Words, Words, Words: Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to USC by Haley Sprankle


“Come in, take a seat on the couch.”


I walked into Professor Robert Richmond’s office, and saw pictures everywhere of various productions he has directed both at the university and around the country.


Most of these productions are the works of Mr. William Shakespeare himself.


From April 14-30, the University of South Carolina is hosting Shakespeare’s First Folio, and since all the world’s a stage, there will be a myriad of ways Columbians can experience these exquisite and well-known works.


“The First Folio is a book that was created seven years after Shakespeare’s death, and is really the book that gave us Shakespeare’s works. Without that compilation of his plays, we probably would have lost many of them, and he wouldn’t have been the most performed playwright in the world. So it seemed appropriate that we should program a number of events.” Richmond explained. “The Tempest, which is the Main Stage production in Drayton Hall, was seemingly fitting because it was his last play and was his farewell to the theatre in many ways.”


The Tempest isn’t the only production on campus to catch a hint of the bard though. Louis Butelli will star in the one-man production and original piece, Gravedigger’s Tale (April 21-23, Longstreet Theatre) and a group of players will perform in an outdoor production titled “Jukebox Shakespeare” (April 23, outside of Thomas Cooper Library).


Gravedigger’s Tale is an interactive audience piece in which the audience is given a human bone and on the bone is a question. Louis Butelli, playing the gravedigger, invites the audience in a random order to ask a question, and he gives the answer back all in Shakespeare except for just a couple of little adjoining words that get in from A to B,” Richmond elaborates. “Jukebox Shakespeare will be a traveling troupe of Shakespearean players who will perform different scenes, monologues, speeches, and soliloquies on the green outside of the library. It will revolve around the crowd because it’s just really based on passers-by. People will be able to take requests from the ‘greatest hits’ of Shakespeare, so we have everything from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet to Twelfth Night to Richard III to Henry V.”


Clearly, Richmond is no stranger to innovation. His productions often include unique takes on familiar pieces that transform the work and drop audiences into completely different worlds.

Tempest 2


“Well, I think every generation has to redefine him [Shakespeare] in that it has to become accessible and exciting and it needs to be something that a younger generation can understand and feel a part of and complicit in the action,” Richmond says. “So The Tempest is actually a weird play because it has a reputation of being very serious, but actually there’s huge amounts of fun in it. There’s clowns, magic, and fantasy characters. I wanted to try and do a production that is sort of Pan’s Labyrinth meets Shakespeare, but it has to have a sort of an appeal to our sensibilities so that we understand the science fiction of it, the fantasy element of it. Ours is not the sandy beach, castaway version of the play. Ours is a Lord of the Rings version of the play with Celtic music that is obviously very evocative that really tells the audience and makes them think about what it would be like to be stranded on an island.”


Outside of USC’s theatrics, the Thomas Cooper Library will host classes, discussions, and speeches from people such as Shakespearean scholar Stephen Orgel, the First Folio exhibit “Much Ado About Shakespeare” will be open in Hollings Library, and the South Carolina Shakespeare Company will perform Merry Wives of Windsor in Finlay Park.


“To me, it’s less about the book and more about the humanity that is in the book,” Richmond closes. “The book itself is significant; it’s changed the way that we think, the way that we talk, the language that we use. In that book are 1,700 words that had never been spoken before. His [Shakespeare’s] influence on the language that English-speakers share across the world is huge. But the book itself is just a book; it’s about what is in the book and what the book says to each and every one of us.”


For more information about the upcoming events this month, go to http://library.sc.edu/p/FirstFolio!

Darling Dilettante Does Politics: Cory Alpert 2016

12549026_10206164677129510_1117567439076405965_n by: Haley Sprankle

The University of South Carolina’s student body elections take place today, and it’s no surprise that local actor and arts enthusiast Cory Alpert’s name would come up.

Throughout the community, Alpert has be involved in a myriad of different large-scale projects from spearheading the SC Flood Relief movement within hours of the crisis to helping run and organize events like Famously Hot New Year. He’s been seen working on and backstage at Trustus Theatre, and is even a graduate of their Apprentice Company.

So why does a college election matter to Columbia?

Often, there seems to be a disconnect between the community of Columbia and the university environment. As a student, I’ve found that my peers on campus rarely know about the arts community and all it has to offer, while I’ve also found that my peers in Columbia are rarely aware of the work the students are putting out there.

That’s where Alpert comes in.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to sit down with the student body presidential candidate to get his thoughts on how he can better serve the students, the community, and how he can bridge the gap between the two.

Q: What makes you different from the other candidates?


Alpert: Unlike the other candidates, I’ve put forward a platform and a vision for USC that will help move us into the 21st century. My plan is realistic and pragmatic, with an understanding of the limitations of student government. We aren’t promising a fix to parking (which would require a change in state law), and we’re focusing on making USC a more inclusive place. I’ve shown this community my work ethic, and I’ve shown that I know how to get results. I don’t issue empty promises. A lot of that goes back to the community that raised me. I grew up in the Columbia arts community, and that’s become a formative part of who I am. We were taught to dream big and how to find ways to make those dreams a reality. We were taught to love each other unconditionally, even when someone makes a mistake. To me, that’s what we should have in a leader. How do you plan to connect the community of Columbia to the student community of USC?

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some incredible leaders around the city. I’ve come to believe that USC deserves to have a stronger relationship with the city, and students ought to have access to the incredible resources that we have to offer. I am always disappointed when I don’t see students filling our local theatres, or coming to events on Main Street, or eating at some of the wonderful restaurants in town. That’s something that I think we can fix. The biggest problem is awareness. By partnering with businesses and leveraging the visibility of student government, I’ll be encouraging students to go experience what Columbia has on offer. I’ll also be working with these businesses to make sure they’re coming on campus - that they are reaching out to students. This is about working, not waiting. My administration will be working to make sure that students have access to the career opportunities, leaders, resources, and events that our city has.

What issues do you feel are most important to our campus?

I think there’s a general sense that we’ve had enough talk on campus. There are groups and individuals who are trying to find ways to make this campus better, and they’re being met with a brick wall. We deserve to have leaders who aren’t full of talk. Whether it’s the clear race issues on campus that are arising every year, or the issue of being inclusive for our trans siblings on campus, or even the issues that Student Government has no power over like parking and wifi, students feel like their words are stuck in an echo chamber. It’s time that we have leadership on campus that works collaboratively to make sure that this campus is a better place every day.

You've talked about lowering tuition--how do you plan to actually lobby for and go through with that?

My plan calls for a reduced cost of attendance, and we’ll be working for something called open educational resources. Tuition is set by the state, and it would take something akin to an act of God to reduce that. But one thing that we can feasibly tackle are the cost of textbooks on this campus. After being introduced to OERs, I got really excited and wanted to learn more. Then, my campaign team and I spent a few weeks meeting with OER repositories and doing our research about how they’ve been implemented across the country. What we’ve found is that the average student at USC pays $1,008 per year on textbooks. That skyrockets to $1,500 per semester for freshmen. These costs hit minority and first-generation students the hardest. However, OERs, which are textbooks written by some of the top faculty in the country and used at our peer institutions, can help drive those costs down. While $500 per semester may not seem like much, that’s money that we’re saving students and allowing them to be successful without breaking the bank. The biggest roadblock to their implementation is simply awareness. So we’ll be doing what UMass Amherst did when they saved students over $1 million when they implemented OERs, by sitting down with faculty and academic administration to convince them to switch over to these resources. After a few conversations already, professors at USC are excited about these resources and want to make sure their students have the chance to be successful regardless of their income level. All it takes are a few leaders willing and able to do the work to make the switch a reality.

What are your biggest hopes for this student body if you're president?

At the end of the day, it comes down to having a culture at USC that’s better than when we found it. It’s about being a part of a team that works to make USC a more inclusive and supportive place every single day. I want to leave office and have people feel that they can change this campus for the better. I’m in a really fortunate position, because I don’t need to bolster my resume with this office, so I’m in a great position to work with students and make sure that they can do something great. Student Government ought to work for the students, and it ought to dream big for where we should be. Rather than trying to fix problems that student government has no control over, I’m presenting a vision of a USC that works for every student, and allows them to be successful throughout their lives because of their time on our campus.



As a long time friend and fellow advocate of both my school and city, I’ll be voting for Cory today. Let’s start now and change this school for the better!

Check out Cory Alpert's campaign video here.

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More than Magic: USC’s Green Room Productions presents She Kills Monsters

12632881_10206878192771666_333545778_o by: Haley Sprankle

“Some people run, some people paint, and some people play D&D.”

Green Room Productions, the completely student-run production company at the University of South Carolina, presents Qui Nguyen’s play She Kills Monsters.

The play follows Agnes Evans, a woman who lost her parents and younger sister Tilly in a car crash, as she moves out of her childhood home. While packing up, she discovers her sister’s Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) campaign book, and she takes on the journey to learn more about herself, her sister, and how to cope with loss.

“I think that the play makes a lot of statements. On the surface, it's a celebration of ‘nerd culture’ and misfits and kids who may be a little different,” junior Brooke Smith, playing Agnes, explains. “But, the biggest statement that it makes is on how people deal with grief and what it takes to process tragedies in our own lives.”

Graduate student Ryan Stevens returns to the director’s chair with this production. His work was last seen in the USC Lab Theatre where he directed his original piece Player King, but he has also produced some intimate staged-readings of other original works since then.

