Holiday Shows A-Plenty Across Midlands Stages

christmasbells2 There's no shortage of seasonal favorites to be found around town.  The winter holidays are all about tradition; as days grow shorter, darker, and colder, we're comforted by what is familiar.  Local theatres are no exception, offering revivals of yuletide favorites, as well as productions of classics from the screen and stage.  Here are just a few!

The Waltons was a huge hit on television, but in Earl Hamner's novels and on the big screen, they were the Spencers, and Hamner adapted his memories of growing up in rural Virginia into a stage play as well.  Narrated by Clay-Boy Spencer, The Homecoming recalls a pivotal Christmas, a missing father, and lean times during the Depression. Lexington's Village Square Theatre returns with this favorite from a few seasons ago for one weekend only, December 4-7. MonaLisa Botts directs; for information, call 803-359-1436, or visit http://www.villagesquaretheatre.com.

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Similar small town warmth and values, filtered through a quirkier Southern Gothic perspective, earned Pamela Parker a Pulitzer nomination for her play Second Samuel.  West Columbia's On Stage Productions is reviving their successful production from earlier this year.  The Jasper review of that production said "like Steel Magnolias, the local ladies gather to chat at the beauty parlor, while the men convene at 'Frisky’s Bait and Brew,' the kind of place where you can get a Nehi and a Moon Pie as easily as a cold beer or a shot of whiskey...(The play) can be enjoyed at face value as a variation on Mayberry or Vicky Lawrence’s Momma’s Family, or taken at a much deeper level."

SecondSamuel2014-HolidayShow_pages Most of director Robert Harrelson's cast return, including Debra Leopard, MJ Maurer, Courtney Long, Anne Merritt Snider, Courtney Long, Sam Edelson, and Antoine T. Marion.  Run dates are December 4-13; for information, call 407-319-2596, or visit http://www.onstagesc.com/.  There will also be a special staged reading of the sequel, A Very Second Samuel Christmas  on Saturday, December 6, with the playwright in attendance - your chance to give feedback on a new  work in progress!

Town Theatre is also bringing back a popular hit, the stage adaptation by David Ives and Paul Blake of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Based on the 1954 film, this musical, nominated for multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards, is directed and choreographed by Shannon Willis Scruggs, with musical direction by Sharon McElveen Altman.  Frank Thompson and Scott Vaughan play Army buddies who stage a show at a quaint Vermont inn, encountering show biz shenanigans and romantic entanglements with Abigail Ludwig and Celeste Mills along the way.   Joining them are Bill DeWitt, Kathy Hartzog, Parker Byun, Andy Nyland, and Bob Blencowe;  the show continues this week, closing with a matinee on Sunday, December 7, and you can find a review at Onstage Columbia.

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Two other special performances are also scheduled for holiday fun. First,  Jamie Carr Harrington directs  Disney’s Sleeping Beauty - Kids, the culmination of her Fall Youth Program.  This timeless classic will magic its way into your heart this holiday season. There will be music and dancing, as well as magic spells and evil curses.  Maleficent crashes little Aurora’s Christening party, and places a curse on the baby simply because she was not invited. A urora is whisked away to the woods where she lives for 16 years.  Once upon a dream she meets a handsome stranger, who ends up being the prince who will break the spell with true love’s kiss. Come see Town Theatre’s Youth Program bring a little magic now to the stage, with ayoung beauty who pricks her finger on a spindle and falls asleep due to a curse. There will be fun bumbling fairies, happy woodland creatures, and fantastical goons. (Gotta love fantastical goons! ~ ed.) The show runs Dec. 12-14, with multiple matinee and evening performances.
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Also, Jasper Theatre Artist of the Year Finalist Frank Thompson directs A Christmas Carol Columbia - a new version of the Dickens novella, presented live on stage as a radio play, and written by James Kirk. (The author, not the captain.) This special performance will be presented just one, at 3 PM on Sunday, Dec. 21st.  For ticket information on all three productions, call 803-799-2510, or visit www.towntheatre.com.

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The St. Paul’s Players are presenting  The Fourth Wise Man, a musical adaptation of the short story “The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), an author, educator, and clergyman who is credited with writing the lyrics for “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.”  The Fourth Wise Man is the story of Artaban, portrayed by Jim Jarvis.  Other cast members are John Arnold, Brenda Byrd, Olin Jenkins, Randy Nolff, Mark Wade, and Valerie Ward.  Artaban, one of the Magi who has studied the stars, endeavors to journey with Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthazar to pay tribute to the Christ Child. He carries three gifts, a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl; however, during his travels he faces tests and challenges. What happens when he finally has the chance to meet Jesus face-to-face?

