At North Carolina Stage Company:
Local actress Barbara Bates Smith has made a virtual career of adapting author Lee Smith’s popular novels into one-woman shows. She’s best known for “Ivy Rowe,” based on the “Fair and Tender Ladies.” Now, Bates Smith is doing Lee Smith’s latest novel, “On Agate Hill,” at the N.C. Stage Company.The two Smiths — no relation — seem made for each other. Both are Southern, born and bred.
Bates Smith is a marvel as she slips from character to character: a harsh schoolmistress, a teacher and a mountain man, each identified by a tall table with a signature item on top. But, mostly she is Molly, moving from her ‘cubby-hole’ in the wrecked plantation, to a range of sites in two states over half-century’s time... And it all moves seamlessly with Bates Smith’s skill and Suzanne Tinsley's deft direction.
Part of the glue that holds the tale together is the talented vocal, banjo and hammer dulcimer score by Jeff Sebens. The tunes chosen for this production are both familiar and new, but all aid in creating the mood necessary to convey the touching and often poignant story.
I was happy to meet you and see your wonderful performance. —Ron Rash, author
This adaptation is magnificent. It goes right to the heart of the story —Lee Smith
Your "On Agate Hill" piece is poetry —Kay Byer, Poet Laureate, North Carolina
The evaluations were phenomenal. Your average score on a scale of one to ten was TEN!
It was cool to learn in the Q&A session that she listens to the music to stay on track —Student, Mars Hill College