It is December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette, admired the world over for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle for a weekend of revelry. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Then it’s up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears. The danger and hilarity are nonstop in this glittering whodunit.
Starring in Town’s presentation of this mystery thriller is Chip Collins (Million Dollar Quartet) as William Gillette. Karen Herschell (My Fair Lady) portrays his elegant, though a bit foggy mother Martha. Clayton King (The Addams Family) takes on the role of Felix Geisel, the theatre company’s character actor with Sarah Strobolakos (You Can’t Take It With You) as his wry and outspoken wife, Madge. Town newcomer Kira Nessel, appears as Aggie Wheeler alongside William Ellis (The Little Mermaid) who plays her newlywed husband Simon Bright. Writing her way into the story line is Zsuzsa Manna (You Can’t Take It With You) as Daria Chase, celebrity columnist, with Allison Allgood (Les Misérables) as Inspector Goring. By turns, witty and incisive, then suddenly lost and dim, Goring is disarming in her inability to be defined. Always off the mark, and yet never far from the truth, somehow she always gets her man… Or woman.
The show is directed by Milena Herring with assistance from Jeffery Schwalk, stage management from Brandi Byers, costumes by Jillian Carey and technical design by Danny Harrington.
What would you say if we told you we could save you some money? Well, we can! Even though our season opener, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, has closed, we are now offering pro-rated memberships for a limited time. We have a great line up for the rest of the 99th that you don’t want to miss!
Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score. The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three gentlemen vie for her attention, Frollo also embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all.
Starring in the challenging role of Quasimodo is Jeremy Reasoner (Million Dollar Quartet, The Little Mermaid). His attention is focused on the entrancing Esmeralda, taken by Blakelee Cannon
(The Addams Family, Shrek the Musical) and Sheldon Paschal (Million Dollar Quartet, The Addams Family). The deceptive Dom Claude Frollo is being portrayed by George Dinsmore (Spamalot; The Buddy Holly Story) with Captain Phoebus in the hands of Town Theatre newcomer, and choir master for this production, Augie Gil. The king of the gypsies, Clopin, is being played by Will Moreau (My Fair Lady, Annie Get Your Gun).
A sweeping score and powerful story make The Hunchback of Notre Dame an instant classic. Audiences will be swept away by the magic
of this truly unforgettable musical.
Director ~ Jamie Carr Harrington
Musical Director ~ Michael Simmons
Choreographer ~ Tracy Steele
Lead Costumer ~ Jillian Carey
Town Theatre is excited about our 99th season — complete with something for everyone. Beautiful music, holiday cheer, heartwarming stories, a little mystery and toe-tapping fun! Each of these shows is NEW to Town — a hard task to accomplish when you are our age! Purchase your 99th season membership BEFORE JUNE 1 and enjoy the same price that you paid for the 98th!
Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score. The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be “Out There,” observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all. A sweeping score and powerful story make The Hunchback of Notre Dame an instant classic. Audiences will be swept away by the magic of this truly unforgettable musical.
A holiday classic from the writer of the musical theatre classic, The Music Man!, and based on the movie of the same name, Miracle on 34th Street features a book and score by none other than Meredith Willson. Single mother, Doris Walker, doesn’t want her six-year-old Susan’s head filled with romantic notions. Their neighbor, Fred Gailey, tries to woo Doris by charming Susan and taking her to see Santa Claus at Macy’s, where Doris works. Doris is not impressed, but when it turns out that Macy’s Santa may, in fact, be the real Kris Kringle, a wave of love spreads across New York City that melts even the most cynical hearts. This joyous, heartwarming musical is the perfect holiday treat!
Based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton, Big Fish centers on Edward Bloom, a travelling salesman who lives life to its fullest… and then some! Edward’s incredible, larger-than-life stories thrill everyone around him – most of all, his devoted wife Sandra. But their son Will, about to have a child of his own, is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales. Overflowing with heart, humor and spectacular stagecraft, Big Fish is an extraordinary new Broadway musical that reminds us why we love going to the theatre – for an experience that’s richer, funnier and BIGGER than life itself.
It is December 1936 and Broadway star William Gillette, admired the world over for his leading role in the play Sherlock Holmes, has invited his fellow cast-members to his Connecticut castle for a weekend of revelry. But when one of the guests is stabbed to death, the festivities in this isolated house of tricks and mirrors quickly turn dangerous. Then it’s up to Gillette himself, as he assumes the persona of his beloved Holmes, to track down the killer before the next victim appears. The danger and hilarity are non-stop in this glittering whodunit.
