‘An Extra Penny’ brings Broadway quality to Wilson

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It’s a fairly long story how we got to this point, but the bottom line is Wilson will be hosting a brand-new American musical the weekend of Sept. 13-15. This is aligning with the 100th anniversary celebration of the Edna Boykin Cultural Center, originally the Wilson Theater, in the historic downtown district. The musical is set in 1919, the same year the Wilson Theater was built.

This musical, “An Extra Penny,” was written by playwright Cindy Lu Mancini from her home in Stantonsburg and has been refined and tweaked and babied for eight years leading to this grand moment.

The play is being produced by Conwell S. Worthington II, who produced “Beauty and the Beast” for Disney, “The King and I” with Yul Brenner and worked on productions with Shelley Winters, Lena Horne and Gregory Peck among many others. He also produced the Elizabeth Taylor birthday party at Disneyland with 200 celebrity guests including Elton John. His portfolio is impressive — seriously big-time. Along with his talent and experiences, he is bringing in high-end sound and lighting equipment, the props and some of the sets. The music and lyrics were finalized by professional lyricists and musicians. There are some local actors performing, but many are coming in regionally.

Plays destined for Broadway don’t just happen. You can’t knock on the playhouse door and say “Let me in.” They all start in small theaters and move their way up. “Jersey Boys”started in the 475-seat La Jolla Playhouse, “Hamilton” began its historic run in the Powerhouse Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York, and maybe someday people will say “An Extra Penny”started in Wilson, North Carolina — and you can say “I was there.” There is enough interest in this production that it’s getting attention in New York City, the logical next step.

The Friday evening show is special. There will be limited tickets sold and a meet and greet with Mr. Worthington, Ms. Mancini and the cast. Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and drinks will be provided to attendees. Since the musical is themed around World War I, the Sunday afternoon performance will be military appreciation with special recognition to our veterans.

Hey, eastern North Carolina — this is pretty special and not likely to pass our way again.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a musical written by one of our own, produced by a Broadway producer and staged right here in our Edna Boykin Cultural Center!  It would be a shame if all three shows weren’t sold out — in fact, I’d love to see scalpers on Nash Street selling tickets.

Contact the box office at 252-291-4329 for more information and tickets. For more information, visit www.anextrapenny.com.

David Sheppard


The writer is vice president of the Arts Council of Wilson Board of Directors.