The crew is full of USC seasoned regulars with Megan Branham (lighting designer), Jordan Young (sound designer), Rebecca Shrom (costume designer), Kira Neighbors (stage manager), and Grace Ann Roberts (assistant director/choreographer). They have put together a technical show with impressive and complex design elements. Also, with the USC Theatre Department’s season in full swing, Stevens was able to accrue a sizeable, talented group of students to be a part of this production.

Photo by Alexandra Herstik

“This cast is extremely diverse. Yet again, I’ve drawn extensively from Columbia’s improv community and brought in a few people who are relatively new to the acting game, because the script, in my mind, dictates a large amount of looseness and freedom and natural reaction from its actors,” Stevens elaborates. “These twelve actors are all giving their all to immerse themselves in the worlds of the play, both real and imaginary. This script has most of its actors playing multiple roles, or multiple versions of the same character, so it’s really a great showcase for their range, and they are absolutely rising to the occasion.”

One of the new kids on the block is junior Corey Drennon. Drennon was showcased previously this year through the Overreactors improv group, but she has not pursued theatre since high school. Adopting the role of Tilly Evans, Drennon has had to learn how to bring a deceased character to life.

“Tilly is exuberant, imaginative, and steadfast, especially when it comes to her friends. She’s funny and extremely sarcastic. Tilly has a spark in her--she definitely goes against the crowd. In a field of flowers facing the sun, she’s facing the opposite way,” Drennon highlights.

This complex character leads her sister into a world that not everyone gets to experience in their lives--the elaborate world of Dungeons and Dragons.

“I’d actually never played D&D until my freshman year. I thought that it was just a very long-winded and jargon-heavy sort of board game, with all the maps, graph paper, figurines, dice, and huge books, because that’s how it always looks on TV,” Stevens relays. “It was a really refreshing surprise when I found out the game is mostly imaginative. Sure you have like a sheet of character information, and you have dice, but it really is just a lot of world-building with friends. It’s a very communal game, all about working together to tell, and participate in, this story that no one really knows how it’ll turn out.”

Get a feel for that D&D experience February 4-7 at Benson Theatre. Tickets are $5 at the door, with limited seating available.

“I think audiences will be charmed by the fantasy of the escapism and the spectacle of this magic, Lord of the Rings-on-Adderall type of world we’re creating,” Stevens adds. “But I think once they’re charmed, they’ll find a lot in common with Agnes in her attempt to reconnect with her late sister. It’s a very human longing, the longing to have known someone better, all the more exacerbated after that person has been lost. It’s very much a play about bonding and connection, whether through a sense of capital-H Honor, through family bonds, or just plain old love.”

Darling Dilettante: Blooming into your best, creative self this 2016 by Haley Sprankle

  the author, left



“HOLIDAY DANCE CLASS, $10, 2:00 p.m.” the Instagram post read. All I could think was how out of shape I was, especially dance-wise.


Dance has always been a passion of mine, whether I’m watching or partaking in it, but I’ve never been able to make the time to pursue it consistently. Recently, I’ve been in a funk where I want to dance so badly, but due to my schedule, funds, time, or a combination of the three, I’m rarely able to.


On that Sunday afternoon, however, I decided I had to make it happen.


I texted my friend Grace Ann and we both decided we would go. Whether we felt confident, or not, and we headed to the new Bloom Healing Arts Studio to try something new.


“Arts therapies are so healing for many. It is necessary to process the worries and struggles of daily life and release those emotions associated with them. Some people are okay with just talking them out, but highly creative people need other options, in my opinion” studio co-owner Mandy Applegate Bloom said. “I think that's the beauty and the curse of being an artist--many of us have a deeply dark side. It can produce some beautiful art, but we must be sure to take care of all aspects of ourselves. I believe that regarding our dark side as a necessary part of the self and not repressing it is important, but I also believe none of us should foster our own suffering for art's sake. We can most definitely heal the suffering part, and let our art evolve into something more mature and healthy. For those who haven't explored their inner creativity, it may be a way for them to bring out some deep emotions as well, then let them go in the form of art, dance, writing, or making music.”


Bloom Healing Arts Studio opened in August 2015, and has offered classes in yoga, dancing, hooping, and stretching, as well as services in life coaching, nutritional therapy, Migun thermal massage bed, energy work, chakra reading/balancing, Reiki, and meditation. With such positive energy flowing through the studio, I immediately felt welcome and at ease when I walked in.


“I once visited an all-encompassing, multi-practitioner wellness center in Greenville. It offered all types of healing modalities, from acupuncture to massage to colon hydrotherapy. There were two up there, actually. The one I felt drawn to also had a health food cafe and a new age bookstore,” Applegate Bloom said. “I moved back to Columbia and realized that was my dream- to open something dynamic in the way of healing in my home town, and have all of my friends and connections in the healing and spiritual realm join me!”


When we got into the studio this comforting vibe that Applegate Bloom and her studio exudes filled the room, but there was still one catch: we had no mirrors. I was expected to let go of my perfectionist disposition and just dance. Needless to say, I had no idea how this was going to go.


“We’re going to start off with a warm-up, but I wanna focus a lot more on safe, well-rounded stretching.”


Applegate Bloom led us in a warm-up composed of some familiar dance stretches and isolations with a bit of a yoga twist on them. It was different, and it challenged me, but I felt the benefits immediately.


Leading us across the floor, Applegate Bloom helped both myself and Grace Ann let go and have fun as we tried different old-school showgirl steps and high kicks. Both of us had taken classes before and both of us had performed around Columbia before, but this was out of our comfort zone… And it was fun.


“I believe we are already very well connected to the arts community as we have both been very active local performers (we’ve both been on hiatus since having the baby, but plan on getting back out there as soon as she starts sleeping through the night). I think the yoga and specifically the dance classes are going to be very popular within the theatre and dance community. Our studio space is available to rent for any groups wanting to have an intimate performance or rehearsal space and we have rotating art gallery for local artists to feature their works. We have also been in talks with an art teacher to offer a children’s art class in conjunction with a yoga class for parents so they do not have to worry about finding someone to watch their children while they do yoga,” co-owner Bobby Bloom said.


This unique, uninhibited space has so much to offer, and we were soaking it in for all it was worth. We eventually began working on a combination that was fun, easy, yet still challenging enough to be creatively and physically stimulating. The craziest part is, I eventually forgot that there weren’t mirrors. I was having so much fun creating and doing that I was able to let go and just be.


“We all live with discomfort on some level, or on many levels. Healing, to me, is taking a good look at ourselves and confronting the pain of the mind, body, and/or soul and making a shift. It's about a conscious decision to ALLOW yourself to feel good,” Applegate Bloom said. “Once you open the door to healing, you often find exactly what you need to fix or remove the discomfort, or rather, it finds you! Many times it consists of removing crutches and limiting beliefs, and is not always an easy process. But, the outcome is living a more authentic and healthy life that's free of discomfort on whatever level it has manifested. Most of the time the only thing standing in our way is our own self.”


By the end of the class, I was laughing and smiling and just felt great. Sure, my toes weren’t perfectly pointed all the time. Yes, I know I have soft knees all the time. Of course my extension isn’t the best.


But I was happy and in my creative element.


“It takes someone well-versed and fluent (or an artist, if you will) in finding these causes to pin-point many health issues people face. Mandy is such an artist, she listens to clients’ issues and seeks to find different ways of helping and guiding the client to heal themselves by changing their lifestyle and partnering those changes with the different therapies we offer at our studio,” Bloom said. “We are constantly looking to help our clients find the right therapies for their needs and if we don’t provide a service, we can refer them to someone who does.”


Check out the Bloom Healing Arts Studio (735 Meeting Street) for a myriad of healing and creative services. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter or Instagram, or go to http://bloomhealingartsstudio.com/ for more information!


Civil Blood Makes Civil Hands Unclean: Jason Stokes Premiers Original Historical Screenplay, Composure - by Haley Sprankle


Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Columbia where we lay our scene...


The year is 1903. The Tillman family, headed by the Lieutenant Governor for the State of South Carolina, and the Gonzales family, headed by the founder of The State newspaper, are in a known feud. This ancient grudge (that began in the 1880s) broke to new mutiny as Lieutenant Governor James H. Tillman murders NG Gonzales.


That’s where local actor, filmmaker, and screenwriter Jason Stokes’ story begins.


“I first heard about this story at my ‘real’ work (Media Director for the South Carolina Bar) in 2000 during a presentation on the subject by Donnie Myers. I was fascinated by the story in part because of the sensational nature of the crime, but the more I began to research the story I realized that there was much more to it than just a murder and a murder trial,” Stokes explains.  “The Tillmans and The Gonzaleses were two powerful families in the city of Columbia who did not like each other for various reasons. This feud began in the late 1880’s and continued even after the events of January 15, 1903. During that time one side wielded power and opinion in the public press while the other side railed against the Gonzaleses and The State newspaper with every stump speech.”


This Saturday, Stokes presents an original screenplay titled Composure based on this rich piece of Columbia’s history. His cast includes such luminary local talent such as Paul Kaufmann, Eric Bultman, Stann Gwynn, Terrance Henderson, Hunter Boyle, Clint Poston, Katie Leitner, Stan Gardner, G. Scott Wild, Libby Campbell, Kevin Bush, Jonathan Jackson, Nate Herring, and Kendrick Marion.


“I’ve been very fortunate not only to have these talented actors lend their craft to this project but they are also valued friends and colleagues. I promise to anyone in attendance, if the story doesn’t impress you the talent certainly will,” Stokes says.


