Chapel Hill history takes the stage Saturday as the PlayMakers Repertory Company premieres Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel."
The production comes during the centennial celebration of the birthday of Wolfe, a UNC alumnus. Ketti Frings' play adaptation is a coming-of-age story based on Wolfe's own alienation and escape from an alcoholic father, a neglectful mother and a chronically sick brother.
The historical significance of the production is not lost on Liam Gearity, whose role as Wolfe's alter-ego Eugene Gant marks his PlayMakers debut.
"When this came around, I knew it was the anniversary of (Wolfe's) birth, and it became an exciting time to do it," Gearity said. "It's a great part, and it was a production I really wanted to join.
"Chapel Hill was his sanctuary, much more than a college - Chapel Hill became kind of a heaven for him."
Broadway veteran Jonathan Bolt, who plays Eugene's father, made his professional debut in the original Broadway production of "Look Homeward, Angel" in the role of Eugene. He canceled another job to come back to the Wolfe story, with which he still identifies.
"(Wolfe) spoke to all of us young men who were about to search the big world," Bolt said. "And 42 years later, I have grown into the other role . It's a real thrill to come back to the play that started your career."
PlayMakers has a long history with Wolfe beyond the play's forthcoming run. In addition to the "Look Homeward, Angel" production, Wolfe was a founding member of the Carolina PlayMakers in 1918, which became the professional PlayMakers Repertory in 1976.
"Look Homeward, Angel," will open on Saturday at 8 p.m., and will run through Nov. 12. Call 962-7529 for ticket information.
The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at email@example.com.