The St. Paul’s Players' production of The Fourth Wise Man will be presented in the Good Shepherd Theatre at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, on the corner of Bull and Blanding Streets in downtown Columbia.  A dinner theatre performance will be held on Friday, December 5 at 6 p.m.  The cost is $10.00 per person, with advance reservations required. Call (803) 779-0030 to make reservations.  Two more performances will be held on Saturday, December 6 at 3 p.m. andat  7 p.m. There is no cost for the Saturday performances and no required reservations. For more information, contact John W. Henry, Producer, at 803-917-1002, or Paula Benson, Director, at 803-206-4965.
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Trustus Theatre found great success last year with Patrick Barlow's post-modern adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which remained faithful to the original Dickens material, while incorporating technical wizardry, live music enhanced with synthesizer effects, and sexy, steampunk-influenced costumes for the Ghosts.  You can read the Jasper review of that production here,  but there have been a few changes for this year's iteration, with Kendrick Marion joining Director Chad Henderson and last year's cast, including Catherine Hunsinger, Avery Bateman, Scott Herr,  and Stann Gwynn as Scrooge. The show runs through December 20 on the Thigpen Main Stage.

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Trustus also has a couple of special events scheduled this month. First,  late nights are back with The Ladies of Lady Street Late Night Cabaret, featuring the best in female impersonation. Join a highly entertaining quartet of both local and guest performers on Friday December 12th at 11:00pm.  The hour-long show features an entertaining mix of female impersonation, celebrity illusions, showgirl costumes, comedy, glamour and live singing. Vista Queen Emeritus Patti O’Furniture leads a cast that features Dorae Saunders (as seen on “America’s Got Talent” and former Miss US of A at Large),  the live singing talents of Denise Russell, and Veronica La Blank (Columbia’s Wild Card of Drag.) This is the second offering of a series of four shows during Trustus’ 30th season. The show takes place on the Thigpen Mainstage;    tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online at www.trustus.org or at the door.  Doors open at 10:45pm after the evening performance of A Christmas Carol. The show is at 11:00pm. The Trustus bar will open at 10:45pm and will remain open during the show. Or, make a night of it, and check out the Trustus production of A Christmas Carol that same night at 8pm. Tickets for that show are also available online.

Mark Rapp, appearing at Trustus Theatre

Then get ready for Jingle Bell Jazz, featuring the Mark Rapp Quartet and special guests on  December 17th.  Celebrated jazz trumpeter Mark Rapp and his quartet present a grooving, swinging, funky fun Christmas concert that will leave you toasty, warm and happy for the holidays. Rapp has prepared unique jazz arrangements of such Christmas classics as: Angels We Have Heard on High, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, O Come All Ye Faithful, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer to Wham!’s Last Christmas.Rapp has performed with such distinct artists from Branford Marsalis to Hootie and the Blowfish, released 5 diverse recordings, and is featured leading and playing the closing track of Disney’s "Everybody Wants to be a Cat" CD which also features such artists as Dave Brubeck and Esperanza Spalding. Mark is a featured artist in Mellen Press' "How Jazz Trumpeters Understand Their Music" among a prestigious list including Terence Blanchard, Lew Soloff, Freddie Hubbard, Tim Hagans, Dave Douglas and more. Mark has performed in jazz festivals around the world from the Fillmore Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, WC Handy Festival, to Jazz Festivals in Switzerland, Croatia and Brazil.  The concert performance will begin at 9pm. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased from www.trustus.org.  For more information or reservations call the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays 1-6 pm at 803-254-9732 .

mistletoe Theatre Rowe is presenting  Murder Under the Mistletoe at both its Columbia and Lexington locations: Scheduled dates are:

Lexington: December 4-7, 11-14, 18-21

Columbia: December 6, 7, 11, 12, 18, 19, 21

For information, call 803-200-2012, or visit http://scdinnertheatre.com.

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Shakespeare's Kidz, the youth program of the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, presents MidWinter's Eve: A Shakespeare's Kidz Tale on December 11th, at 6:00 pm at the Richland Country Library - and it's free!  Written and directed by London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art graduate Katie Mixon, the show is a fun, family friendly, heart-warming inside look at Christmas in Elizabethan England. It's the night before Christmas, when William Shakespeare pops off for some holiday cheer with the wife for the evening. The Shakespeare brood is on their own! Young twins Judith and Hamnet dance, and duel with swords, while Susanna dreams of romance. Friends Emilia, Malvolio, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern join the party, with a search for the Yule Log, and visits from The Lord of Misrule!   Will the Shakespeare kids and their friends survive the night, or will chaos trump all?

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Featured in the cast of young performers are Elin Johnson, Joss Kim, Maize Cook, Walt Cook, Napoleon Rodriguez, Guillermo Rodriguez Oliveira, and Lindsay Knowlton.  The perforance is approximately 30 minutes;  you're encouraged to arrive at few minutes early to make your way downstairs and claim a good seat!  For more information, visit   http://www.shakespearesc.org/kidz.html.

jack frost

Columbia Children's Theatre presents Jack Frost, the world premiere of a new musical for children, with music by Paul Lindley II, and book and lyrics by Crystal Aldamuy. Run dates are December 5-14.