While Stokes is certainly no stranger to the Columbia arts community, having been seen in productions ranging from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Rent, not many know that he is a writer.


“I began writing just after my father passed away in 1989. My mother gave me a notebook to write down memories of my father when I had them but, being an adolescent, as I started writing down a memory or story it would veer away from facts to whatever fiction my mind was dreaming up at the time. So I’ve been writing for the last 27 years (to varying degrees of success),” Stokes said.


After writing about 30 screenplays, some of which have television spec scripts pitched to shows such as The West Wing and Castle, Stokes has developed his own style and writing process.


“Each screenplay is different, but they all seem to start before I really know where they are going. For example, I’ll write a scene that I either have no idea what it’s trying to say in a grand scheme, or I don’t know where it belongs in the story I’m thinking about,” Stokes delineates. “Composure was no different. The surface story was there but to make it interesting and make it build to something that makes people think was the challenge. This being a historical piece I just kept doing more and more research to see if I could find anything new to add to the layers, which took time. I worked off-and-on on the screenplay for about three years, and it wasn’t until I decided to begin with the murder and then bounce back and forth in time during the trial, to add the ‘why’ of the murder, that made it really exciting for me to want to write it.”


Being an actor himself adds a particularly interesting dynamic to Stokes’ work and process, as well.


“As an actor, it’s always a blessing to work on a well written piece of work, Tennessee Williams, Terrance McNally, Jonathan Larson, you want to chew on it as long as you can because really good, juicy dialogue and lyrics don’t come around all the time. So when I write I like to think of the story and dialogue in the vein; Would this be something I would want to sink my teeth into as an actor and rejoice in the fact that I GET to say these lines and tell this story?” Stokes adds.


Don’t miss the two hours’ traffic of the Trustus Side Door Theatre this Saturday, January 16 for free! Doors and bar open at 6:30 with the performance beginning at 7:30.


“Opinion reporting is nothing new, as evident by this story, but with the advent of technology and polarizing news outlets only compounding the divisive nature and climate I think we find ourselves in today, this is a true story that still has relevance and meaning,” Stokes says. “No one story, one person, one political ideology can be measured strictly in absolutes. If the audience can be entertained and enlightened in some way through the events of these gentlemen, then maybe the cast and I will have offered a different perspective in which to view our own world.”

What’s the Buzz: USC Lab Theatre produces The Bee-Man of Crighton County

image1By Haley Sprankle Eight chairs line the center of the Lab Theatre at USC. The cast gathers and quickly fills the empty theatre with warmth and energy, as they joke with great wit and chemistry. Director and cast member Grace Ann Roberts engages with her team, interjecting a quick quip or two as they all settle in their seats.

This is the cast for the staged reading of an original play, The Bee-Man of Crighton County, by Ryan Stevens. We last heard from Stevens when discussing his original work Player King, which included Bee-Man cast members Jasmine James, Megh Ahire, and Carrie Chalfant. Other team members for the staged reading include Elizabeth Krawcyzk, Freddie Powers, and USC Theatre MFA student Nicole Dietze.

“Well of course we drew heavily on the USC theater community,” Roberts explains. “We’d all seen each other work, taken classes together, things like that. So there’s already an element of familiarity there, and it’s so much fun.”

The cast has a unique added element of familiarity, however.

“You mean I get to sit next to my daughter?”

Roberts’ father sits down, puts his arm around her, and smiles as bright as day while Roberts dons a look of loving embarrassment that I know all too well.

“The other member is, well… it’s my dad, Kevin Roberts. He plays the Bee Man himself. He’s done several plays before, but we’ve never worked on anything together. That has been such a new experience, for both of us, but it’s also really cool. It’s been fun to watch each other work,” Roberts lovingly adds.

The play follows a story about the people in the small town of Sheol. The people are hopelessly trying to gather historical documents from the local hermit, Ogden Flass (Bee Man), while Julie Guest witnesses it all in the midst of her own existential crisis.

“He [Stevens] and I have worked together a ton, and we really trust each other. He’s a great friend, and I think he’s a great writer too, and I’m happy to have a hand in doing this with him,” Roberts says.

A Columbia native and graduate of both the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and the University of South Carolina with a focus in theatre at both schools, Roberts is taking on the part of Julie as well as directing the reading.

“I’ve never directed a staged read before, and I’m also cast in it. That wasn’t the original plan but really, at the end of the day, that arrangement has taught me a lot—not only about what you can do as an actor, or how you can bring it to life, but also just how different it is to direct a staged read,” Roberts elaborates. “It’s like… I’m learning too, and I share those lessons with the other cast members. It really feels more like ‘guiding’ than ‘directing.’”

The element of learning doesn’t just end from a directorial or performance perspective, though. Through shared experiences with the South, early adulthood, and family life, Roberts has been able to connect and learn from her character.

“Funny enough, she and I are currently going through pretty similar given circumstances,” she admits. “I just graduated from USC, and am still living in Columbia. Honestly, that wasn’t my initial plan, and I’ll probably be here for a while. Julie is in the same boat: she moves away to start a business, which tanks, and she has to move back to her small town and live with her mom. She and I had similar feelings about the whole thing, too—those feelings being ones of disappointment, sadness, and some anger, too. But, in the same way that her perspective on that changes, I find mine to be changing too. So it’s pretty fun to have that very literal connection to her. She’s helped me to understand how to redefine ‘failure,’ and that feels really good.”

The Bee-Man of Crighton County reading is this Saturday in USC’s Lab Theatre at 7 pm. Admission is free, so come out to support original, local work produced by young emerging artists on the Columbia scene!

“To me, the Bee Man is about blooming where you’re planted. Instead of resisting where you are—geographically, professionally, existentially, what have you—really embracing it, and making the best out of something you once perceived as the worst. I do think, too, it’s unique to the idea of southern community,” Roberts says. “What it means to live in a place where everyone knows everyone, and everyone’s looking out for each other.”

Darling Dilettante: Starbucks Art

haleyvic By Haley Sprankle

Throughout the year and throughout my writing, I’ve been forced to consider art and my appreciation for it. Certain disciplines I never truly understood in my youth, whether it was my lack of experience with it or lack of information about what is or isn’t considered “art.” Younger Haley might see more modern art pieces, like the post-grad work displayed at Tapp’s and question their validity as “art,” whereas now I am in awe at the creativity and vulnerability of those same pieces.

This called to question: Is art an acquired taste? Can someone who is younger consider and enjoy art the way a more “seasoned” adult might? Is art like coffee? Are more basic wonderments with art sweet and sugary like frappucinos, while more complex considerations of it are like a more pragmatic cup of black coffee?

Last week, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with one of my favorite 15-year-olds, and adoptive little sister. As her “cool college” friend, I wanted to make sure I gave her the trendy tour of Columbia. (Disclaimer: She doesn’t really think I’m that cool.) In the midst of eating fantastic smoked salmon sandwiches at Crepes and Croissants and political discussions over Starbucks, we went to the Columbia Museum of Art.


I was thoroughly thrilled to finally walk through the Andy Warhol exhibit that’s been up (and will remain up through September 12).

“Is it always this quiet in here?”

I began to realize that I wasn’t entirely sure of the etiquette in art exhibits myself, and hoped that she would enjoy the museum as much as I normally do.

Growing up, I always learned to read the text accompanying each piece to better my understanding of what I’m seeing, so I did just that. Thinking I would be the nerd holding us up, I was surprised to see her follow suit and read them as well. We walked on, recognizing familiar faces and discussing the idea of fame.


“Oh my god, glitter!”

I chuckled to myself as I listened to her commentary throughout the rest of the pieces. Growing up with the wonderful parents she did, she was able to consider and discuss more controversial and educational ideas prompted by each portion of the exhibit, interspersed with her early teenaged nuances and silliness.

I was thrilled to see she enjoyed the more contemporary pieces and hoped the excitement carried throughout the classic section in the upstairs of the museum.

I’ve always found the classics to be intriguing, and often even comical at times. The way the influences in art evolved over time from being more religiously-centered to featuring portraits of the more wealthy to more abstract and aesthetically driven pieces is exemplified here so well.

“This dude looks like peanut brittle.”

As we walked through, we shared many laughs at some of the more silly-seeming portraits and interesting ceramics (Why do some of these people look so drunk?), appreciate classics like Monet, and stand in awe at the chandelier of Salviati.


At the end of the day, we giggled about the plethora of cute businessmen on Main Street, we ate great local food, and I got to share a little bit of my interests and passions with her. She went home to her dad, probably with more liberal ideas that I’m willing to admit trying to instill in her mind, and a smile on her face.

That day, I learned that art transcends age. Sure, the level of appreciation and understanding may be different. A 15-year-old might be excited about Superman with glitter (and as was I, who are we kidding?), whereas a 30-year-old might be more intrigued at the political statement that may or may not have been made by depicting Mao.

Regardless, art is still talked about. Art is still appreciated. Art is still relevant.

One appreciation is not better than the other, but instead, understanding and information grows.

So, young art-lovers, you pursue and appreciate your frappucino art. I’m just making my way to a macchiato myself, and might not ever get to taking it without cream or sugar.

(And yes, I am being a coffee elitist.)

Haley Sprankle

Two Minutes Too Many: Support STSM at Conundrum Music Hall Tonight By Haley Sprankle


One in six.

One in six women are estimated victims of rape.

