Such a Funny and Loving Gentleman - Remembering Will Moreau Goins by August Krickel

Will Moreau Goins

Duyugodv Ayosdi Ji Dekananogis Awohali Tsiyohi Uhyali Do

December 2, 1961 - November 11, 2017

will in MFL.jpg

Around the theater, he was always called Will Moreau. Or sometimes just Moreau. And among friends, "Dr. Moreau," a winking reference to the H.G. Wells character played on screen by Charles Laughton, Marlon Brando, and Burt Lancaster, but also an acknowledgement of Will's life outside the theater, as a scholar of Native American culture with a doctorate in anthropology. In that world he was more often referred to as Dr. Will Goins, and he always explained with a laugh that stars like Angelina Jolie and Tom Cruise use their middle names for their acting careers, so why couldn't he?

 

My friend William Moreau Goins came into this world on December 2, 1961, and left us Saturday, November 11, 2017. Like the face of America, his heritage was a mix of ethnicities, but he was descended from Cherokees in North and South Carolina on both sides of his family, including a great-great-grandfather who was a medicine man in Oconee County, and that's the path he followed, becoming Chief of the South Carolina Cherokee Tribe, and Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Cherokee, Southern Iroquois, and United Tribes (ECSIUT.)  Film maker Antara Brandner, who worked with Will on a number of cultural and spirituality-themed projects, says that he told her recently that his full Cherokee name was Duyugodv Ayosdi Ji Dekananogis Awohali Tsiyohi Uhyali Do. (Although several sites have only the final three names listed.)

 

Growing up in the Washington, DC area, Will double majored in Anthropology and Communication (including TV, Radio and Film Production and Performance) at George Washington University, and his first professional jobs were media-related, at agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Indian Health Service. He later joked that he and his co-workers - many of whom acted in The Free Spirit Players, a Native American theater company that Will founded and was its artistic director in the 80's - were "Fed-skins," taking a pejorative term and turning it into a joke. Which is the sort of thing Will always did. He later earned a Master's degree in Educational Administration, and a doctorate in Anthropology from Pennsylvania State University. Only a couple of weeks before his death, while he was promoting his upcoming film festival, I teased him, asking him if that was Penn State, or State Pen? That kind of banter flowed freely whenever Will was around.

 

After working for museums in Pennsylvania, DC, and the Detroit area, Will moved to South Carolina in 1997 to be closer to family. He told me that he was amazed to discover that "the state didn't know who its first residents were," and that almost no one with Native heritage - Cherokee in particular - considered themselves to be Native. Much of that stemmed from a couple of centuries in which most of South Carolina's indigenous peoples opted to blend in with and marry into the state's white and African-American population, at a time when their relatives in North Carolina were being relocated to Oklahoma, and when a Native person of color wasn't allowed to own land. 

 

And so Will set out with a simple mission: to educate people of Native descent about their heritage, and to tell the rest of the world "We're still here." 

 

Along the way he partnered with the Nickelodeon to host the Native American Film and Video Festival of the Southeast, the organization's first "niche" programming event which provided the template for more elaborate events like Indie Grits; the festival concluded its landmark 20th year earlier this month. He worked with representatives from state government to acknowledge November as Native American Heritage Month in South Carolina, and to designate November 18th as Native American Awareness Day. The symbolic importance of those proclamations aside, he also helped the Cherokee in South Carolina to achieve formal state recognition as a tribe, and worked with the Commission on Minority Affairs to expand their mission to include Native Americans.

 

He led the Cultural Arts Ensemble, an American Indian dance group, which performed at numerous festivals and events, and was active with the South Carolina Traditional Arts Network. Will did countless presentations to school groups as a visiting artist and speaker through the S.C. Arts Commission and the SC Humanities Council, sometimes appearing in character as a particular historical figure, such as Sequoyah. He was always a popular guest lecturer at Heathwood Hall, which his niece Amanda attended, and he was instrumental in the creation of an Indian Medicine Wheel Garden in front of the school's campus center in 2010.  He painted. He sang, and danced.  A video clip of Will performing a traditional song can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFRobuzlqn0