The 1950s are out, and change is in the air! Hairspray, winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is a family-friendly musical, piled bouffant-high with laughter, romance and deliriously tuneful songs. It’s 1962 in Baltimore, and the lovable plus-size teen, Tracy Turnblad, has only one desire – to dance on the popular “Corny Collins Show.” When her dream comes true, Tracy is transformed from social outcast to sudden star. She must use her newfound power to dethrone the reigning Teen Queen, win the affections of heartthrob, Link Larkin, and integrate a TV network… all without denting her ‘do! You can’t stop the beat in this big and bold musical about one girl’s inspiring dream to dance.
So what do you do when you are (arguably) the lead character in a musical, but you don’t sing any of the songs?
You enjoy the ride.
When I first saw that Town Theatre was going to produce Million Dollar Quartet, I immediately thought, “I want to be Elvis.” There was a reason for this – while playing Sandy in Elvis Has Left the Building back in 2014, my character was hypnotized and “became” Elvis.
Seemed like a natural progression, right?
Until I read that the characters have to play their own instruments. Uh-oh. The last time I touched a guitar was when someone taught me how to play the first couple of bars of “Hotel California” in high school (no, I don’t remember how to play it now). So, after obtaining a perusal script, I discovered that the character of Sam Phillips was perfect for me. And, boy, am I glad I made it, because these fellas (and lady) that are the real stars of this show are awesome. Our directors, Shannon Wills Scruggs and Jeremy Hansard, have put together an incredible group.
Ladies first. You can’t have a bunch of men sitting around in a group without a woman to keep them straight, and Sheldon Paschal certainly keeps all the guys in line. She brings a sultriness to the studio that keeps all of the guys just a touch off center (which is where artists are supposed to be, right?), and her rendition of “Fever” brings another dynamic to the show.
I’m not the only one who was hypnotized in Elvis Has Left the Building. My partner in crime, Charlie Goodrich, had that misfortune (or perhaps, fortune?) as well. But here, Charlie has traded in the white one-piece jumpsuit for an all-black wardrobe, playing a dead-on likeness of Johnny Cash. There are times when I close my eyes and listen, and I am really not sure whether I’m listening to Charlie or Johnny, and that is a testament to Charlie’s talent.
In this show, Elvis is played by Matthew Harter, who joined us later on in the process, and I am SO glad he did. There are some people you just look at or listen to the first time, and you know they’re special. Matthew is one of those people. Even though he is the youngest person in our cast, you would never know it. His voice is just pure, and he has really channeled all of the things that made Elvis the superstar that he became.
Of the four superstars in the Million Dollar Quartet, the one I knew the least about was Carl Perkins. However, after watching and listening to Alex Cowsert play him night after night, I want to know more. When I hear Cash, Elvis, and Jerry Lee Lewis, it’s only natural to compare the people playing them to the actual person. Well, when I listen to Carl Perkins, I will forever compare him to Alex. When he is playing and singing, the boy OWNS the stage. He performs with such a conviction that you want to focus on him and have him keep playing.
Jerry Lee Lewis? The man was overflowing with energy, and Jeremy Reasoner is no different. We’ve seen his singing talent on stage in Les Miserables and The Little Mermaid, but he will blow you away when you see him on the piano. There are some people who are musically talented in just about every way possible, and he is one of those people. He’s our de facto musical director on stage, and he really keeps things together.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about our killer rhythm section/studio band. Mikey Lowrey gives us a great steadiness as our drummer (and he chews his gum on the beat, too). Caleb Everson on guitar is such a talented guy with a quiet self-confidence about him, and you never know what he may be playing during down times (personally, I’ve heard both the theme song to “Jurassic Park” and Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” – goodness knows what else he has thrown in there. And Landon Osteen on the stand-up bass and acoustic guitar really makes these songs special.
It is truly a blessing to be able to sit back and hear these folks perform. Come to think of it, I’m glad I don’t have to sing.
It has been a dream of mine to direct You Can’t Take It With You for a long time. My love affair with this Pulitzer Prize-winning play began in 1969 when I watched, with fascination, the rehearsals of a Workshop Theatre production of You Can’t Take It With You. As an adolescent who loved everything to do with theatre, I often went to rehearsals with my mom when she was in a show. This was before Workshop had a home theatre of its own.
The play was rehearsed and performed in one of the wonderful old theaters on the base at Ft. Jackson. I was enchanted by the ‘30s style and setting, and I thought it was the funniest play I’d ever seen. And no wonder- – it was directed by Mary Arnold Garvin and starred some veteran Columbia actors including Jim E. Quick, Bette Herring (my mom), Tinka Tiemann, Malie Bruton Heider, Johnny DeHart, David Smoak, and Gene McKay, to name a few.