One in 33 men are estimated victims of rape.

Every two minutes someone is victimized by sexual assault.

These crimes are often perpetrated by non-strangers (73%), friends (38%), intimate partners (28%), and even family members (7%), yet sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in America.

These statistics are often thrown around in the media through television, movies, and articles, desensitizing the world to the immediate and residual atrocities the actual people that form these statistics face. Through this, people forget the reality of it and they forget how to end rape culture and help their friends in need.

Luckily, Sexual Trauma Services for the Midlands (STSM) is here to help educated and aid victims, their loved ones, and those seeking to prevent such horrid crimes in their communities.

“STSM has done a great job of making their presence felt in the community, raising awareness about sexual assault, and letting people know that they are there to help,” Jeremy Joseph of Raiser Productions states. “For example, events such as their annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes have been a huge success.  But, what's most important is the services they provide to those in need in our area.”

This evening, Joseph organized a benefit concert at Conundrum for STSM featuring Prairie Willows, She Returns from War, and Pedro LDV. Joseph sees each of these distinct acts as music that “people will enjoy” that will “serve as a force for good.”

The arts have historically been shown as a power to raise awareness for issues, promote change in surrounding communities as well as throughout the nation, and induce a sense of healing. Joseph seeks to do just this through the concert.

“Artists can use the power of their platform to speak out against sexual assault, generate awareness and support for STSM, and bring together a supportive group of people to positively change our culture and stand with survivors,” Joseph adds.

Tonight’s benefit is one you won’t want to miss, but if you can’t make it you can still donate to the cause at www.stsm.org/donate. Different donation amounts allow you to either, assist on survivor at a hospital, train community members to prevent child sexual abuse, educate students in a six-week violence prevention program, or provide six months of counseling, legal advocacy, and crisis intervention to one survivor.

“I hope that as many people as possible will be there Saturday night,” Joseph ends with. “Just by coming out for an evening of some of the best music around you can help make the world a better place through supporting the extremely important work of STSM.”

Doors open at 8 tonight, the show starts at 9, and tickets are only $8, so don’t miss your chance to help make every two minutes in America safer for everyone and support local musicians!

Darling Dilettante—Discussing the Art of Fear By Haley Sprankle

dreamgirls2 “Do you ever get nervous up there?”

The age-old question for performers—the question of fear.

In just about every production I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, whether I’m the lead or the third white girl from the left, I’m asked this question by a person outside of the performance realm. They ensure me that they don’t understand how actors memorize each element of the show from lines to choreography to even just remembering to smile every now and then. I normally reply with “I used to when I first started, but now it just seems like second nature.”

Most recently, that question of fear prompted me to question myself and the things others around me do, though, and how we do them.

Every day, a banker goes to work. Every day a stay-at-home parent wakes up and takes care of their family. Every day a waiter or a writer or a bus driver or even the President of the United States gets up and fulfills their necessary requirements for the day. These could be things they’ve always done. These could be things they’ve just started doing. These could be things they love, or they could be things they don’t like.


But they get up and they do them, and like most people feel about performing, I couldn’t even imagine doing these things.

With most things people do for the first time, there was probably an initial fear or nervousness.

What if they don’t like my work? What if I mess up? What if?

We can sit back and ask ourselves “What if?” all day long, but we will never know what WILL happen if we don’t try. Sometimes, it will be a little messy. Sometimes, it will be hard. Sometimes, you will do all right. Sometimes, you will do it all wrong.

One thing, however, is common among all these instances—you learn something new about yourself.

I recently came across a Japanese term: Wabi-Sabi. It translates to “A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting, peacefully, the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

In every new or old thing you do, there are endless possibilities, but in the end, the best opportunity you have is to take each outcome and turn it into something beautiful.

So why let fear hold you back from trying something new?


Last Friday, Dreamgirls opened at Trustus Theatre and will run through August 1st. The cast includes veterans to the stage and newcomers alike, all representing a long process of hard work, fun, and love that we have put into this show. For some of us, each night may just be another performance, but for others, one or more performances may be among the most nerve-wracking things they’ve ever done. At the end of each night, though, all we can do is do what we do best—put on a show. Things may not go exactly as planned, but that’s live theatre.

In live theatre, we support each other. In live theatre, we help each other. In live theatre, we build each other up.

In live theatre, we find the beauty within our fear and imperfections, and we turn it into art.

I won’t be afraid or nervous. I will be excited and proud.


(Dreamgirls runs June 26-August 1. Go to trustus.org for tickets!)

Photos by Richard Kiraly

We Welcome You to Munchkinland—Elisabeth Gray Engle on Directing This Summer’s Children’s Musical The Wizard of Oz


Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh My!

Sixty-five children of all different ages from the Columbia area came together this summer to bring you the youth edition of a beloved classic, The Wizard of Oz through Workshop Theatre.

“We are very excited to be doing The Wizard of Oz this summer! There are so many magical elements to this show already, so that is really fun to explore. But the real magical feeling comes from the cast members. We have a very large cast of kids of varying ages and schools who come together to create this show. They form bonds and friendships, and the excitement and energy that they bring to rehearsal is the real magic of the show,” director Elisabeth Gray Engle says.

The range of experience and ages might often lead to complications in the directing process, but Engle uses each child’s unique talents and personalities to create their own interpretation of such a well-known show.

“…Many of our roles are double cast, so there are two actors who alternate the role. This is really fun because you get to watch these two young actors create two very different characters from the same material,” Engle explains. “So much of the humor of our production has come from the actors, and I think that is what makes our production unique. We have a very talented group of kids who each bring something different to their characters.”

While the 4 to 18-year-olds bring a lot to the theatrical table, the production team has also put their own spin on things. With people like Alexis Doktor doing costumes and Baxter Engle doing set, the wonderful land of Oz is sure to excited audiences aesthetically.

“I cannot say enough good things about our Oz Team. Katie Hilliger (Choreographer), Jordan Harper (Musical Director), Jeni McCaughan (Producer), Braxton Crewell (Stage Manager), just to name a few, make this experience so positive and meaningful for our kids. We have high expectations for our cast, but we have a lot of fun along the way,” Engle affirms.

Engle, herself, is no stranger to the stage or directing. She is a company member at Trustus Theatre where she has taught, performed, and will be seen next in the world premiere of Big City. On top of all that, this is Engle’s 5th summer production through Workshop, her 11th year directing youth theatre, and she continues to teach theatre at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.

“I love working with kids in the summer because it is such a joyous time of year in their lives. The summer musical is different than a school musical or a show during the year because the kids (and adults!) have that special energy that can only exist during the summer,” Engle elaborates. “…They come together during the summer to create this show, so that [in] itself sets the experience apart from school year productions. It’s really exciting to see so many kids from so many different schools who love musical theatre come together. They get along so well, and they love being with ‘their people.’”

The show runs June 25 through June 28, with both evening and matinee performances at the Heathwood Hall Episcopal School auditorium. Go to workshop.palmettoticketing.com for times and tickets!

“Theatre always has a unique way of bringing people together, and we have certainly seen that this summer with our cast,” Engle endearingly states. “Our cast is made up of kids from varying backgrounds, schools, locations, and experiences, and we have loved seeing them come together to create art.”

By Haley Sprankle

There’s a Road We Must Travel: Mariangeles Borghini on the Road to the Removal of the Confederate Flag

Mariangeles Borghini By Haley Sprankle

“South Carolina is a beautiful state, and we are a diverse community,” local social worker and social justice activist Mariangeles Borghini says. “And we don’t all fit under that symbol.”

On June 20, 2015, thousands of people gathered on the State House lawn. A symphony of car horns sounded in support and agreement upon entering the scene, and chants of “Take it down!” flooded the streets. The people of Columbia united for one cause—the removal of the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. Borghini was one of the driving forces behind this movement. Along with Emile DeFelice, head of Soda City Market, and Tom Hall, attorney and filmmaker, the trio created an event that changed the game of rallies in Columbia, in South Carolina, and in the nation.

“After the attack in Charleston, I was looking online to find discussions about the connection between what happened and the Confederate flag we have flying at the State House…And I couldn’t find any,” Borghini states.

As a social justice and human rights activist, she did what she does best and joined a team rallying people together by creating a Facebook page, “Take Down the Flag SC,” which now has over 8,000 likes. Through the page, Borghini was able to promote the online petition against the flag, while also creating an event under the same title. The immediate response was amazing—in less than 24 hours, the event had over 1,500 people pledging to attend.

“I had no idea how this was going to take off,” Borghini explains. “At Saturday’s rally, we had thousands of people around the State House asking in a peaceful, respectful, and hopeful way. That’s what I call democracy, social participation, and community advocacy.”

The grace of the crowd and profound statements of the speakers were a testament to the honest intentions of the movement. There was no violence, and there were no visible counter-protesters, but there was a whole lot of love. “We worked as a team to make this happen,” Borghini adds. “Not only the three of us, but the thousands of people supporting us through the [Facebook] page and our family and friends that pushed us forward and had our backs.”

While many have openly voiced their disagreement with the movement and claim the flag is merely a symbol of “heritage,” Borghini takes a stronger stance on the hot topic.

“Since I came to this country more than five years ago, it was always a shock for me to go downtown and see the Confederate flag flying in front of our state Capitol. Every time a friend or relative came to visit, it was really difficult and shameful to me to explain that to them. I’ve always felt frustrated and impotent about that,” Borghini divulges. “…The flag has been used as a symbol of hate, racial discrimination, and injustice, and it is offensive for many of us that are living and raising our families in South Carolina.”