He also created beadwork, a traditional craft learned from his great aunt. He did demonstrations of Native cooking techniques, and I fondly recall his appearance on campus a few years ago, serving his "Cherokee chili" to intrigued international students at an event hosted by USC's Office of Multicultural Affairs. (It was basically dough dipped in boiling oil, then lifted out to serve as a sort of flatbread on which chili was then poured.)  Books that he edited included: South Carolina Indians Today : An Educational Resource Guide (1998),  The People Speak: A Collection of Writings by South Carolina Native Americans in Poetry, Prose, Essays and Interviews (2002), and South Carolina's Native American Cooking : Cherokee Traditional & Contemporary Recipes with Additional Southern Recipes by Other Indigenous Natives (2005.)  As a member of the McKissick Museum's Advisory Council, he helped revive their annual celebration of folk life, rebranding the event as "FOLKFabulous," and served as guest curator for the year-long exhibition “Traditions, Change and Celebration: Contemporary Native Artists in the Southeast.”  Most recently, he collaborated on expanding the footprint of FOLKFabulous to reach a much wider audience, relocating to become part of the annual State Fair, and promoting their current exhibition “WELL SUITED: The Costumes of Alonzo V. Wilson for HBO’s Treme” which celebrates the blending of Native and African American culture and music in Mardi Gras.  In 2008, he was given the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for his work in the preservation of traditional arts and culture.  

 

Will was also a fervent supporter of progressive and faith-based causes. He served as Board President of the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina, representing the inclusive spirituality of Native Americans. At a screening of the film Kateri, about the first Native American saint, just three days before his death, Will was asked about the movie's historical authenticity. He noted that had the film been written by a person of Native descent, a key line spoken by a priest would instead have been spoken by Kateri herself, that the Christian God and the God worshipped less formally by Indians were one and the same. 

 

Some in the theater community knew much of the preceding, but many didn't. They just knew Will as a prolific actor, and a fun guy to be around. Who knows how many shows he was in?  I saw him in 19 over the last 9 years, and that was surely only half that he did in that timeframe, and there would have been that many or more dating back to 1997, when he made his Columbia stage debut as Bernardo in West Side Story at Town Theatre. Just a few recent credits include Ado Annie's shotgun-totin' father in Oklahoma!, the gambler whose heart is set on a horse named Valentine in Guys and Dolls, and the elocution professor in Singin' In the RainSugar, Evita, Les Miserables, Amadeus...the list is nearly endless. Will never had a problem being in the ensemble, or playing small character roles. In fact, he could often be found crewing backstage for shows he wasn't in. Family was very important to him, and often he wouldn't audition for a play if he knew that the runs dates conflicted with one of his nieces' graduation ceremony. 

 

Laurel Posey had this to share: 

I think Will was in the majority of the shows I've done since moving here in 1994, including The Producers, The Full Monty, Ragtime, La Cage Aux Folles, Seussical, and many others, mostly at Workshop. He worked everywhere, loved every single role, and loved to bond over those shared experiences....  I did love doing Tarzan with him (at Town Theatre) mostly because I loved watching (him with my husband) Frank together in an ad-libbed, pre-2nd-act bit where Frank as Professor Porter dubbed him "Kangala," his trusty companion on safari. I loved watching him work in Oklahoma at Town, too; he made Andrew Carnes hilarious and unforgettable (which is a tough job as scripted).  No matter where you put him, he gave it his all and usually offered something unexpected, unique, and memorable.  Will never did anything halfway... he was bigger than life, in all things. He was passionate, strong-willed, and tough. He was also incredibly generous. One of the things I've been thinking a lot about over the last few days is how he accepted everyone for exactly who they were. Now, if he thought you ought to be doing something differently, he'd tell you, repeatedly and in detail!  But no matter who you were, he appreciated you, warts and all. He wanted everyone to succeed... friends, strangers, his community, organizations, governments... he saw potential in everyone and everything.  He was a good man and I can't believe he's gone. We'll not see his likes again and the world's a little dimmer now.

 

Kerri Roberts played Will's daughter in My Fair Lady at Town in 2016. When I met her a few months ago, we pointed out this made her my stage granddaughter, or perhaps step-daughter, since I had played Will's role of Alfie many years previously. Will and I joked that the text clearly states that Alfie is part Welsh, and that was the reason for Will's tan complexion - he wasn't Native, he was just Welsh. Kerri shared these thoughts, which could have come from any of hundreds of former castmates:

In 1998, I was a senior at Columbia College. I auditioned for my very first role in a musical theater production, Town Theatre’s West Side Story.  I was cast as Maria - a dream role - but I felt nervous going into rehearsals because I really only knew one other person involved in the show.  Will Moreau was cast in the role of Bernardo, Maria’s brother. Having recently moved to Columbia, this was also Will’s first show in the Columbia theater community. From the very beginning Will was kind, reliable, supportive, and committed! Even though he, in his mid-thirties, had already done so much with his life, and I was a 21-year-old college kid, he made me feel special and took time to encourage me!  That show, that cast, was magical!  Some of those people, including Will, became friends that I will always have a special connection to.  I would not share the stage again with Will for 18 years, but he was implanted in my heart!

