John Staton

Billy Hathorn

The decline of North Carolina’s film industry has affected the local theater community in more ways than one. Two artistic directors—Justin Smith of Cape Fear Theatre Arts and Steve Vernon of Big Dawg Productions—and John Staton, Arts & Entertainment editor for Star News, sat down with CoastLine host Rachel Lewis Hilburn. 

Rachel Lewis Hilburn: Besides the talent pool, is there any other way that the loss of the lion’s share of the film industry here has contributed to this? Steve Vernon.

Harry Taylor Photography / N.C. Arts Council

The Red Barn Theater on Third Street in downtown Wilmington, launched by Linda Lavin and Steve Bakunas, is now on the market.  It’s widely expected to cease operation as a theater.  Thalian Association, the theater company that has rented the space for the last several years, is moving out in a matter of months.

Another small Wilmington venue, the Brown Coat Theater and Pub, closed its doors in October. 

And City Stage, an iconic venue in the Masonic building on Front Street in downtown Wilmington, also recently shuttered.


The first annual Wilmington Theater Awards will honor its brightest stars tonight at Thalian Hall in downtown Wilmington.  Modeled after the Tony Awards (sans paparazzi and red carpet fashion analysis), this awards show boasts impressive musical numbers, pokes fun at members of the theater community, and stars local luminaries as presenters (hint:  Tony Award-winning Actress Linda Lavin and Mayor Bill Saffo, to name a few).