Something’s up with the weather.  The leaves are turning non-existent colors, unexpected snows are blanketing the orange groves and farmers are getting frost bite in the summer.  What is going on?  Is it global warming?  No, it’s Jack Frost being “creative” again. When Jack’s rebellion and yearning for self-expression start landing him in hot water, his parents The Snow Queen and The Frost King, decide that a little time spent with the industrious and practical Kringle family would teach the head-strong lad a lesson. So, in a move straight out of Trading Spaces, Jack and Crystal Kringle trade lives and suffice it to say cleaning up after reindeer is not exactly Jack’s cup of iced tea.  With a book and lyrics by Crystal-Alisa Aldamuy and music by Paul Gilbert Lindley II this wintry world premiere musical is just the thing to warm your heart!

Show Times:

~ August Krickel

"King Lear" in Finlay Park - a review by Jillian Owens

The South Carolina Shakespeare Company opens their fall season with King Lear, one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies. George Bernard Shaw once said "No man will ever write a better tragedy than Lear,”  and one can definitely see where he’s coming from. Madness, betrayal, suffering, war, and death are all over this play, and the body count is nothing short of impressive. kinglear

The elderly King Lear (Chris Cook) is ready for retirement. He plans to divide his kingdom among his  three daughters, Goneril (Raia Hirsch), Regan (Sara Blanks), and Cordelia (Katie Mixon.) But there’s  a catch: the largest quantity of land will go to the daughter who can prove she loves him most. Goneril  and Regan are perfectly happy to deliver speeches of loyalty and devotion that drip with aspartame. But  Cordelia remains stoic, saying she has nothing to compare her love to. Her frankness leads to her father  disowning her and splitting his lands between Regan and Goneril. The King of France, impressed with her honesty offers to marry her:

“Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor; most choice, forsaken;  and most lov'd, despis'd!  Thee and thy virtues here I seize upon. Be it lawful I take up what's cast  away.”

And they hop off to France.

Chris Cook as King Lear

Lear quickly learns how fickle filial loyalty can be. As soon as he relinquishes his power, he loses all  respect from both of his daughters. They chide him for being raucous, and force him to let the majority of  his entourage go. This shocking fall from power and dignity leads Lear to become more and more insane as the play progresses. The former King quickly learns that his only true friends are his now-disguised former pal Kent (Tracy Steele) whom he banished for defending Cordelia, and his Fool (played by Jeff Driggers.)

Intermingled in this main plot is further drama with a troublemaking illegitimate son by the name of  Edmund (Bobby Bloom) to the Earl of Gloucester (Richard Purday.) He tricks Gloucester - way too easily - into thinking his legitimate son Edgar (William Cavitt) plans to steal his estate.   Eyeballs are removed, women are seduced, and lots of folks die in some pretty creative ways.

Katie Mixon (center) as Cordelia - photo by Gerilyn Browning Kim

In this production of Lear, director Linda Khoury has assembled a large cast with varying skill levels and a  curious array of accents. Cook is a vulnerable and powerful Lear, and he captures his descent into madness with an intensity that evokes sympathy. Hirsh and Blanks are appropriately evil as Goneril  and Regan, and Mixon makes for a wonderful contrast as the honest and sincere Cordelia.  Edmund gets some of the best lines in the play, and Bloom delivers them with acerbic intensity:

“Wherefore should I stand in the plague of custom, and  permit the curiosity of nations to deprive me, for that I am some twelve or fourteen moonshines lag of  a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?”

Driggers plays the Fool (see what I did there?) not so much as a clown, but as a terrified young man who grasps  the gravity of a dangerous situation from which he must save his friend. There’s an urgency about this Fool that is an unexpected take on the character. Cavitt delivers one of the most challenging and high-energy  performances in the play as the selfless, though hopelessly naive, Edgar.

Richard Purday and Chris Cook - photo by Rob Sprankle

A few members of the ensemble couldn’t quite pick an accent - which was distracting - but as I said  before, this is a large cast and every actor’s performance can’t always be golden. At the preview performance I attended, there was a moment of nudity that I’m not altogether sure was simply a wardrobe  malfunction. I can’t imagine bringing small children to something as heavy as a Shakespearean  tragedy, however, so this might not be an issue for you. The key players do interesting work, and the SC  Shakespeare Company takes a straightforward interpretation of King Lear to a few surprisingly creative  places.

~ Jillian Owens

King Lear runs Wednesday, October 22 through Saturday, October 25 in the Amphitheatre in Finlay Park. Curtain is at 7:30 PM, and the Wednesday performance is free!  For more information, visit http://www.shakespearesc.org/ .

 

Shakespeare's Epic Romance "Cymbeline" - a review by Jillian Owens

cymbeline8 When I heard the South Carolina Shakespeare Company had chosen Cymbeline for their spring show, I was excited. This is one of Shakespeare’s least-performed plays.  I had never seen a production, and can’t remember the last time it was produced here in Columbia.

