It’s been 10 years since Porch Productions Inc. — described currently as the only Black-owned youth theater company on the East Coast — held its first performance of “The Wiz” at Hopewell High School. Since then, approximately 3,000 youth have participated in Porch Productions shows or performed in the range of titles it has produced for drama clubs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
On Saturday, the company will celebrate its 10th anniversary season with a stroll down memory lane and a sneak peek of its 2019 season opener, “Shrek: The Musical.”
“We stand on the shoulders of the Afro-American Children’s Theater, which was founded by [wife of Charlotte attorney and civil rights champion James Ferguson II] Barbara Ferguson, who we’re honoring on Saturday,” said Monica Pettiford, founder of Porch Productions.
Pettiford created Porch Productions in 2005 while collaborating with the Afro-American Children’s Theater. Four years later, she branched off for her first solo season.
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“[Ferguson] passed the torch on to me and really gave me the bandwidth to create my own entity. She created such a legacy here,” Pettiford said.
The company has been a springboard for the youth to perform around Charlotte and beyond. Ramon Reed — who landed a role on the new Disney Channel show “Just Roll With It” and played Simba in the national Broadway tour of the “Lion King” last fall — got his start with Porch Productions when he was 7 years old.
Porch Productions’ 10th Anniversary Season Celebration
Date: Saturday, June 8
Time: 6-8 p.m.
Location: Knight Gallery at Spirit Square, 345 N. College St., Charlotte
The Arts & Science Council announced Thursday that Charlotte native R. Jeep Bryant will take over as president beginning July 1. Bryant will succeed Robert Bush, who officially retires at the end of the month.
Bryant joins ASC as it seeks a designated revenue stream to ensure cultural equity and that all residents can access the region’s arts and cultural experiences. In his previous tenure with The Broadway League in New York City, among other things, he launched a diversity task force to increase attendance and engagement with African American Broadway consumers, identified opportunities to reach new audiences and produced experiences to reach Latino and Hispanic communities.
“It is an honor to be selected for this leadership role at such an important time for ASC and to return home to Charlotte,” Bryant said. “The funding challenges will require an energetic commitment and tireless effort from all of us. With the community’s support, we will expand ASC’s investments in arts, science and history opportunities that are vibrant, diverse and inclusive.”
Katrina Louis is managing editor of qcitymetro.com who can always find something to do in Charlotte. She’s an offline hustler (and has the shirt to prove it) but when online, find her on Instagram and Twitter.