Tag Archives: theatre

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


SCOOP’s Bill Mead at the Footlight Players Theatre

There are few things that we love more than connecting a talented artist with a great venue like the Footlight Players Theatre. When they contacted us about finding someone to feature on their walls for the upcoming Charleston Comedy Festival, we were excited to help!

"Trio" by Bill Mead

If you made it to SCOOP Studios before their final show, you will surely recognize Bill Mead’s unique landscapes by the large vegetables in the foreground of each piece. While the closing of  SCOOP’s Broad Street location was a bittersweet event, their online gallery is still alive and well. We are glad to be sharing Bill Mead’s talents with a new audience, thanks to the suggestion of SCOOP’s Colleen Deihl.

Footlight Players loves displaying art inside their theatre

Six of Bill Mead’s pieces will be on display at the Theatre from now through the month of February, including the fantastic trio of squashes above. Stop by the Footlight Players Theatre on Friday or Saturday for the Charleston Comedy Festival! Showtimes vary. Get more info: www.charlestoncomedyfestival.com

Something “Wicked” This Way Comes

Prepare yourselves for the Broadway experience of a lifetime, as the internationally acclaimed musical Wicked is coming to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center this spring!

Glinda and Elphaba, the Witches of Oz

Wicked is an insightful tale of two young witches of Oz, their unlikely friendship, and how they became known as Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West, based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked.

Once immersed in this musical, the viewer is exposed to a fresh perspective on L. Frank Baum’s classic story and the society surrounding it, painting the world of Oz in shades of grey – or rather, green.

Employing over 200 pounds of dry ice; a 15-member orchestra, including several members from the Charleston area; and phenomenal costuming, Wicked brings an atmosphere of sheer energy and spectacle to any stage the production graces.

Embark on this magical journey and discover the spell-binding experience that is Wicked April 18 – 29, 2012.

Tickets for groups of 20 or more are now available at 843.529.5007 or www.northcharlestoncoliseumpac.comBest of Broadway season tickets are also on sale, and include coming productions of In The Heights, Mamma Mia! and Mary Poppins.

Roxie Rocks Chicago: One of the Best in a While

Chicago playing at Dock Street Theatre through Sept 18

Charleston Stage opens their season with a well-done production of the award-winning musical Chicago with a solid cast, choreography and vocals.

Vanessa Moyen shined as Roxie Hart, the adulterous dame who is quick on the draw when her lover tries to end their affair.  Gives new meaning to the phrase ‘love her or leave her.’  Josh Harris, playing her adoring, cuckold husband Amos, got lots of love from a sympathetic audience.  He had a big song to sing with Mr. Cellophane, and we all agreed that he did it justice.

The classic opening song All That Jazz, sung by Jillian Kuhl as Velma Kelly, and the company, had audience members dancing along in their seats, which is probably the best thing a cast could hope for.

Velma, Matron Mama Morton, Bill Flynn all played up their characters, although Flynn could have let a little more time pass before delivering some of his cutting punch lines.  The script is good.  Give it time to be heard.

The Six Merry Murderesses were entertaining, and the Cell Block Tango a treat, especially ‘Pop’ who sang about her husband Bernie’s grating bubblegum snapping habit.  She fired two warning shots.  In his head.  Hey, he was warned.

We would have liked to see the costumes a little snazzier.  However, we must admit that we’ll be trying to recreate our own fringed hot pants like the pair that graced Roxie’s bottom half.  What outfit is complete without tassels on your derriere?!

Chicago opens the 34th Season of Charleston Stage at the Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church Street.  Remaining performances: September 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, & 1 7 at 7:30 pm, September 11 & 18 at 3:30 pm.  Visit www.CharlestonStage.com for tickets.

The Red Shoes: Kneehigh Theatre returns with another reinvented tale

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Two years ago, Kneehigh Theatre came to Spoleto with Don John, their re-imagined tale of the ultimate lover.  It was sexy and provocative, boundary pushing (crossing?) and really well done.  The soundtrack was amazing.  Naturally, expectations were super high when Spoleto announced Kneehigh would return with The Red Shoes.  There have been mixed reviews trickling to my ears, but I’m going to tell you my own thoughts.

Like Don John, they used their set creatively and made many locations out of a minimal set with simple yet effective changes.  Costuming also was minimalistic, base costumes were nothing more than skivvies and undershirts, layering outfits over top for each character.  We particularly loved Lydia’s big pimping coat.  I have to say, the white dress for the Girl reminded me more of mental patient than innocent confirmation candidate, but I loved the transition of her dress from white to red as the story wore on.