The South Carolina Shakespeare Company describes Cymbeline as an “epic romance,” and I have to agree that it certainly is. From its wildly complicated plot involving murder, kidnapping, attempted murder, gender-bending hilarity, deception, jealousy, battles, and a bizarre deus ex machina plot twist, “epic” seems an apt descriptor for this show.

(L-R) Bobby Bloom, Chris Cook, Katie Mixon, Libby Campbell Turner, Wela Mbusi; photo by Jeff Driggers

The play opens in Ancient Britain. King Cymbeline’s daughter, Imogen (played by Katie Mixon) has married Posthumus Leonatus (played by Bobby Bloom) against her father’s wishes. Posthumus is banished, but the two vow to work this all out somehow. Meanwhile, Cymbeline’s new wife, the Queen (played by Libby Campbell Turner) has great plans to make Imogen marry her son from a previous marriage -- the loutish Cloten (played by Scott Means) -- and then to poison Cymbeline (played by Chris Cook) and Imogen in order to secure Cloten’s position as King.

Cymbeline live in Filnay Park - photo by Jillian Owens

Bobby Bloom and Katie Mixon; photo by Jeff Driggers

Are you following along so far? Good -- because things are about to get weird. While in exile in Italy, Posthumus encounters Iachimo (played by Wela Mbusi) who  wagers that he can seduce Imogen. Posthumus, full of pride for his wife’s chastity, agrees to the bet. Iachimo meets with Imogen, who refuses his advances. Being the weirdo creepster he is, Iachimo hides in her bedroom to steal a token that will make it look as though he has been successful in his seduction while she sleeps.  Posthumus, not being the forgiving sort, sends his servant Pisanio (played by G. Scott Wild) to kill Imogen. However Pisanio, not being the murdering sort, warns Imogen, who then escapes, disguised as a young man.

Chris Cook and Libby Campbell Turner; photo by Jeff Driggers

What follows is one of the most bizarrely complicated plots I’ve seen since LOST. Someone gets beheaded. Someone is given a potion that was meant to kill them but only makes them seem dead for a bit. A battle is fought and people are imprisoned. And I promise you won’t see the twist at the end coming.

Bobby Bloom and Wela Mbusi - photo by Jeff Driggers

There’s a lot to like about the SC Shakespeare Company’s performance of Cymbeline. As I mentioned before, this play is rarely performed anymore, and it’s very different from most of Shakespeare’s other works. Theories exist that he didn’t even write Cymbeline entirely on his own. Its scarcity makes it a special treat to scholars and enthusiasts alike.

(L-R) G. Scott Wild, Katie Mixon - photo by Jillian Owens

There are also some impressive performances, most notably by Bobby Bloom as Posthumus and Katie Mixon as Imogen. Bloom’s commanding resonance and passion are perfect for his role, and Mixon makes a lovely and surprisingly empowered Imogen. Wild’s role of Pisanio may be a small one, but his moments with Imogen show a beautiful empathy that is impressive to achieve with such little stage time. Scott Means has lightened what could have been a disturbingly dark role in his interpretation of Cloten, and this choice gives this production of Cymbeline moments of much-needed frivolity.

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The extremely misogynistic themes of Cymbeline are difficult to watch, though. The men (those who don’t die anyways) have seemingly - and at times literally - earned favor with the gods, whereas Imogen, the most honorable person in the play, is continually victimized, preyed upon, and objectified. The plot is needlessly confusing at times, as if Shakespeare was just seeing how many strange things he could throw into a play. Who knows? That might be the case. You should also be warned that this is a long show, clocking in at about three hours with a 15 minute intermission, so be sure you’re prepared to make a night of it.

Even though I can understand why it isn’t one of the Bard’s most popular works, I admire the South Carolina Shakespeare Company and director Linda Khoury for taking on such a work as Cymbeline and bringing it to a public that might otherwise never see this strange part of his canon.

~ Jillian Owens

Cymbeline runs Wednesday through Saturday, May 7—10, 2014 at 8:00 PM in the amphitheatre in Finlay Park.  Admission is free, although  a donation of $10 is a suggested. If you will attend with a large party, please arrive early for the best seating.  The Finlay Park Amphitheatre is at 930 Laurel Street, Columbia, SC 29201.  So hie thee hence from thy computer screen and sally forth post-haste to Finlay Park!

For more information, please call 803-787-2273 or visit www.ShakespeareSC.org .

Come early (6:00PM) before the Thursday May 8th performance, and you and your family can also enjoy Shakespeare’s Kidz (the SCSC’s new school-aged company, directed by Imogen actress Katie Mixon) as they take the stage with a re-telling of a classic using humor, some modern language, and sword fighting in Don’t Say Macbeth!

 

 

Jasper Goes to the Library with the SC Shakespeare Company, Tues. 5/6 at the Cooper Branch!

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In the latest installment of the popular "Jasper Goes to the Library" series, theatre is the featured art form, with scenes from Shakespeare's Cymbeline performed by members of the South Carolina Shakespeare Company on Tuesday, May 6 at 6:30 PM, at the Cooper Branch of the Richland Library, located at 5317 N. Trenholm Rd., Columbia, SC 29206,  in Forest Acres.