In a press conference on June 22, 2015, Governor Haley announced her support for the flag’s removal, and gave a July 4 deadline for the decision to be made.

“I am thankful with our Governor for taking a step forward on this. To remove the flag is the first reasonable step in the process of healing a history of segregation, discrimination, injustice, and loss for many human beings. We are identifying with different values—we are not what the flag symbolizes to the majority of people. I really hope our legislators move in the same direction,” Borghini says.

Activism can’t just stop at a rally, though.

“My advice is to love each other and to speak up when we see something that is not right every day,” Borghini advocates. “Racial violence and other types of injustice happen on a daily basis, so let’s not let that happen. If we don’t do it, we cannot expect others to do it for us!”

For information about future events and initiatives regarding the removal of the Confederate flag, be sure to like the Take Down the Flag SC Facebook page.

“It is great we are not being silent anymore,” Borghini affirms. “We are speaking up and taking action towards having a better place to live and raise our families.”

Darling Dilettante: The 69th Annual Tony Awards By Haley Sprankle

tony award A day ago.

June 7, 2015.

The Tony Awards.

Other awards shows are grander, flashier, and better-funded, but what could be classier than celebrating the Great White Way in Radio City Musical Hall with the top tier performers of the day? Thespians far and wide await this day for the entire year… …And I missed it for rehearsal.

Melodramatically devastated, I recorded it and wallowed in self-pity for the rest of the evening. I couldn’t remember the last time I missed the Tonys since I had begun taking theatre seriously. I trudged to rehearsal with the desperate hope that maybe the powers that be would change their minds and cancel. They didn’t. Once I got there, I was immediately entranced. Music flowed as the newly gathered band rehearsed before the cast’s call time. The aura of the live music transported me back to my very first opening night in 2001 at Workshop Theatre in Gypsy, as most live orchestration does to me. I feel the excitement of the overture and re-experience the rush of adrenaline before my first performance—the magic of live theatre when each integral element comes together to make a whole.

… And that was just a rehearsal.

After it was all said and done, I went home, went to bed, and watched the Tonys in the morning. Sure, it wasn’t as exciting as it would have been live; I didn’t get to live-tweet it, much to my chagrin, and I already knew who won Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Go Kelli!), but the magic was still there. Somewhere, the spark of excitement in a little girl’s heart performing for the first time was still a part of my experience. That’s the magic of it all. That’s why we rehearse for countless hours. That’s why we perform multiple times a week. Somewhere, deep down, there’s that memory of when you first fell in love with theatre, whether as a performer or an audience member. Sounds cheesy, right?

As cliché as it may sound, it’s true. People often find serenity, solace, and even sanctuary in the theatre. For many, they were able to pursue their passions; for some, they were finally able to just be themselves.

We finally live in a time in which a kid can see musical theatre completely written by women win the Tony for the first time ever. When a kid can see an Asian woman take home a Tony for only the second time. When a kid can listen to another young girl sing a song about identity when so often kids are told their thoughts and feelings aren’t valid. We finally live in a time that a kid can see an openly LGBTQ+ person host the Tonys. We are so lucky that a young kid can see a woman, who has been nominated five times previously, continue to follow her dreams and finally take home a Tony. We are so lucky to finally live in this time.

Haley Sprankle

… And so am I.

I am incredibly lucky to have theatre in my life. It taught me about diversity from an early age. It taught me discipline. It taught me more than words can express. While I deigned to go to rehearsal in that selfish moment, I now look back and delight in the fact that I was able to create with other people who so wonderfully and passionately commit to their performances. This is what we do—we create so that some kid in the audience, some first-time performer, or even a veteran to the stage can experience the magic.

For a list of this year's Tony winners go here.

Be sure to catch Dream Girls at Trustus Theatre this summer! The show runs June 26-August 1. Go to trustus.org for tickets.


Jasper Does Spoleto - part 2 The Globe's Romeo and Juliet by Haley Sprankle


There I sat, at the tender age of seven, watching Baz Luhrmann’s 1990s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet while following along with the text to make sure the actors didn’t veer too far from the source material.

During my most awkward stage, at the age of 13, I went to the local high school’s production of the same classic play after reading it in class.

At 16, I saw a talented friend of mine, Danielle Peterson, beautifully perform the titular female role in the Lab Theatre at USC.

In the height of my teenage angst, at the age of 17, I watched Luhrmann’s rendition again on Valentine’s Day because “love isn’t a reality,” and because it had become a personal favorite of mine throughout the years.

Fast forward to May 2015 and I’m experiencing the Globe Theatre’s touring production of the same play that had so ingratiated itself into my life at Charleston’s Spoleto Festival and I am in awe.

Most every moderately educated person in the world knows the tale of the star-crossed lovers who (spoiler alert) commit suicide to preserve their love despite their families’ brawling hatred for one another. This allows great room for interpretation when producing the renowned play, as most Shakespearian works do. Directors Dominic Dromgroole and Tim Hoare masterfully crafted this production for Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s travelling company and had a brilliant cast to support their concept.


With just a cast of eight, on a bare-bones set, and with simplistic costume pieces similar to an indie-folk band’s attire with some added Shakespearian accents, the directors were able to transform the stage and present the text so eloquently.

Each actor, sans the two portraying the titular roles (Samuel Valentine and Cassie Layton), assumed multiple parts, distinguished by their garb, accents, and physicality. This automatically sparked my interest as I tried to find the pattern in which the directors grouped characters for each actor. Seemingly, with the patterns I detected, the pairings either highlighted the juxtaposition between characters, or the vast thematic similarities between them.

Steffan Donnelly took on the roles of Mercutio, Prince, and Apothecary, representing a character in control of the immediate present, a character in control of life, and a character in control of death. Matt Doherty adopted the roles of Tybalt, Paris, and Lord Montague, all of which are men who hinder Juliet’s pursuit of Romeo; Tybalt for his hate, Paris for his own pursuits, and Lord Montague for his name. Steven Elder played Lord Capulet and Friar John (the Friar who failed to deliver the urgent message to Romeo), the two men directly culpable for Juliet’s failed love. Sarah Higgins portrayed Nurse, Lady Montague, and Balthazar and Hannah McPake portrayed Lady Capulet and the Chorus. These characters, while vastly important in the performances, are often victims of their circumstance. Finally, Tom Kanji adopted the roles of Friar Laurence and Benvolio, the two characters who act merely out of benevolence.


The minimalist aesthetic was visually and thematically pleasing. The set was a mere skeleton, enabling actors to move freely about the space without the restriction of location. This also played into the directors’ concept that Romeo and Juliet are representative of the whole world, not simply two young lovers. The uniform white, khaki, and oxford costumes each actor donned eased the flow when switching from character to character while matching the set’s rustic, earthy vibe.

The directors also cut the play so that scenes, featuring Romeo and Juliet’s separate lives, happen in tandem with each other. This allowed the audience to draw parallels between the young lovers’ expressed thoughts and ideas while also quickening the pace. One of the most impressive actions resulting from this tactic was a beautiful transition where Kanji changed from Friar Laurence to Benvolio before the audiences’ eyes at the drop of a robe.

Overall, the production was beautifully crafted with each actor a master of her and his performance. I was completely entranced for the entirety of the show, from beginning to end. While I am still merely in the beginning of my theatrical training and knowledge of Shakespeare, the little seven-year-old girl inside me following along with the text gave this production her seal of approval.

The production runs May 27-June 7. Call the Dock Street Theatre box office at (843) 577-7183 for tickets!

To Thine Own Self Be True: USC Senior Ryan Stevens Produces Original Play

player-1 “It’s a meditation on hard work and why we dedicate ourselves to careers. It’s a question of the self vs. a higher cause, whether it’s better to be honest or successful, and an insight into the travails, stresses, and rewards of life in the theater and the arts in general,” University of South Carolina senior Ryan Stevens says, describing his new original play. “And it’s funny.”

Introspection? Theatre? Humor? What more could you want from a play? That’s exactly what you’ll get from Stevens’s new work Player King in the Lab Theatre at USC, and you’ll get it in verse, too!

“…I decided the concept of the play had to be big, ostentatiously so…and I decided to write it in verse. From there I figured, even though I’m not a theatre major, I’ve learned so much and gained so much from the people in the University’s Theatre Department, professors and students alike, that this would need to be a sort of thank you note/love letter to theatre and to these past four years. So I made it about actors. And in verse,” Stevens says.

Not only is Stevens the esteemed playwright, but he is also directing his piece.

“It’s been a very interesting dynamic because 'writer Ryan' only knew so much, and now 'director Ryan' has to come in and be the intermediary between the actors, audience, and whatever that lunatic writer was trying to say,” Stevens explains. “Directing it has shown me both just how loopy lines become when you have to say them out loud, and also shown me just how smart actors are. When we’re rehearsing, these actors are connecting dots and analyzing subtext that, unless my memory is horrible, I never thought of while writing the thing. They’re basically doing alchemy, making something out of what I assumed was nothing, but I guess like those old-time ‘alchemists’ they’re actually just really good at finding what they need to find and putting it on display.”


The “alchemists” that Stevens describes include some veterans of the theatre department, some beloved improvers, and some new to the university’s stage.