The makeup also had a slightly sinister or decaying look, with darkened eyes that looked like a ghost or a corpse.  Made the whole ‘dance until you die’ thing very believable, as they already looked dead, or at least impoverished.

While no one seems to be quite as impressed with The Red Shoes as they were with Don John, I still think it is a very worthy production.  They communicated a lot with very little in the way of set or costumes, which makes you have to work much harder as an actor.  Elaborate sets, flashy effects, over the top costumes all can mask a flawed production, like an overly chilled cheap white wine.

So, I vote yes, go see The Red Shoes.  If you still need more convincing, there is an accordion.  You know how we love accordions over here.  Enjoy.

Peter Pan Flies Us Back to Neverland

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday night we strolled over to the Dock Street Theatre to see The Original Peter Pan, produced by Charleston Stage.  Keeping very close to J.M. Barrie’s novel, The Original Peter Pan was a fun and funny evening of theatre with some touching moments.

People sometimes mistake “children’s theatre” as little kids dressed up in contrived costumes putting on a school play.  This was much more.  The Original Peter Pan had every child spellbound, but it was fun for the grown ups too.

They fly.  Who doesn’t want to fly?  Cable wires hoisted the cast high into the air, a little awkwardly at times.  Considering it was the last weekend of the run, I thought they’d be more adept at it, but it does look challenging.

Hook.  Kyle Barnette reprises a role he’s filled several times before.  This Hook was a preening, prancing one, alternately fearsome and cowardly, sending his crew to deal with his dirty work.  When not sword fighting or sending people to walk the plank, The Captain sauntered about the stage, polishing his hook and fluffing his hair.  Priceless and hysterical.

Peter.  “I just want to be a little boy and to have fun,” the petulant Pan says repeatedly.  He is stubborn, whiney and quick to anger, but also quick to be jovial and lighthearted.  Seriously, Peter might have been bipolar.  Jordan Ellis did a great job of keeping the audience, especially the children, engaged.

The Tear Jerker Moment.  When the sassy and loyal Tinkerbell drinks the poison Hook poured into Peter’s medicine, which Wendy has made him promise to take, Peter appeals to the audience for help to heal her.  “If every child believes in fairies, she can get better.  Do you believe in fairies?”  Every single child in the theatre cried out YES!  They didn’t miss a beat.  It was the sweetest thing.

Clever Staging.  Tinkerbell was a sparkle green light, just the right shade, and tinkling music served for her voice.  The crocodile was a fascinating contraption on wheels and Lee Hollis Bussie gave the tick-tocking, crotchety old croc a lot of personality.  The Nursery set had some very clever rigging, from the drawer that Tink gets trapped in to the little wings where flying wires could be attached.

The Original Peter Pan was the last show of the 2010-2011 season of Charleston Stage, but never fear.   The already have an exciting line up for next season.  The Piggly Wiggly Family Series will be The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day and The Wiz.  Check the full lineup and buy your season tickets now at www.charlestonstage.com.

Good Tidings for Charleston Arts

It’s been a big week in Charleston.  The beleaguered Charleston Symphony Orchestra announced that, after some intensive restructuring, it is back in business and resumes operations this month.  They had to do some serious downsizing, and cut their operational budget in half.  The smaller core orchestra of just 24 musicians will be augmented periodically by ‘freelance’ musicians, if you will, and the former CSO musicians will get preference for those jobs. It sounds like the board of directors did their best to take care of the musicians who were let go, especially right before Christmas.

We are so pleased that the CSO will continue, and applaud them for taking the big steps they had to to keep the organization sustainable–but at the same time mourn the loss of jobs for many fine musicians and the passing of long time director David Stahl, who lost his battle with cancer this fall.

The CSO’s first performance will be in conjunction with the CSO Chorus on December 18th.  Visit www.charlestonsymphony.com for more information and tickets.

The late David Stahl directing the CSO in 2004


PURE Theatre opens Waffle Haus Christmas tonight.  Written by co-founder Rodney Lee Rogers, and starring Rogers, wife Sharon Graci, and Graci’s children Sullivan Graci Hamilton and Tripp Hamilton.  Should be a tasty little holiday snack.  Check out the P&C’s preview.

Sharon Graci plays a pissed off waitress stuck working on Christmas Eve in "Waffle Haus Christmas"

Tonight, I will be attending Charleston Stage‘s production of A Christmas Carol.  As I am always a sucker for a good ghost story and Christmas is my favorite holiday, second only to my birthday four days later, I am looking forward to this very much.  Will report back later!

A Christmas Carol playing at Dock Street Theatre