Over the last six months, Jasper – the Word on Columbia Arts – has partnered with artists in each of six disciplines – visual art, film, literary art, music, dance, and now theatre – in special events at different locations of the Richland Library. The goal has been to engage community members, arts enthusiasts, and library patrons in an intimate setting, allowing for them to enjoy presentations by artists, and develop a better understanding of each discipline.

Bobby Bloom and Katie Mixon; photo by Jeff Driggers

Join Cymbeline cast members and veteran local actors Chris Cook (founder of High Voltage Theatre), Libby Campbell Turner (recalled as the mother in August: Osage County), Katie Mixon (a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art) and Bobby Bloom (a finalist for the 2013 Jasper Theatre Artist of the Year) as they present scenes from the play in the intimate setting of the Cooper Branch. This library event takes place at 6:30 PM on Tuesday May 6, 2014, will last approximately 45 minutes, and is FREE!

The South Carolina Shakespeare Company will perform Cymbeline in its entirety live in Finlay Park,  Wednesday through Saturday, May 7—10.

Chris Cook and Libby Campbell Turner; photo by Jeff Driggers

Cymbeline features forbidden love, mistaken identity, banishment, and a magic potion; Shakespeare weaves multiple threads into this endlessly inventive tapestry of ancient Britain. You will also find laughter, betrayal, and of course an evil queen. When the brave princess Imogen is falsely accused of betrayal, she escapes her father’s court and sets forth on a treacherous journey to redeem her place and reunite with her true love—but it might take a miracle or two. Shakespeare companies around the country are re-discovering this stirring and poetic tale. The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC produced the play to popular success last season, and now director Linda Khoury has assembled a top-notch cast right here in SC, and local audiences have a rare opportunity to see Cymbeline.

The title character, King Cymbeline, is played by Christopher Cook. He is joined by Katie Mixon as Imogen, Libby Campbell-Turner as the Queen, Wela Mbusi as Iachimo, and Robert Bloom as Posthumous, with Jeff Driggers as Guiderius and G. Scott Wild as Pisanio. The professional cast is supported by costume designer Alexis Doktor, scenic designer Lee Shepherd, and lighting designer Rufus Carson.

For more information on the performance in Finlay Park, visit http://www.shakespearesc.org/cymbeline.html

The Cooper Branch of the Richland Library is located at 5317 N. Trenholm Rd., Columbia, SC 29206; phone: 803-787-3462.

Midlands Theatres Announce New Seasons!

Dueling Shreks.  Dueling Les Miserables. Dueling Clybourne Parks, dueling Hamlets ...well, I guess technically any production of Hamlet is a dueling Hamlet.  Neil Simon and Anthony Shaffer. Tom Stoppard and John Guare. Tammy Wynette and Patsy Cline. Dracula and Frankenstein, Ash and Elvis.  Revivals of classics, and brand-new shows direct from Broadway. Looks like there is something for everyone in the next year! I'm not sure that Jasper has ever broken any news before, but to my knowledge, this is the first report from last week's "One Last Hurrah" celebration at the Art Bar, the culmination of One Month, One Columbia. Representatives from many of the area's theatres announced their seasons for 2013-2014.  A few were not able to make it, and I've lifted some titles and dates from their websites.  Others do a calendar year format rather than a "school year," so in those cases I've listed what info is available.

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First Disclaimer: I have not included commercial venues (like the Township, the Koger Center, etc.) that book productions, but they have some great shows coming up too.  Nor have I included one-time shows, high school shows (however excellent they may be), church and religion-based events, dance and music productions, etc.  I'm all in favor of those too, but this is about local community and professional theatres.

Second Disclaimer: theatre seasons often change, so this is in no way a definitive or comprehensive listing.  Look for something in a future print issue of Jasper - The Word on Columbia Arts for details and more specific dates and information.

Third Disclaimer: the event was held at the Art Bar, so my memory may not be perfect.  If there's anything significant that I have listed incorrectly, drop me a note at akrickel@jaspercolumbia.com .

That said, in no particular order, we have the following shows to look forward to!

Town Theatre

Les Miserables - September

The Foreigner - late fall

Elvis Has Left the Building - January

Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story - March

Shrek: The Musical - May

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High Voltage Theatre

Dracula (a new stage version by Chris Cook, developed in collaboration with Dacre Stoker, great-grand-nephew of Bram Stoker) at the West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater - October 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, 30-31

classic thriller at Tapp's Art Center (details tba) - February

classic thriller at West Columbia Riverwalk Amphitheater (details tba) - Spring

..........

USC's Theatre South Carolina

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard - Sept. 27 - Oct. 5 at Drayton Hall

The Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov - Nov. 15-23 at Longstreet Theatre

The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow - Feb. 21 -  March 1 - Longstreet Theatre

Hamlet by William Shakespeare (OK, like you didn't know that) - April 18-26 - venue tba

plus a full season of black box shows (details tba)

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Stage 5 Theatre

Hamlet - September

Lombardi - November

Special Holiday Event - December

Clybourne Park – April

..........