“I’m working with a lot of actors I’ve collaborated with in the past, and a lot that I’ve gotten see perform before and was very excited to work with, and a few who have never performed on a USC stage before, but even with such diversity of experience, everyone in the cast is giving a hundred percent in rehearsals,” Stevens says. “I think it comes from the fact that I’m encouraging them to go wild, and be sure they’re having fun, because they’re the ones who will have to go out and perform it four times, not me, so they might as well enjoy it. A lot of the actors involved come from an improv background, so while the text is pretty stiff (verse’ll do that), we’re discovering a lot of places of wiggle room, experimenting a lot with actions and nonverbal communication and the like. There are twelve actors with twelve distinct and fine senses of humor, and the results of all this mixing have been spellbinding.”

All in all, this production is the perfect denouement for the last four years Stevens has spent at the university.

“It’s a really fulfilling experience. I get to spend four hours every day collaborating with these people who are very dear friends, yes, but also just brilliant artists, and we get to put our heads together and create something worthwhile. This play opens two weeks before I graduate, so in many ways Player King is a very overt symbol for my finishing my college career, but who am I to complain when the process is this enjoyable,” Stevens says. “To get to put something like this on, to get to have posters and interviews and press releases, all about something that I strung together over a year ago, is nothing short of a dream come true. It’s the best closing note I could ever envision for my college career, and I never thought I’d be so lucky as to get to do this project with so many of the people that have made college so great for me.”

Player King runs April 23-26 at the Lab Theatre. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are only $5 at the door for “Fakespearian fun for the whole family, another chance to see just how amazing the undergraduate talent of USC is, and a very passionate thank you note to the arts, from a farm boy with a keyboard.”


Preview: NiA Company Brings Back the Complex Slavery Tale The Whipping Man for an April 11-13th Run

11072297_834054930001388_3878248336643888339_o By Haley Sprankle

So often, when the topic of slavery arises, many make the rash assumption that all slave owners were bad and that all slaves hated their masters. It is assumed that slavery is solely an issue of racial prejudice. This clouds our understanding of slavery, all of its complexity and paradoxes, and how it ultimately comes down to incredibly personal and fraught relationships.

Fortunately, Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man, which the NiA Company is performing once again after a 2013 production, breaks that pattern.

The Whipping Man is on the surface about a Jewish Confederate officer that returns home at the end of the Civil War to find two of his former slaves waiting among the ruins,” says Charlie Goodrich, who plays Caleb, the aforementioned office. “However, more specifically, I think that it is simply about a family, one that exists beyond biological or socio-economical barriers.  The three men that appear on stage fight, poke fun, celebrate, and enjoy each other’s company as members of a family do.  No matter the political circumstances, the familial bond still exists between them.”

The play revolves around three characters; Caleb, John (played by Michael Clark), the elder of the two remaining slaves of Caleb’s family, and Simon (played by Darion McCloud), the younger of the two. The three characters celebrate the traditional Jewish holiday of Passover together as they attempt to ascertain the nature of their new relationship.

The Whipping Man addresses how it was possible for believers of a Faith that reveled in its celebrations of freedom could live with, condone, and put into practice an institution that vehemently juxtaposes itself against what they believed in the first place,” Goodrich explains. “Foremost, the play takes place during Passover in April of 1865.  The Jewish Festival of Passover commemorates the Israelites exodus from their enslavement in Egypt.  The three characters celebrate Passover with a Seder meal not long after the two former slaves were freed.  Throughout the dialogue leading up to this meal, various characters address what it meant to exist in the Jewish Faith as slaveholder and slave, and how this existence proved to be sometimes problematic in their understanding of this faith.”

Aside from the religious aspect, the play also calls into question not only the humanity of the situation the characters face, but the humanity of each character.

“Playing the aforementioned Confederate soldier has created an interesting crossroads between my personal feelings and the history of my family in this state,” confesses Goodrich. “It’s no secret that I’m a pretty liberal individual who has not always felt at home in a state that has historically been primarily conservative.  So, it’s no shocker that I went into the production thinking that a Confederate soldier would probably be a total 180 from myself.  However, a portion of my Grandmother’s family has been in this state since the 1690’s.  Towards the end of the 18th century, a portion of them moved from the Lowcountry to York County.  Most of this land, near the town of McConnells, is farm country, and my ancestors owned and ran plantations.  Coming across some of their wills in my ancestral research years ago, I discovered that they were slave owners.”

“This discovery got me to thinking: while I am liberal now, how would I have thought 150 years ago?  While I, in no way, support slavery or oppression, would I have gone along with my family then or rebelled against them? It’s so easy for me to judge slaveholders now, but how do I know what my ancestors in the same situation were thinking? Did they like owning slaves or was it just Southern tradition that they were observing?  To make a long story short, researching my ancestors has opened me up to approaching Caleb without bias.  He’s just a man, and like every other man, he has strengths and weaknesses as well as assets and flaws.  He makes mistakes and is faced with a lot of the same life decisions that exist to this day. I’ve even been able to find parts of myself within him, and vice versa. Becoming Caleb has proven to be not just a fascinating and rewarding experience, but a relevant one as well.”

Throughout the production, the cast and crew have partnered with Historic Columbia, Columbia Commemorates, One Columbia, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia in tandem with the end of Historic Columbia’s Burning of Columbia celebration that began in February.

“Partnering with all of these institutions has been highly beneficial, most especially in bringing in different audiences to see our show.  Columbia Commemorates and Historic Columbia will bring in history buffs; One Columbia will bring in artists; while Unitarian Universalist will bring in an entire congregation of people that are curious to see the play that will be produced in their sanctuary.  Unitarian Universalist also used to be a synagogue, and performing the piece there will add to the atmosphere of the play.  Furthermore, all of our rehearsals have been at the Unitarian church as well, and the staff and members there could not have been more kind, receptive, and helpful. It has been a pleasure to work with them in such close proximity,” Goodrich says.

So now we ask, what did it mean to be a slave? What did it mean to be a slave owner? What does it mean to be a family?

With some intriguing answers to such questions, The Whipping Man runs April 11-13 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia. Tickets can be purchased through reservations@historiccolumbia.org or at the door.

“I hope the audience will leave with a stronger insight into what it meant to be a slave or a slaveholder at the time of the Civil War,” Goodrich concludes. “Also, I hope audience members leave with a better understanding of what it truly means to be a ‘slave.’  The word is not, for a lack of a better phrase, all ‘black and white.’  There are countless ways that people can be enslaved or enslave themselves, and the playwright does an astute job of bringing up this issue.”

Director Bakari Lebby and Workshop Theatre Tackle Race, Class, Gender & Privileged with Stick Fly

stickFly by: Haley Sprankle

“I originally pitched this show as The Cosby Show with a sex scandal.”

Bakari Lebby definitely adds his own quirky spin on Lydia R. Diamond’s Stick Fly, the fourth show he has directed this season at Workshop Theatre. No rookie to the stage, Lebby has been involved a myriad of productions for the theatre, but this is his debut as a main season director.

“It has been cool. It feels like home,” the young director says. “I brought over a show that I directed at Carolina for a two-night run about two years ago and that was my first time working behind the scenes there. I did two [productions] last year with two directors that I really respect, Chad Henderson and David Britt, so that was cool, but yeah, Workshop is home.”

While his theatrical home has changed a bit, Lebby adapts to working and staging in 701 Whaley’s Market Space where each of the previous shows this season were produced.

“Theatre can be done anywhere. The only thing is the time constraints,” Lebby elaborates. “We've already pretty much built everything, and it all has to go up in about a day which is totally cool because we have a great set designer, Billy Love. It's a cool space. It's pretty intimate, so I'm excited for close contact with the stage.”

The play itself revolves around the LeVays, a wealthy African-American family who come together for a weekend vacation. The conversations focus on the issues the family faces with race, gender, and privilege.

“They're like any other family,” Lebby explains. “Loving, protective. There are secrets. But they  are also extremely wealthy. Martha's Vineyard homeowners wealthy. Homes in Aspen and New York and Atlanta wealthy. On the surface, they could seem like the Huxtables [The Cosby Show] grown up.”

Lebby brings the audience into this world through his eccentric style in performance and design.

“Well, the play is set in Martha's Vineyard, so it will all be on the first floor of a beach house,” he says. “It will be like watching a Wes Anderson-type set (mostly thinking of in The Life Aquatic) where each room is very specifically different, but the actors very easily flit from one room to another while all still feeling like one all-encompassing space.”

“I wanted the set to be a bit sitcom-y. I've accelerated the dialogue a bit to match my style more. Actors are occasionally interrupting each other mid-conversation. That's also more my style. We've also taken the script and used it to make any character the protagonist or antagonist depending on the viewer's opinion or emotions.”

These opinions and emotions address very real controversy in what may be perceived as a surrealistic life.

“The play not only addresses race, but also class and gender roles. There are relationships where race is an issue more than class, race is an issue including class, class is an issue more than race, and so forth. Even within race, there are colorism issues which are still prevalent in current society,” Lebby points out. “It also brings up the whole point that racism is still alive, but no one wants to talk about it past pleasantries. Kimber [a character in Stick Fly] has a line that rings true, ‘They don't even want people to say that it still exists.’ It does, and I think this play brings up the point that the only way to make it better is to talk about it.”

Stick Fly opens March 27 and runs through April 4 and 701 Whaley’s Market Space. Call the box office at 803-799-6551, or order online at workshop.palmettoticketing.com for tickets.

