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Volume 24, Number 10 — October 2017

Barter Theatre to host bestselling author and Grammy nominated-songwriter

Marshall Chapman, Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith and Matraca Berg. (Photo by Ashley Twiggs, courtesy of Virginia Festival of the Book)
Marshall Chapman, Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith and Matraca Berg. (Photo by Ashley Twiggs, courtesy of Virginia Festival of the Book)

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | July 31, 2013

Barter Theatre hosts bestselling author Lee Smith and Grammy-nominated songwriter Matraca Berg for "Writers Night: An Evening of Song and Story" Aug. 19 at 7:30 p.m. on Barter's main stage.

Joining Smith and Berg for a live onstage appearance will be writer Jill McCorkle, songwriter Marshall Chapman and playwright Paul Ferguson.

These five artists collaborated to create "Good Ol' Girls," the musical that will be performed by Barter Theatre artists for a limited run, Aug. 17-Sept. 7.

Adapted by Paul Ferguson, "Good Ol' Girls" is based on the stories of two acclaimed Southern authors: Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle, with songs by Nashville hit-makers Matraca Berg (who has written for Reba McEntire, Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney) and Marshall Chapman (who has written for Jimmy Buffett, Wynonna Judd).

"Writers Night: An Evening of Song and Story" is a special one-night-only event that will be presented like an informal cabaret with the five collaborators singing original songs and telling their stories onstage.

Learn how Berg, Chapman, McCorkle and Smith are good ol' girls in their own right and hear what that means to them. They will also talk about how they, along with the collaboration of Ferguson, brought "Good Ol Girls" to the stage. Smith and McCorkle will alternate readings from their novels with the songs of Chapman and Berg.

"The show was Matraca's idea-she wrote a song named "Good Ol Girls' and thought it might be the basis for a musical. Once we got together with the other girls to talk about the possibilities of a show, it became clear that a lot of our songs and stories have a real resonance," said Smith. Ferguson took all their material and adapted it for the stage.

Any woman can be a good ol' girl, believes McCorkle. Good ol' girls are not just found in the South. "She might live in Durham, N.C., or Akron, Ohio, or Denver, Colo., or, well, anywhere," says McCorkle. She describes good ol' girls as "women of all types and ages in all different places coming to terms with some big issues in life."

"Our characters don't shy away from these issues, either, such as love, marriage, pregnancy, work, abuse, faith, family and aging. These are not Southern issues. These are universal," adds Smith.

Tickets to "An Evening of Song and Story" are $30. All proceeds go to Barter's Annual Fund for Artistic Excellence. Barter recommends both shows for mature teens and adults. Call 276-628-3991 or visit www.bartertheatre.com for more information.

Topics: Music, Theatre