Lexington Arts Association (at the Village Square Theatre)

Shrek: The Musical - September 20 - October 6

Steel Magnolias - November 1 - November 10

Always…Patsy Cline - December 6 - December 15 (non-season show)

9 to 5: The Musical - January 17 – January 26

Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka JR. - March 7 - March 23

a musical revue (details tba) - May 9 - May 18

..........

Workshop Theatre

Beehive - September

Sleuth - late fall

Crimes of the Heart - January

Biloxi Blues - March

Young Frankenstein - May (including Frau ....BLUCHER!)

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Theatre Rowe

Murder Ahoy! - June 27 - July 28

Over the River and Through the Woods - August 16-17, 23-25

The Altos (tentative) - September 20-22, 27-29

Little Shop of Horrors - October 18-19, 25-26, 31

tragedy-and-comedy

Chapin Theatre Company

How to Eat Like A Child (based on the book by Delia Ephron) - Aug. 2-4 at the Old Chapin Firehouse / American Legion Building

Unnecessary Farce, by Paul Slade Smith -  Sept. 19-22, 26-28 at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College

..........

South Carolina Shakespeare Company

Hamlet - Oct. 16 - 26

Les Miserables - Apr. 16 - May 3

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On Stage Productions

An Evening of One-Acts - September

Yes, Virginia - The Musical - December

Second Samuel - February

Hey G - April

..........An Evening of One Acts -  September - 

Columbia Children's Theatre

The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley - September

Ho Ho Ho! - November/December

Puss In Boots (a new comic version by CCT's Jerry Stevenson) - February

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fair(l)y (Stoopid) Tales - April

The Commedia Snow White - June

..........

Trustus Theatre

Thigpen Main Stage:

Ragtime - September

Venus in Fur - November

A Christmas Carol - December

Clybourne Park - January-February

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, by Tom Stoppard, with music by Andre Previn; featuring the SC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Morohiko Nakahara - Feb.-March

See Rock City and Other Destinations - spring

The House of Blue Leaves - May

Evil Dead: The Musical - summer - groovy.

Winner of the Playwrights' Festival - August

Side Door Theatre

Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche (returning from its sold-out run in January) - Fall

El Diario De un Psiquiatra (A Psychiatrist's Diary) - a world premiere by Julia Vargas, presented in Spanish by La Tropa - November

Love, Lost and What I Wore, by Delia Ephron - January

a NiA Company show - Spring

Off-Off-Lady Series

The Adding Machine (pending rights) April 24-May 4 - venue tba

In the Red and Brown Water - June - at the Harbison Theatre

..........

WOW (Walking on Water) Productions

Confessions of a Good Man - a new play by local authors Tangie Beaty, Donna Johnson, and Kevin A. Rasberry - July 25-28 at the Harbison Theatre

other original works in 2013-14 - TBA

..........

If you didn't notice, including the groups collaborating in the Side Door, that's 15 different theatre groups!  In little bitty Columbia, SC - who knew?  Well, you probably did, since as I'm saying more and more these days... Columbia has always been a theatre town.  Look for details on all of the above in coming months here, and in print issues of Jasper - The Word on Columbia Arts. And many thanks to Larry Hembree and Debora Lloyd, the co-chairs for Theatre for OneColumbia, for organizing and facilitating One Last Hurrah!

~ August Krickel

 

Sunday in the Park with Jane (& other Quirky Manners of the Landed Gentry) - Arik Bjorn reviews "Pride & Prejudice"

Though American society seems to have disposed itself entirely of formal introductions, carefully-constructed speech, and scripted courtships, we remain obsessed with British mannerisms.  As if popular shows like Downton Abbey and all of the other series tossed to us across the pond via Masterpiece Theatre were not evidence enough, there seems to be a revival of 19th-century British literature, as theatre.  Every week one sees a new Hollywood film, miniseries, television show, and even detective series inspired by the works of the Bronte Sisters, Jane Austen, George Eliot and the like. South Carolina Shakespeare Company Artistic Director Linda Khoury agrees:  “We are Anglophiles at heart.  And there’s this Jane Austen fever at the moment.  When we asked Company members about whether or not to do Pride & Prejudice this season, they said, ‘Oh my God, Mr. Darcy!  Yes!’”

The works of Jane Austen seem to be everyone’s current favorite landed-gentry flavor; the stage adaptation of Pride & Prejudice by playwright and former Actors Theatre of Louisville Artistic Director Jon Jory has been staged by a number of classical theatre companies across the country in recent years.  At first, this fact might seem incongruous:  why would classical theatres be attracted to a story seemingly imprisoned within a 19th-century manor and its well-groomed grounds?  Yet when one rolls an Austen novel onto the stage, what one finds is something closely resembling Shakespeare’s romantic comedies—only refreshingly absent multiple pairs of separated twins wandering about Asia Minor looking for one another.