“I wanted to take a play that could have been only entertainment and turn it into a piece that makes people think and consider their relationships with family, friends, lovers, and strangers,” Lebby eloquently adds. “Oh, and I want you to be able to laugh also. Gotta have some laughs. And there are definitely some laughs.”

The Women of Troy: Teaching the World Equality Through Theatre by Haley Sprankle

Jasper Intern Haley Sprankle in Trojan women “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation; we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Patricia Arquette’s rousing Oscar acceptance speech not only called to question the inequality women today face all over the world, but the inequality women have faced throughout time.

According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW):

  • Hispanic and Latina women were paid 54 percent of what white men were paid in 2013.
  • Women make up just 14 percent of the engineering workforce.
  • Women represent only 18.5 percent of Congress.
  • 24 states have never elected a woman governor.
  • The United States ranks 60th globally in women’s political empowerment.
  • 60 percent of sexual assaults have gone unreported since 2009.
  • Women make up just 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.
  • More than 22 million working women do not have paid sick days.
  • Half of working mothers say that they often take unpaid time off to care for a sick child.
  • So far in 2014, state legislatures have introduced 468 restrictions on women’s bodies, and zero for men.

(“10 Stats on Women’s Equality That Might Be Scarier than Halloween,” AAUW)

These striking statistics reinforce how the nation and the world needs to raise awareness and fight for gender equality.

One way that can be achieved — through the medium of theatre.

The University of South Carolina’s Lab Theatre opens Trojan Women, and immersive theatre experience written by Euripides, and directed by senior Kelsea Woods Thursday, Feb. 26.

“Feminism definitely plays into the show. First of all, it’s a show with eight women and two men which is something that you almost never see in modern theatre, much less Ancient Greek theatre. That’s definitely a feminist aspect right off the bat,” sophomore Brooke Smith, chorus member, explains. “I also think the play, especially our interpretation of it, shows women persevering in an extremely difficult, tragic situation and uniting together to take control of their own fate. If that’s not some awesome feminism, I don’t know what is.”

These women of Troy, both fictional and historical, represent all women in their own respective manner in the way they act and the way the actors describe them. They are broken, fervent, observant, good-hearted, strong and resilient women who face unsurmountable odds.

“It’s not Cassandra’s fault she is crazy — It’s Apollo’s. Literally the only reason she is crazy is because she said no having sex with Apollo. Everyone else treats her like she is insane, so she is,” senior Rebecca Shrom, playing Cassandra, elaborates. “Honestly, she is one of the only people who accepts her fate and takes it head on. Everyone else is all, ‘Woe is me. Weep for me,’ while Cassandra says, ‘Watch me while I destroy our enemies, the thing the men couldn’t do.’”

While each woman has their individuality, they also come together as one to face the world that crumbles before them.

“This very easily could be a play of women being very, ‘Take pity on me,’ wallowing, and just succumbing to this force and subordinating. In the way that I’m reinterpreting it, I’m seeing these women and their general call to action to these crimes that the Greek people would have seen as a feminist platform in today’s society where they are constantly rallying and actively not giving up. Even when the only thing they have left is to express their grief and weep, that is so powerful to them,” Woods adds.

This grief plagues women today as it did the women of Troy and of nations past.

“A big thing that we’ve talked about and something I’ve been kind of looking into more is the idea of women really being the true victims of war as far as being prone to war crimes such as systematic rape like what’s going on in Syria and all these crazy things where men use them as objects to gain power,” Woods says.

As a first-time director, Woods has created the world for the women of Troy in a new, modern way.

“In bringing it into our world and approaching it with a modern sensibility, I chose a translation that would allow for that. It’s still heightened text, but the translator did a fantastic job of making it so immediate, that I think modern audiences will respond to that. In kind of going in that way and as its very much a reflection of issues going on now, I just wanted to bring the whole production from design, staging, going about it in a new, nontraditional way — I just wanted to bring all of that modernity into a new interpretation of a classical text,” Woods says.

Not only does Woods modernize the world to make it more applicable, she offers the idea of immersive theatre.

“This is not your typical production. The intimate, immersive quality of the show is unlike any other I have had the opportunity to work on. Audience members will have no choice but to fully engage with this timeless story. This theatrical experience is all encompassing,” junior Jamie Boller, playing the lead of Hecuba, adds.

This new theatrical concept mixed with an old struggle for women’s rights and respect brings the audience into a world where they are forced to face the facts that the world still has room for improvement.

“Our community has expanded in a greater sense than what it once was, but it still calls for empathy, compassion, understanding, all these things that we often lose sight of, but are so incredibly important. Being aware of these factors helps things like war not happen. Especially given all the current political situations — it’s the same issue we’ve been dealing with for thousands of years, but we haven’t learned fully from our mistakes just yet,” Woods says.

Through these overwhelming statistics, this powerful story, and the women who have dealt with and continue to deal with these issues, there is a lesson to be learned from Hecuba, the main character:

“Life means hope,” and that hope is that the world will change for the better as women continue to strive for equality.

“This show really demonstrates that women have the ability to fight back in their own way,” junior Cami Reid says, “Even under the most devastating of circumstances.”



Classic Greek “Call-To-Action” Play The Trojan Women Comes to Lab Theatre

Jasmine James, Cami Reid, Jamie Boller, Rebecca Shrom, Brooke Smith, Haley Sprankle, Ashley Graham and Elizabeth Houck -- Photo by Alexandra Herstik

The UofSC Department of Theatre and Dance will present The Trojan Women, translated from Euripides’ ancient text by acclaimed scholar Nicholas Rudall, Feb. 26- March 1 at the Lab Theatre.

Show times are 8pm nightly. Tickets are $5, and available only at the door.  The Lab Theatre is located at 1400 Wheat St. in the Booker T. Washington building.

Senior theatre major Kelsea Woods is directing the centuries-old Greek meditation on the brutality of battle, which continues to move and inspire audiences, even in the present day. Euripides’ classic tragedy tells of the fates of the women who remain in the city of Troy after its destruction during the Trojan War.  Woods’ production of the play intends to give audience members a firsthand look at the human cost of war, as told by the women left to survive in the aftermath of their fractured world.

The director plans to use the entire Lab Theatre space, as well as unconventional seating, to immerse the audience in the action of the play.

“I knew I wanted to use different staging elements to really enhance the experience of this play, instead of just watching it proscenium style,” says Woods. “I’m playing with the sensation of place and time, and using design elements as characters almost. The audience will be considered ‘Trojan Women’ and there will be a set of rules to let them know what they are getting into. The whole Lab space will be playing space, the characters have been living their daily lives here, and the audience is walking straight into that.”

Woods’ vision for the production injects a contemporary, urban aesthetic into the ancient, war-torn world of the main characters. She imagines the surviving women of Troy living in a derelict subway, abandoned during the years of violence.

“These women have watched their families be killed and their city be destroyed, and they are waiting to see what is next for them,” says Woods. “But, they aren’t just going to sit around and do nothing.  This play was originally a call-to-action for the Greek people… and I see echoes of that within the Trojan Women themselves.”

Woods says she was drawn to direct the play after spending last summer in London at the American Institute of Foreign Study.  As a scholar with USC Beyond Boundaries and USC Carolina Global Study, Woods conducted research on experimental and immersive theatre.  Additionally, she began a dialogue with Dr. Josephine Machon, author of the pioneering textbook, Immersive Theatres, to further delve into the concepts.

“In my mind, immersive theatre is really an extra-sensory experience,” Woods says about the unorthodox production style.  “It’s really about imbuing all the senses and pulling you into the world of the story as if it’s happening around you.”

Appearing in the production are undergraduate students Jamie Boller, Rebecca Shrom, Cami Reid, John Floyd, Jon Whit McClinton, Jasmine James, Elizabeth Houck, Haley Sprankle, Brooke Smith and Ashley Graham.

“This production won’t be just ‘theatre,’ it will be an actual life experience,” says Woods. “That’s what immersive theatre does — it enhances your ability to intellectualize and interpret the text because you have now lived it, felt it and experienced it first hand. You will come out of this play a different person in some way, shape, or form.”

For more information on The Trojan Women or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.

The Amateurs of the Opera by Kirby Knowlton and Haley Sprankle

  photo credit - David West

 (Palmetto Opera generously offered two guest tickets to Jasper interns who would write about their first experience at the opera. Please find the young women's article below.)

The Palmetto Opera has been working to make opera a part of Midlands and South Carolina culture since 2001. Its mission is to contribute to the community’s entertainment, education, and economy and to introduce as many people to opera as it can. The Palmetto Opera also aims to promote local talent by hiring local performers and utilizing Columbia venues. Overall, it hopes to bring opera to people who’ve never experienced it before, people like Jasper intern Haley and me (Kirby).


Last Saturday, Haley and I had the pleasure of attending the Palmetto Opera’s Great Moments in Italian Opera at Harbison Theater. The show featured a full orchestra of local Columbia musicians and a troupe of world-class traveling soloists Teatro Lirico D’Europa. Directed by Giorgio Lalov, Teatro Lirico D’Europa is composed of baritone Dobromir Momekov, soprano Stanislava Ivanova, mezzo-soprano Viara Zhelezova, and tenors Fabián Robles and Simon Kyung. The company has toured extensively around the world, performing at top international stages and musical festivals. Their latest traveling concert is Great Moments in Italian Opera, a sampler of the best-loved Italian arias with an opportunity to meet the performers afterward. The show is made up of solos, duets, and ensembles from some of the most influential operas ever written.


“Have you two ever been to the opera before?”

“No ma’am,” we both replied.