My family moved to Africa to live and work for 7 years and shortly after we returned at the end of 2014, I saw an audition posting for Mary Poppins.  I decided to go for it and audition!  It felt SO great to be back on the stage after 10 years and doing what I love most!  When tech week came around, who did appear backstage working crew?  None other than Will Moreau!  What a joy to reconnect!  He was so genuinely interested in what my life had been life in Africa, what my life was like now, my kids, etc.  He was such a person of great depth. There was nothing at all shallow about him.  We could skip over the small talk and get right to the good stuff.  The stuff that mattered, that we were passionate about.  Interspersed with silliness of course - Will was never always serious!

In the summer of 2016, my three daughters also got to know Will as he played King Triton in Town’s The Little Mermaid.  They were in the ensemble for that show and of course they also loved him. During that summer the announcement came out for My Fair Lady auditions.  I remember basically jumping up and down and squealing with Will because we were both so excited!  Eliza Doolittle was a bucket list role for me and Will really wanted to play the role of Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza’s father.  Auditions and call-backs later, more squeals and hugs and jumping around ensued when we both accepted the roles we so desperately wanted to play. It was definitely the role of a life-time for me.  Will was there all the way encouraging me once again - always making me smile and making me feel so good about my performance.  And he has to be the most lovable Alfie Doolittle that there ever was.  Oh my goodness.  Will poured his heart and soul and so much time and research into that role, as I’m sure every role he ever played.  He just loved it and his love radiated as he performed. After that he never stopped greeting me as “my noble daughter”.

He often asked me about roles and told me which ones he thought I needed to do someday.  We also dreamed about doing a “reunion” of our West Side Story cast and performing the “middle aged” version of the show!  Can you imagine? He was so supportive of the arts and artists in Columbia and really worked to try and bring people together within the arts community.  He was a great example in that way.

Some of my favorite memories will be fighting over the Secretary of State parking place (after hours of course) in the parking lot next to Town Theatre; watching Will, Chris Kruzner, Bob Blencowe, and Bill Dewitt pal around together; the adventure of never knowing what might come out of his mouth on stage; the time he performed “With a Little Bit of Luck” with his fly down (and the comments that followed!); watching him engage my introverted husband in deep conversation; his encouragement to me in ministry opportunities I had; his willingness to be involved even if he was just lending a hand back stage; his passion for the marginalized; his intellect; his ability to gently and gracefully talk to those who disagreed with him on political, religious, or social issues; his openness to learn from others and to teach; his very recent visit to my daughter’s 3rd grade class and her new-found interest in her Cherokee heritage. 

I wish now that I had many more opportunities to talk to him.  To learn from him. There was still so much about him that I didn’t know. Certainly I wouldn’t claim to be one of Will’s closest friends, but I would call him a big brother.  Mi hermano. I will miss him.  The world will not be the same.

 

Two other bucket list roles Will achieved were the Engineer in Miss Saigon, and Clopin, the Gypsy King in Hunchback of Notre Dame, the latter becoming his last role on stage. Shirley McGuinness was in both productions with him at Town Theatre, and also knew Will from St. Peter's - few people knew that Will was actually raised Catholic, and still attended mass on occasion. She said:

There are faces around Columbia that remind you that even though this City is the State Capital, it really can be a small welcoming town if you are willing to open your heart, broaden your perspective and be willing to share an experience.  Such moments can be epic as sharing a stage, motivating as calling for justice at a rally or moving as holding a hand in prayer.  Will Moreau was one of those first faces for me.  Not only was he willing to share the story for anyone who took the time to hear, but he was an active listener and encourager of making sure your voice was heard

 

Former congressional candidate Arik Bjorn shared this:

I considered Will a mentor, which he perhaps did not realize. I wanted Will to be at every major rally and event in which I participated. His presence was a very blessing upon the cause, and his embrace an encouragement that I was headed on the right path. (Because he never would have hesitated to tell me otherwise.)

One of my favorite moments was at the recent Love Thy Neighbor rally at the SC State House, which I emceed. Just minutes before the rally began, “YMCA” by The Village People started playing over the speaker system. Will, in full Native American regalia, performed impromptu the familiar dance upon the State House steps, then a few minutes later gave a very inspiring, spiritual benediction about people helping people. Will was a “full spectrum” public figure.