In fact, halfway through the SC Shakespeare Company’s production of Pride & Prejudice, the thought occurred to me that the pompous clergyman Mr. Collins—played with impeccable comedic timing by veteran Columbia actor George Spelvin—was just one pair of yellow stockings and crossed garters short of a Malvolio.  This is the kind of character determination one gets from “seeing” an Austen novel rather than reading it.  The same is true with a number of other characters; for instance, Elizabeth Bennet, the axis upon which the tale’s many love stories turn, and with whom theatre patrons are likely to fall for thanks to a wonderful performance by the lovely Katie Mixon, is really just a slightly less histrionic, though equally stubborn, version of Shakespeare’s Beatrice.

Of course, one gets a bit more black box production value with a show in the park.  There are no panorama shots of the Hertfordshire countryside, nor horse-drawn carriages—although I will admit that watching local thespian hoot Clark Wallace as Mr. Gardiner pretend to guide an imaginary carriage horse is, at times, far more entertaining than anything BBC could deliver.  And one never knows what surprises lay in store for a live show at Finlay Park—from remote-control airplanes making cameo appearances to gospel choirs suddenly breaking into jubilant song across the way, to a pair of hobo wayfarers wandering across the stage.  Then again, one might also behold the serendipitous timing of a local church bell ringing just as Mr. Bingley steals a kiss from Elizabeth’s sister, Jane.

Sometimes in set design, simplicity says everything, and one must applaud set designer Lee Shepherd for presenting the Britain of two centuries ago with two principal pieces:  a pair of monumental lattice windows through which we metaphorically peak into the lives of the Bennet family, and a pair of matching staircases to represent their leisurely, gentlemanly and gentlewomanly lives.  Yet nothing is simple about the period costume work of Alexis Doctor (profiled in the Jasper 006 cover story) ; she provides sumptuous costumes which help the actors and patrons alike fall backward naturally in time.

The story of Pride & Prejudice is well-known; however, if there is a gap in your knowledge of world literature, simply know that Mr. & Mrs. Bennet of Meryton, Hertfordshire, near London, have five daughters of marrying age, whom must wend their way through the labyrinth of British customs and breeding to find satisfactory mates—and do whatever it takes to avoid marrying Clergyman Collins.

There are many fine performances in the production in addition to the work of Spelvin and Mixon.  Every Austen story needs its somewhat feather-headed parents:  Alfred Kern delivers a delightful performance as Mr. Bennet, played perfectly like Jim Broadbent on Prozac; and Ruth Glowacki as Mrs. Bennet keeps the audience tittering with her “a’ plenty palpitations.”  All of the Bennet daughters are well cast to their respective personalities, but one especially delights in the ‘poo-poo’ naughtiness of the scandalous youngest daughter, Lydia, played by Sirena Dib.  Sting lookalike Tracy Steele provides a complex portrayal of the strong-yet-meek Mr. Bingley, and Sara Blanks plays his strident, gossiping sister, Caroline Bingley, with equal solidity.  And Mrs. Gardiner is played by local attorney Raia Hirsch, who returns to the stage after many years, having not skipped a theatrical beat.

Last but not least, one must present a standing ovation to Company Stage Manager, Paula Peterson, whose work and dedication to the Shakespeare Company, as well as to many other Columbia community and professional theatre productions over the years, deserves accolades and recognition.  One simply cannot understand the mind-bending machinations required to stage a live production out-of-doors—let alone a show where the backstage is actually an island with a watery moat.

The SC Shakespeare Company recently participated in Cheer from Chawton, a one-woman show about the life of Jane Austen that was performed at USC’s Drayton Hall in September.  In the show, one learns that Austen’s own childhood was spent entertaining her family with “little theatricals,” so perhaps the great author herself would delight in seeing her two-century-old popular tale brought to life on stage.

As director Khoury explains, it makes sense for the Shakespeare Company to do just so for a fellow British storyteller:  “Austen is a complement to the Bard.  They both distill everything through characterization.  And, of course, Austen has that certain sense and sensibility.”

~ Arik Bjorn

Pride & Prejudice runs throughout October in the Finlay Park Amphitheatre with performances on October 17-20 and October 24-27 at 7:30 p.m.  Performances are free!  If you would like to reserve group seating, plus call:  803.787.BARD.  Finlay Park is located in downtown Columbia, on the block bounded by Assembly Street, Laurel Street, Gadsden Street, and Taylor Street, behind the main post office.  (The amphitheater is on the Laurel Street side.)  To learn more about the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, visit www.shakespearesc.org or visit the Company’s Facebook page.