So what could two non-opera-goers such as ourselves possibly think or have to say about the opera?


Kirby: Hey, this music actually sounds familiar! No, I’ve definitely heard this before. It’s funny how much opera is a part of culture that I would have heard it before and never consciously processed it.

Haley: That girl in the orchestra was in my computer science class last semester. Wow, they sound great! I had no idea how talented she is!

Kirby: Am I supposed to be understanding these words? I mean, is this English and just different-sounding because it’s opera? Or am I listening to Italian? Does it matter? Nope. I can definitely tell what this guy’s singing about. That’s a I’ve-Got-Lady-Problems face.

Haley: Ivanova has wonderful dynamic changes for a soprano. I find most sopranos to just be loud, but she exhibits beautiful control over her voice through her breath support. Even her vocal runs are at a perfect volume, and are gorgeous at that!

Kirby: It appears that in opera, the relationship between the singer and the audience is much more tangible than in other types of live performance. Several times in Momekov’s first solo, he would pause to give the audience a moment to laugh or react. It seems as though the singers sing with more gusto when the audience gives them a reason to.

Haley: Not only does Momekov have a lovely, powerful voice that he’s able to send to all corners of the room, but his stage presence is also enviable. Through his facial expressions and body language, he was able to playfully engage the audience. He drew us into the song and destroyed the language barrier that kept the audience from understanding the piece.

Kirby: Maybe opera is the simplest, most innate incarnations of human emotion. I don’t even know the plots of these stories, but if I just sit back and listen, it almost doesn’t matter. The performers cease to make music come out of their mouths. After a certain point, it’s pure, concentrated emotion. The notes turn into elongated cries, sighs, and laughs. Even without understanding the words, I can understand the feelings.

Haley: The passion behind each singer’s performance is so breath-taking. Not only does each singer command the stage during their solos, but they also create dynamic relationships between each other in duets and group numbers. As each voice compliments the other, the singers emote and relate to each other beautifully. Through their wonderful performance and the structure of the music itself, the audience is able to fall into the story of each relationship between the singers onstage.

Kirby: Honestly, I never understood the appeal of opera until Kyung’s first solo. I tried to come to this performance with an open mind, but there was still a voice in the back of my head whining and wondering how long it would take. But during Kyung’s aria, I understood all the to-do, that going to the opera is not just a fancy, high-culture activity, but something that speaks to and enriches the deepest parts of you. At its best moments, opera transcends entertainment and becomes something you don’t seek out because you want to, but because you need to. We go around with all these ideas about how to be, but when it comes down to it, all humans want is to connect to other humans. And I’m glad the opera was one way that I was able to do that.

Haley: From beginning to end, I was truly engaged in each moment of the performance. I was skeptical at how I would be able to understand the opera and its culture of it all, but it was all too easy to fall in love with. Each and every performer displayed vocal technique that I could only dream of, and acted out pieces in a way that even the most unfamiliar audience member could comprehend. This lively, energetic evening did not display the propriety and exclusivity that I would have expected from the opera, but rather an all-inclusivity that sought to bring in people from all backgrounds to help them find an appreciation for opera. That was almost more beautiful than the performance itself.


“The only way opera is going to become a real part of culture in Columbia is when folks like you come out to support it,” Kathy Newman, the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Palmetto Opera said.


Other than what Kirby has gathered from popular culture and what I’ve (Haley) learned in my musical theatre training, the two of us had no idea what to expect when we entered Harbison Theater for the performance, but even non-opera-goers such as ourselves would recognize some of these names, such as La Traviata and La Boheme.


The general population seems to have the impression that they are disconnected from the opera, when the opera is incorporated into most aspects of pop culture without our realization of it. Whether it’s in a movie, a television series, or even a video game, opera surrounds us. Its powerful themes and iconic tunes ingratiate themselves into our everyday lives, but it’s our jobs now to recognize it.


So, what does this mean for you? Go to the opera, listen to ETV radio and NPR in hopes of catching some classical music, be aware of the score when you’re watching a movie. As for Kirby and me, you may just catch us at the next event for the Palmetto Opera.


Go to palmettoopera.org for more information on their mission, opera, and future shows.

Eugene Strikes Back! "Broadway Bound" at Workshop Theatre Completes Acclaimed Neil Simon Trilogy

bwaybound "Being in love can be a real career killer.”

That's a classic quote from the beloved Eugene Morris Gerome, the protagonist of Broadway Bound, the final play in Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy, which opens this Friday, January 16 in The Market Space at 701 Whaley.   University of South Carolina professor David Britt, who directed both previous installments for Workshop Theatre, returns to finish out the series.

USC senior Ryan Stevens steps into the lead role to complete the Eugene trifecta.  “First and foremost, it’s a real honor to get to step in and be the culminating Eugene," says Stevens.  "Jared Kemmerling, who played him in Brighton Beach Memoirs, really created a very youthful, energetic portrait of Eugene as a kid.  Jay Fernandes, whom I’ve gotten the pleasure of working with personally, carried him through into young adulthood in Biloxi Blues.  They both, in their respective shows, had to show Eugene growing up and adapting to different things - to the Depression, to the War, etc.,” Stevens says.  "For me, in Broadway Bound, he’s older now - he’s starting his proper adult life. He’s got a chance here, a chance for efficacy. In the previous two plays, Eugene was really more observant, of family drama, of drama in his unit. With his career here, with the chance to become a writer, he’s getting an opportunity to actually do something for himself, for everyone to see.”

As a member of USC’s improv troupe Toast and a playwright himself, Stevens is no stranger to comedy and to the trials that a writer such as Eugene may face.

“I’m about his age, and as a senior here at USC, I’m about to be in a pretty similar career situation.  I know how he feels, absolutely!  When you’re writing, you want to believe what you’re writing in, and sometimes that carries over into a sort of syndrome where you just decide ‘This first draft? It’s flawless. Final draft. Done.’   Eugene’s brother, Stanley, in a lot of the scenes they share, is poking holes in the logic of what Eugene writes. Every critique he has is valid, but for Eugene, it’s infuriating!  Any writer, in having their work reviewed, has that feeling of ‘Dammit, I know the logic is weak and this joke didn’t land and there’s a huge plot hole there, but I’ll be DAMNED if someone who isn’t me is going to tell me!’ I like to think that I, as Ryan, have gotten better at taking critique, but Eugene still bristles a little when he has to do the dreaded thing that haunts all writers’ dreams: edit,” Stevens elaborates.


William Cavitt as Stanley and Ryan Stevens as Eugene


Alongside all these comedic moments there is still a serious story to be told.

Simon is “very deft at handling all the clashing moods that happen inside this little house," Stevens explains. "David Britt has been great at reminding us that all of the humor comes from the same place as the drama, because it comes from us, the characters, the people and our relationships to one another. Neither humor nor drama really occur in a vacuum -- there has to be the human element to tether it, to make it feel real (and) relatable,”

While the story may be set in a decade different to our own, audiences today can still cherish the lessons learned through the eyes of a young writer similar to Stevens himself.

“Right now, these days, there’s all this talk about how this generation is the worst generation ever, that we’re lazy and entitled, and all this nonsense, which I really think is nonsense, because we didn’t do any of this! We didn’t create the world’s problems - the generation before us did, and we’re just the ones footing the bill. But by the same token, we’ll stand a much better chance of solving our problems and closing this hostile generation gap if we quit believing it ourselves. A lot of people my age have heard it so much that they’ve started believing it themselves,” Stevens says.  "Broadway Bound is very clear in the fact that the previous generation of adults is always just as backwards and screwed up as the current one. It was true in the 1940’s, it’s true today, and it’ll be true in the future. There are always generation gaps. Broadway Bound wants the younger generation to realize that their parents are fallible, yes, and fallible because they’re people too. The age range in the play is at the point where the youngest character is 23, and therefore, nobody is a child anymore. Everyone is sort of on an equal playing field. Which is how it should be, for young and old. There’s no talking down in this play, there’s no pretension or condescension to anyone. The kids and the parents are on the same plane. Does that level of emotional honesty have some blowback? Of course. But it’s still better than acting like the people of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are too divided to communicate.”

Broadway Bound's cast includes Samantha Elkins and Lou Warth Boeschen, returning from 2013's production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, again playing Eugene's mother Kate and her sister Blanche respectively.  William Cavitt,who appeared in Britt's 2014 production of Biloxi Blues in a different role, will portray older brother Stanley, while Chris Cook, last as seen as Lear opposite Cavitt's Edgar in this past fall's SC Shakespeare Company production of King Lear, plays father Jack. David Reed, who performed with Cook and Cavitt in the 2013 High Voltage production of Dracula, rounds out the cast as grandfather Ben. Reed in a way comes full circle with this performance, having played Jack in a 1990 incarnation of Broadway Bound at Town Theatre. The original Broadway production ran for over two years, and was nominated for four Tony Awards and four Drama Desk Awards, winning two of each, and was a 1987 Pulitzer finalist. The original cast included Jonathan Silverman, and Jason Alexander (who went on to star in The Single Guy and Seinfeld respectively) as Eugene and Stanley, with Linda Lavin (a Golden Globe winner for the long-running tv series Alice) as Kate.

Workshop Theatre's new production of Neil Simon's Broadway Bound will run January 16-25 at The Market Space at 701 Whaley. Tickets can be purchased through the Box Office at (803) 799-6551, or online at www.workshoptheatre.com .

~ Haley Sprankle