 

"This is how we did it in the 80's, y'all," Will proclaimed with glee in that video clip. And indeed, when he appeared in a scene in The Producers at Workshop in which the ensemble turns up in Village People attire, one guess which member Will embodied.

 

Visual artist Faith Mathis posted this on Will's Facebook page:

I remember the first time I saw you, was at the International Festival when I was 13. I had felt discouraged to represent the USA, and chose instead to dress in Japanese kimono to represent my cousins, because my schooling had made me think the USA had no original culture to celebrate. I saw you... in full traditional Native dress, (and) you sang our national anthem, and everyone was silent because your voice moved people. I too, was moved. Your presence and voice not only brought a much needed awareness and understanding of Native peoples to our community, but also showed what pure forgiveness, and pride for one's heritage looked like, and influenced me to feel proud of Native ancestors I have, who helped the natural beauty of our land flourish. You helped us to never forget who we are by just being yourself, and we will not forget you.

 

Antara Brandner offered these thoughts to Will:

Our collective hearts are broken at losing you so soon.  You leave such a powerful legacy of loving kindness, compassion and inclusivity.  From your friends at Heathwood Hall and The Academy For Future Science, we thank you and offer up blessings on your ascent.  From the stars you came ... and to the stars you shall return.  Wado, beloved friend, Wado Sgi.

 

At a candlelight memorial service outside the Nickelodeon - the marquee read "Rest in Power, Dr. Will Goins" - Antara Brandner and Jean Asbill Chow spoke eloquently and with great emotion about Will's compassion and humanity.  The latter's daughter, Kelsey Asbille, auditioned with Will for her first role at Workshop Theatre before going on to a career in film and television, and credits him with welcoming her into the Columbia theater community. Her mother explained how supportive Will had been of her daughter's career, encouraging her to seek out Native roles in the film Wind River - which opened the most recent Native American Film Festival, and for which Asbille returned to town as the guest of honor - and in the upcoming tv series Yellowstone, and to explore her Native heritage further.  Will always explained to me that his tribe had no percentage blood test or requirement - if you were of Cherokee descent, then that was part of your heritage.          

I was only in one play with Will, for about 10 seconds, my "cameo" in Spamalot at Town Theatre in 2015. Yet while I was waiting backstage, I enjoyed hearing his outrageous ad-libs during the scene in which Sir Lancelot storms the swamp castle. Voices from offstage are supposed to be screaming in terror, and the mike leading to the speaker I was closest to seemed to always pick up Will's voice from among dozens, with every line he spoke dripping with double entendre. And once that candlelight vigil ended, we all became less serious, and acknowledged that for all his gentle compassion, Will Moreau was a very, very silly man. Colleague Frank Thompson plans to organize an event in his memory in the new year that will be one part memorial, one part wake, and two parts roast, only appropriate for such a funny and loving gentleman.

 

The official celebration of Will's life will be held the day after Thanksgiving; details can be found at: http://www.palmermemorialchapel.com/obituaries/William-Goins-4/.  

