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.
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."
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
~ August Krickel