 

 

Shakespeare in Finlay Park, Grease at Town, Wild Party at Workshop

April was the month for several hundred amazing cultural events all going on seemingly at once. The hubbub may have died down a bit, but there's still plenty to do in May, especially if you're an enthusiast of live theatre.  For example, did you know Columbia regularly has Shakespeare in the Park?  Who needs New York? This spring, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company is presenting a comic tribute to not one but all of Shakespeare's works, first in Finlay Park this week, then at Saluda Shoals next week.  The show opens with a preview performance tonight, Tues. May 15th, and then continues Wed. through Sat. (5/19) in the Finlay Park Amphitheatre, with all shows starting at 7:30 PM.  The cast then migrates to Saluda Shoals Park for three more performances, Thurs. May 25th through Sat. May 27th, with all shows again at 7:30 PM.

From their press release:

 

SC Shakespeare Company has a sense of humor about its patron saint!

For the past 19 years, SC Shakespeare has given Columbia a great many of the Bard’s most famous plays from The Taming of the Shrew to Henry V. This spring, they wanted to give Columbia audiences something a little different but very enjoyable for patrons and their families.

The company presents The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer, and Jess Winfield. It's been performed internationally, including hit productions all over the US and Europe.  The show pays homage to Shakespeare as much as it mocks him, and is actually a fair introduction to the Bard for a first-timer by watching the players dance, act, parody, and soliloquize through Shakespeare's works, raucously and without regard to political correctness. And, while the play pokes fun at the Bard’s works, it never looks down on the actual writings, showing a great deal of respect for both the material and the author.

Directed by Robert Bloom, the three players - Jeff Driggers, Marques Moore, and Elizabeth Stepp - are a young and vibrant trio, entertaining and involving the audience as much as possible in skewering all 37 of the Bard’s plays in one two hour show (with intermission)!   The comedy is edgy - demanding craft: even the simplest gags require taste, timing, discipline, and the willingness to push things to the limit but not beyond. The end result: both homage and honest fun!

Come out with family and friends for a raucous evening of laughter.

For more information, please visit www.ShakespeareSC.org or call 803-787-2273.

We must note that Bloom made a vigorous and assertive Benvolio in a Finlay Park Romeo and Juliet a few years ago, smacking down those Capulets like flies, and Stepp has caught our eye with some amusing performances at Columbia Children's Theatre, so we suspect this is a show not to be missed.

In other news, there are three other great shows also running in town currently, and it's not the worst of dilemmas, at least in the broader sense, to have to figure out which great performance you want to see first, since there's something for just about every taste.  By now you already know about the new show at Trustus, In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play, which runs through Sat. May 26th. (If not, my review is at http://jaspercolumbia.net/blog/?p=1478.)  Town Theatre meanwhile is presenting Grease, and there's a review at www.OnstageColumbia.com .  This show has been held over, and now also runs through Sat. May 26th. Most recently, Andrew Lippa's Wild Party just opened this weekend at Workshop Theatre, and there's a review for it as well at the same site.  Sure enough, it too runs through Sat. 26th, meaning Sunday the 27th will be a sad day for local theatre-goers.  Not to worry - pick up a copy of the new Jasper - The Word of Columbia Arts (issue # 5, which is being released in about 3 hours) for details on what shows are being done this summer!    And look for a review of The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) from Jillian Owens in a few days at that same site, www.OnstageColumbia.com .

~ August Krickel

Catch Shakespeare Under The Stars This Weekend at Saluda Shoals Park

What a delight it was last Saturday at Saluda Shoals Park to catch the SC Shakespeare Company perform a reading of The Most Excellent and Tragical Historie of Arthur, King of Britain, a play within a novel by New York author Arthur Phillips. John Freeman as Mordred plots the overthrow of Arthur.

To hear the robust delivery of Shakespeare’s lines amid the occasional hoot of an owl or hum of crickets is a rare pleasure, providing an example of the outdoor theater experience that can become a regular source of enjoyment for Midlands audiences if fund-raising for a proper outdoor venue is successful.

Before the performance, Phillips gave a talk about his novel, The Tragedy of Arthur, copies of which were available for purchase, with proceeds going to the park’s planned “Nature’s Theater,” a grand outdoor performance venue, the plans for which include a covered stage, seating for 500 with a lawn to accommodate 500 more, and a rooftop event space. I get really excited at the thought of seeing the SC Shakespeare Company and other esteemed performers regularly on a glorious outdoor stage cradled in nature’s womb.

Until that happens, however, you can see the SC Shakespeare Company open its 2011-12 season with one of the Bard’s earliest and funniest plays, The Comedy of Errors, this weekend at Saluda Shoals Park. Directed by Scott Blanks, the production will put a decidedly modern, World War II twist on the play, which gets so many of its laughs from hilarious episodes of mistaken identity and slapstick. Performances run nightly through Saturday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. at Saluda Shoals Park, in conjunction with unearth: a celebration of naturally inspired art (culminating on Sunday, October 2,  from 1-5  p.m. with performances, poetry readings and art being created outdoors at the park).

Tickets for Comedy of Errors are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. If you can’t make those performances, the Company also will perform The Comedy of Errors at Finlay Park from Wednesday through Saturday, October 12-15, at 8 p.m. nightly. For more information, call 803-787-2273.