehearsal hall, served by JW Walton of The Catering Company for only $75 per person. Space is limited for this event, so reservations should be made by Nov. 11.

In either case, pre-ordering dinner when purchasing show tickets is recommended;

• Free post-show discussions with members of the “Nickleby” creative team on Dec. 2 and 13;

• All-access performances for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description, on Dec. 8 (Part 1) and Dec. 15 (Part 2.)
 
In conjunction with the production, PlayMakers is presenting an array of community events through The Dickens Initiative, funded by an “Access to Artistic Excellence Grant” from the National Endowment for the Arts. The initiative focuses on literacy through the timeless storytelling of Charles Dickens and partners the theater company with libraries, schools, book stores and civic organizations throughout the region. Events are under way and continue through the run of the play. Visit www.playmakersrep.org for a schedule and ways to participate.

“Nickleby” is supported in part by a grant from the N.C. Arts Council. Durham Catering Company and the AT&T Real Yellow Pages are co-producing sponsors.

Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premier resident professional theater company. New York’s Drama League named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatres in America.”
“Nicholas Nickleby” Web site: http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/