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to

The Will Moreau Goins Memorial Fund at Town Theater 

1012 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29201

or

St Peter’s School - Children’s Arts & Music Program in Honor of Dr. Goins

 1035 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29201

~~~

A sound clip of Will singing Amazing Grace in the Cherokee language can be found at:  https://knowitall.org/audio/amazing-grace-will-moreau-goins-digital-traditions

Will in regalia.   

Will in regalia.

 

will nick marquee.jpg

Backstage: A New Musical Revue at Town Theatre, August 19

The Ensemble (Jennifer Davis, John Dixon, Jalil Bonds, Emily Clelland, Lisa Akly, Rachel Rizzutti, Nate Stern, and Samantha Livoti) eagerly read a review of their new show. Photo credit: Rebecca Seezen and Jimmy Wall  

The theme is familiar — an aging actress threatened by youth — but we’re giving it a fresh, new spin! BACKSTAGE will bring it all together through shared stories of a group of performers who frequent a bar constructed on the stage of a closed theater. Don’t miss an all star line up of Town veterans, including Dell Goodrich (Stand By Your Man), Mary Joy Williams (Nice Work If You Can Get It), Megan Douthitt (Mary Poppins), Corey Langley (The Addams Family), Bill LaLima (Les Mis), Bob Blencowe (Stand By Your Man), Allison Allgood (Sugar), Samantha Livoti (Singin’ in the Rain), Kathy Hartzog (The Honky Tonk Angels), Nate Stern (The Addams Family), Rebecca Seezen (Spamalot),  as well as a number of talented newcomers including Robin Saviola and Rachel Rizzutti (both seen in Village Square's 9 to 5)! Enjoy a “behind the scenes” look at show business through the songs of Applause (All About Eve), Curtains, Grey Gardens, The Act, The Magic Show, Seesaw, A Class Act, Me and Juliet, Barnum, Little Me and Mack & Mabel.

Production Assistant Eve (Mary Joy Williams) sees the Broadway Star (Dell Goodrich) that she can be someday in the mirror. Photo credit: Rebecca Seezen and Jimmy Wall

BACKSTAGE is written, directed, and choreographed by Charlie Goodrich with musical direction by Kathy Seppamaki (both recently seen in Nice Work If You Can Get It). BACKSTAGE is being presented as a part of Town Theatre’s commitment to emerging artists.

Come early for a complementary wine reception starting at 7:15 PM. Tickets are $10 general admission and may be purchased online at towntheatre.com or by calling the box office at (803) 799-2510.

Reminder: Nominations for Jasper Artists of the Year are due August 26th! More info here,

 

 

"Notes From an Awkward Ingénue" - Haley Sprankle on playing the lead in "Oklahoma!" at Town Theatre

Blocking rehearsals. All actors experience these, otherwise there would be no structure to the movement and physicality of the production. “… And then you kiss, kiss, kiss.”

But not every actor experiences what it’s like to be the ingénue.

After my whopping 18 years of life, I am stepping out of my comfort zone and becoming Miss Laurey Williams in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! at Town Theatre.

Theatre has encompassed almost every aspect of my life since I can remember. As a young girl, I sat in on my dad’s rehearsals for 1776 at Workshop Theatre and dreamed of one day playing Abigail Adams. I grew up idolizing people like Kristin Abbott (now Kristin Giant), Giulia Dalbec, Linda Posey (now Linda Collins), and Laurel Posey in each new production they were in whether they were in the ensemble or leading the show. At the age of five, I finally stepped on stage with the cast of Workshop Theatre’s Gypsy as the Balloon Girl.

Now, 13 years later, here I am.

Going into auditions for this show, I tried to keep an open mind with little expectations. I went in thinking that, with my past roles and experiences, Ado Annie would be the best fit for me if I were to be cast in a named role. She’s cute, has the one-liners, and has a certain quirky charm that fits my awkward personality.

Haley Sprankle (center, in green) as Laurey in "Oklahoma!"

In past musicals, I’ve played more comedic characters like Dainty June (Gypsy), a teenaged girl whose mother dresses her up as a child to perform, or Frenchie (Grease), a beauty school dropout. Those characters came naturally to me because they were such caricatures of a person with just some little moments of reality.

It was not until recently that I dabbled in the world of playing the “love interest.”  In Disney's The Little Mermaid, at Village Square Theatre in Lexington, I got a glimpse of what that was like as Ariel, but being surrounded by kids and by a very cartoon-like environment, it felt surreal. I then stepped into the role of Daisy Buchanan in Biloxi Blues at Workshop Theatre this past year. Although she was a genuine character, she was still a young school girl, experiencing puppy love for the first time.

After all that, I would have never thought that I would get to experience what it was like to play the romantic lead.

In an audition or callback setting, I try to stay true to myself and let the characterization come organically, but having little romantic experience, I figured that Laurey was out of the question. I went up on stage, sang and read from the script and score, and went home not expecting much but with a small spark of hope.

“How would you like to be our Laurey?”

When I woke up to those words, I felt like I was still dreaming.

Once cast, I felt so humbled and honored to portray such an iconic character in musical theatre at such a young age. With names like Shirley Jones to be associated with, approaching this role was no easy feat. I had to overcome my own fear of vulnerability and simply let the character happen.

