Hickory – The Hickory Community Theatre will present the World Premiere of the new play, EATING BLACKBERRIES, beginning Friday, April 5 in the Jeffers Theatre. There will be an additional presentation of awards to HCT immediately before the start of the performance. The production will run additional performances through April 20.

EATING BLACKBERRIES is a play that balances the elements of drama with surprising comedic moments. After a recent divorce, a mom and son are packing up to move out of the former family home as the dad (played by Paul Sapp) prepares to move in with his new wife (played by Lisa Aquino). Outside, an untended thicket of wild blackberries encroaches upon the house, drawing hungry bears.

The role of Sofia, the new wife, marks Aquino’s second appearance with HCT. She made her debut last November in the ensemble for ANASTASIA. She arrived 10 months ago from the Dominican Republic as an exchange student and is currently staying in Lenoir. Her previous theatre experience back home includes playing the lead role in ANNIE at the Black Box Theatre and the Older Sister in Piratata at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, both in Santo Domingo, DR. When asked why she chose to audition for this show, Aquino replied, “I wanted to try something different. The role is a big challenge but I identify with Sofia in so many things.”

The role of Paul, the dad is Sapp’s fourth role on stage at HCT. He has done an equivalent of behind-the-scenes work as well, as a director (THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT) and stage manager. He’s also had several other roles with area theatres, most recently as Lloyd Dallas in NOISES OFF with the Lenoir-Rhyne Playmakers. His other local roles include Dresselmeyer in THE NUTCRACKER with Hickory Ballet and Performing Arts (HBPA) and Boyet in LOVE’S LABOURS LOST for the Green Room’s Shakespeare in the Park. When asked what he enjoys about HCT he replied, “It’s the boundary-pushing plays.” When he’s not on stage, Sapp juggles four jobs, admin at HBPA, House Manager at HCT, postal carrier and stay-at-home dad to Sadie and Riley.

EATING BLACKBERRIES is one of six new plays chosen (out of hundreds of submissions) for the American Association of Community Theatres 10th annual NewPlayFest. HCT is the only Southeastern theatre chosen for the honor. 

EATING BLACKBERRIES will run for three weekends, from April 5-20. Performances are at 7:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30pm on Sundays. There is a bonus Thursday performance on April 18 at 7:30pm as well.

Tickets for EATING BLACKBERRIES are $16 for adults and $10 for students. Tickets may be purchased online at hickorytheatre.org or by phone at 828-328-2283.

EATING BLACKBERRIES is rated PG-13, with some adult language and themes.

EATING BLACKBERRIES is supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with funding from the State of North Carolina and from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Hickory Community Theatre’s 75th anniversary season is sponsored by A Cleaner World, Green Park Dentistry, Paramount Automotive and Sunbelt Xpress. The Hickory Community Theatre is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. EATING BLACKBERRIES is one of the winning original plays from the American Association of Community Theatre’s 2024 NewPlayFest.

PHOTO: Paul Sapp is Paul and Lisa Aquino plays Sofia in EATING BLACKBERRIES. Photo by Eric Seale.