Tag Archives: sharon graci

Pure Theatre’s Vibrator Play Has the Audience All A-Buzzing

This evening’s opening night of Pure Theatre‘s “In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play” had everyone in the audience quite a-flutter to say the least. Based in the Victorian era when electricity had just been invented, the play recounts a time when women were diagnosed with “hysteria” and treated with a new electronic machine to, um, calm their nerves.

The entire performance was extremely well executed. The decor in the opening scene really set the stage (literally) with a dark red velvet vintage doctor’s chair taking center stage.  I also liked the imaginative and clever ways the doors were “cut” in half so the audience could see into “the next room.” Costume designer Janine McCabe’s costumes were to die for – lots of corsets and bustles. I tried to talk her into parting with one for my personal collection.  I’m not done trying. 😉

The leading ladies – Pelham Spong, Andrea Studley, and Tara Denton – had me in stitches for 85% of the time. The other 15% I thought I might actually let some tears fall when they discussed Mrs. Givings, her baby, and the need for a wet nurse.  Nthenya Ndunda, who played the wet nurse, did an incredible job. Honestly, it really was the ladies who exhibited the more electrifying performances, as they should have with a play with such a subject matter as this.

Congrats, Pure Theatre and director Cristy Landis. I think this is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen you do. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with next. This one definitely had some pulses racing. You should go with someone you want to, um, hold hands with.

Be sure to catch a performance over the next couple weeks. 477 King Street, 843.723.4444, www.puretheatre.org.

words: Olivia Pool

Waffle Haus Christmas: We Have a S-T-A-R!

Service. Training. Attitude. Respect.  The are the makings of a Waffle Haus  STAR.

She's got three things on her list...

A family is reunited through a Christmas Miracle, as the the ghosts of Waffle Haus Christmas Past, Present and Future come to visit this redneck colorful family in Rodney Lee Roger’s Waffle Haus Christmas.

PURE Theatre pays attention to details.  From the moment you walk into the theatre, Jimmy, played by Rodney Lee Rogers, greets you with a menu, the playbill cleverly designed and laminated like a Waffle House menu.  Pay attnetion, the little quips tucked in it are hilarious.

Sharon Graci plays Sally Ann, the matriarch of this rag tag team, and Sullivan Graci Hamilton stars as their daughter Bella, whom they describe as ‘special,’ which Hamilton plays to the max.  She’s the definition of comic relief, but you have to pay attention, her moments can be subtle or eclipsed by the larger action at hand.  Tripp Hamilton plays the Ghosts, a trio of stereotypes and humor.

Graci and Rogers have the back and forth timing of a well-polished cast.  Also their ability to handle the shocking number of latecomers humorously showed years of rolling with the punches that come with stage acting.  There’s no ‘Cut!’ here.  And they make it work flawlessly.

I was a little confused by the transitions back and forth addressing the audience and breaking the fourth wall and the story was told several times from multiple view points, but it made sense in the end.  Sally Ann is surly in one telling and sultry in another, Jimmy is ‘the man’ in one, a slightly nervous and jealous man in another, and it’s all hysterical.

I highly recommend you make Waffle Haus Christmas a priority for your holiday entertainment.  Leave the kiddies at home with grandma, this one’s not for them (language).  Waffle Haus Christmas is showing through December 23.

PURE Theatre, 477 King Street.  www.puretheatre.org

LAST CHANCE: PURE Theatre’s Next Fall

PURE Theatre does it again.  Next Fall is fantastic, and in its closing weekend.  So if you already have some tacky sweater Christmas party on your agenda, break your plans, and make your way to Upper King for this show.

Do you like really intelligent, well-done theatre, that is funny even in the poignant moments?  Then Next Fall is for you.  PURE Theatre consistently puts on some of the most touching performances.  Human vulnerability at its very best.

Next Fall takes a measured and insightful look at relationships–between families, between friends, between lovers.  It’s a humorous play, but with some tear-jerking moments.

Without giving too much away, the examination of how people act in relationships, their fears and their misgivings, and how they deal with loss is central to the play.  Playwright Geoffrey Nauffts looks into the human psyche, to what motivates the players, and how their actions, beliefs, and prejudices affect the people around them.

PURE Theatre artistic director and co-founder Sharon Graci directs; Michael Catangay, Brannen Daugherty, Katie Huard, Michael Smallwood, Lucille Keller and Evan Parry star.  Next Fall is written by Geoffrey Nauffts, and makes its regional premier at PURE.

477 King Street.   www.puretheatre.org or 866.811.4111 for tickets.

Time Stands Still. You’ll Stand Up

 

Sharon Graci as Sarah Goodwin in Time Stands Still

PURE Theatre has opened their 9th season, aptly titled Coming Home, in new digs at 477 King Street on Upper King Street.  Time Stands Still is the season opener and this is the regional premier of Donald Margulies’ play, starring Sharon Graci, David Mandel, Mark Landis and Katie Smith.  Randy Neale directs.

Theatre in Charleston provides you with many options and venues for the entire length of the performing arts season.  Some good, some not so good, some are really good.  Time Stands Still is an example of the really good.

Graci plays photo-journalist Sarah and her writer boyfriend Jamie is played by Mandel.  She literally looks like something the cat drug in as Jamie helps situate his stubborn and severely wounded love.  During her last assignment, Sarah and her ‘fixer’, the translator on the ground, were struck by a roadside bomb, killer her companion and landing her in the hospital, unconscious for two weeks.

You know those kind of people, the ones who can never slow down.  Even in the face of death and a long healing process, Sarah continues to say, ‘what’s next?’

Sarah’s loved ones look at her brush with death and have more normal reactions.  Jamie wants to get married, her editor and friend Richard settles down with a sweet girl, who while half his age, gives him the love and optimistic outlook that years of journalism seem to have robbed the rest of the cast of.

The cast is strong.  Really strong.  The set, costuming and music is all secondary, and doesn’t really matter in the face of stand out acting.  It could truly fade away and you probably wouldn’t notice.

Graci is the pinnacle of this cast.  Her ability to completely ‘become’ the gifted yet cynical Sarah is astounding.  When she takes the stage, there is nothing left of the actress, she is totally and solely the character.  Her timing and nuances are perfect.  Nothing feels false or overly ‘acted.’

Graci, PURE Theatre’s artistic director and co-founder, spends more time directing than acting these days, so this is a real treat.  I found myself wondering why Graci isn’t a household name.  If you’ve never seen her, you owe it to yourself to see this production.

Mandel’s Jamie is an earnest and endearing man.  Almost losing his beloved Sarah has clearly affected Jamie, and he is trying so hard to be the support that she needs.  His rants are especially fantastic.  It’s hard to get so worked up on opinions that aren’t your own, and Mandel does a great job.

You can tell Landis has been around the stage a time or two, and knows what he’s doing.  He transitions smoothly between his roles as friend and boss to Sarah and Jamie, lover to Mandy and new father.

Mandy, his doe-eyed young girlfriend, has a ‘cockeyed optimist’ kind of outlook on life, born from a simpler and less tragic life experience. She is wonderfully loyal while also trying to make a genuine connection with Sarah and Jamie, who so clearly consider her almost trivial and vapid.

So why will you stand up for Time Stands Still?  For me, the last scene was so incredibly poignant, heartbreaking and honest, that I literally sprang to my feet when the stage lights came up.  It’s not often such an intimate setting and excellent acting coexist.

You have five more chances to see Time Stands Still, October 7, 8, 13 & 14 at 7:30 pm, and October 9 at 2 pm.  Don’t miss it.  Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for student rush, with valid id, or call 866.811.4111.