I’ve been fortunate to have a wonderful team of people to work with, who constantly support me, and offer helpful tips and advice, while also allowing me to explore this world and character on my own. Working with people like Sirena Dib (Ado Annie) and Kathy Hartzog (Aunt Eller) - both of whom have such great talent, and more experience playing leads than I - has allowed me to rise to the occasion and learn through their actions.

“Am I making you feel awkward?”

Playing such a serious, picturesque character is something that is way out of my comfort zone. I’ll admit that after growing up in the theatre, I’ve developed somewhat of an eccentric personality. Although I am very serious about my performance and the process of it, my silliness offstage often translates to awkwardness. Normally, I utilize that awkward eclectic energy, and put it into my characterization when I’m in the ensemble or playing a more unconventional character.

Laurey Williams, however, is anything but awkward. She is confident, witty, and sure of herself. Laurey Williams knows how to make a man fall in love with her without even trying.  Laurey Williams is nowhere near Haley Sprankle.

Somehow, throughout the process, I had to learn how to let go of the idiosyncratic nature of Haley Sprankle, and embrace the confidence and grace of Miss Laurey Williams.

As another newcomer to the world of playing a romantic lead, Bryan Meyers has been so wonderful throughout the process. We’ve been able to learn with each other how to portray romance on stage believably. Despite my all of my awkward tendencies and quirky behavior, he’s really been able to hone in on the charm and romance that surrounds his character.

Kathy Hartzog, Haley Sprankle, and Bryan performing a scene from "Oklahoma!" at the Rosewood Arts Festival

Now, after about six weeks of rehearsal, opening weekend has finally come. Although I never would have imagined having this opportunity, I am so grateful and proud of how far not only I have come, but the cast as a whole has come.

“Places! Places, everyone!”

On opening night, the curtain rose, and I took my place on stage.

It all seems like a blur now, but what I can tell you is after that final bow, I couldn’t have been happier.

When I’m onstage, I’m no longer Haley Sprankle.

I am Laurey Williams.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma! runs through Sat. Oct. 11 at Town Theatre; visit www.towntheatre.com for ticket information.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Opens at Town Theatre

 

The buddy comedy has been around at least since Roman times and The Satyricon.  Shakespeare used the format for Two Gentlemen of Verona, and by the time Mark Twain introduced us to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, the basics were set: mismatched friends on an adventure, one smoother and slicker than the other.  Bing Crosby and Bob Hope did a dozen or so "Road" films (The Road to Singapore, The Road to Zanzibar, etc.) where the buddies would be on the run from some sort of trouble, and often ended up at odds over a girl, usually Dorothy Lamour.  The same set-up is the basis for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, the new musical running at Town Theatre through Sat. Feb. The Broadway hit was based on the Steve Martin-Michael Caine movie from 1988 (one guess which one was smoother and slicker) which was in turn based on a lesser-known 1964 comedy called Bedtime Story, starring David Niven and Marlon Brando (same question on slickness.)  The storyline follows two con men with differing styles as they run wild among the rich and famous along the French Riviera, with ensuing hilarity.

Scoundrels is directed by Scott Blanks, the man behind lively productions of The Drowsy Chaperone and Annie Get Your Gun at Town, and Victor/Victoria and Les Liaisons Dangereuses at Workshop. (As well as being responsible for getting you on your feet and rocking to his renditions of "Sweet Transvestite" at Trustus.) Doug Gleason (previously seen in White Christmas at Town) has the Steve Martin role, while the more suave of the pair is played by Kyle L. Collins, who has been in every show in the city in the last couple of years.  OK, not quite, but over the last three years he has played Frankie in Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, and Emile in South Pacific (all at Town), John Hinckley in Assassins at Trustus, the Governor in Best Little Whorehouse, Franz Liebkind in The Producers, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, and Coach Bolton in High School Musical, all at Workshop. Among other roles! The love interest is played by Giulia Dalbec-Matthews, an equally prolific local performer; you've seen her in many of the shows above, as Norma in Victor/Victoria, Sharpay in High School Musical, Cecile in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Hodel in Fiddler, as well as playing the older Louise in Gypsy , and choreographing Drowsy Chaperone, both at Town. Choreography is by relative newcomer Christy Shealy Mills, with musical direction by the multi-talented Lou Warth, who was the musical director for Willie Wonka and Cinderella at Workshop, and portrayed Erma in Anything Goes, Rose in Caroline, or Change (both at Workshop) and Missy in The Marvelous Wonderettes at Town.  A number of familiar faces from other shows round out the ensemble; I for one always feel comfortable when I recognize lots of people in smaller parts, because I know that whatever the material is, they will do a good job with it.

The production will run through Sat. February 4th with evening performances at 8 PM and Sunday matinees at 3 PM. Tickets are $12-20 and may be purchased by calling the box office, 799-2510, or stopping by the theatre, at 1012 Sumter Street. For more information, visit www.towntheatre.com.

You can find my review of this production at Onstage Columbia.

-- August Krickel