Flash forward 14 years to 1983. I was a young twenty-something, newly settled in Manhattan, trying to find work as an actress and director. One of my dear friends in New York was a fellow Columbian, Karl Allison, who had been in the city for a decade and was making his mark as a successful producer of Broadway and off-Broadway plays.
His most recent production, still in previews, was a revival of You Can’t Take It With You on Broadway. Directed by Ellis Raab, it starred Jason Robards, Colleen Dewhurst, James Coco, and Elizabeth Wilson. Karl invited me to be his date on opening night at the Plymouth Theatre and to the cast party afterward at the Rainbow Room. After quickly accepting his invitation, I spent the following weeks searching for an elegant dress to buy and expensive jewelry to borrow.
After being introduced to numerous bold face actors and celebrities on the way into the theatre on opening night, I worried I wouldn’t be able to focus on the play. But as soon as the curtain rose I was immediately transported to the comfortable, eclectic home of the Sycamore family in 1936. The production was marvelous with outstanding performances by Robards as Martin Vanderhoff, Wilson as Penny, and Dewhurst as the Grand Duchess who wrung a laugh out of every line she uttered. The play was as hilarious and joyful as I remembered from my youth but the biggest impact of the production on me was that the director and actors created real people out of what could have been just zany stereotypes. Moreover, the director knitted the entire ensemble into a big, lovable family that anyone would be proud to call their own. The show ended with the audience and the actors singing “Good Night, Sweetheart.”
Then it was off in a limousine to the cast party. Stepping off the elevator on the 65th floor of the NBC building into the iconic Rainbow Room, we were greeted by a waiter with flutes of champagne. A full band was playing music from the 1930s at the other end of the room. Karl led me to a table beside the famous revolving dance floor. Suddenly, I found myself sitting next to Robards at a table that included, off and on throughout the evening, Lily Tomlin, Dewhurst, George Hamilton, Coco, Meg Mundy and many, many other actors and industry people. Everyone was in high spirits since it was clear the show was a big success. The rest of the night is a blur but the next morning, Frank Rich, theatre critic for the NY Times, highly praised the production in his review and declared it “A family to adopt.”
Directing the Town production of You Can’t Take It With You brings my love affair with this play full circle. This cast is truly a dream team and is complemented by an equally talented crew and production team. Danny Harrington, Town’s technical director, has created a beautiful set and Jillian Carey’s costumes perfectly match the characters and the era. It has been a privilege to work with everyone at Town Theatre again this year. This play has been with me since the beginning of my life in the theatre. And it is an honor to say it has never been a disappointment.
Anyone who has even been around any aspect of community theatre knows the expression “many hands make light work.” While that may or may not be true, it certainly resonates with our season opening production of My Fair Lady. The show’s elaborate costumes are under the design of Janet Kile. Janet has worked with all the theaters in the Midlands and surrounding areas throughout the last two decades. She has worked both on and off stage. According to Janet, she has a preference for the off stage component which allows her to, “bring the show to life with color and texture.”
And that she does! One of the popular scenes of My Fair Lady involves the horse race at Ascot. Men don their white gloves and spats while the ladies of the era showcase elaborate hats. The lack of color — restricted to black and white — is also critical for the Ascot look. As such, Janet gathered a group of costuming crusaders with hopes of creating perfect Ascot hats for the production. Not only did she want the look to be just right — she wanted to have fun while doing it! On Labor Day, while many enjoyed the sun and surf, Janet and her team of wonders had a tea party in the lobby at 1012 Sumter Street and did their very best to exemplify how, when working together, the load becomes lighter.
Janet, alongside Nan Weaver, Jean Lomasto, Nancy Dunlap, Sandra Willis, Jillian Carey and Becky Patrick (who also doubles as a cast member), enjoyed high tea while crafting the afternoon away. Feathers, ribbons, gemstones, flowers, accoutrements galore — you name it. If it was black and/or white and could be affixed to a hat — indeed it was! With a primary purpose of working mightily on one the show’s iconic looks, Janet was sure to make sure that the bedazzling bonnet brigade enjoyed their afternoon — complete with cucumber sandwiches, deviled eggs, petit fours and, of course, tea! The luncheon was catered by Ripley Thames.
“Hats off” to all of our wonderful volunteers who made the afternoon so much fun. And, of course, we also “tip our hat” to costumer Janet Kile.
Someone should really speak to the Human Resources Department in this place! Have you seen the outfit that Morticia is wearing? I am sure it is not in line with our dress code policy. And while we are at it, I hope someone talks with Gomez about his choice of humor; he may need to attend sensitivity training. Both Pugsley and Wednesday need to be reminded of the workplace violence prevention policies and that they are not allowed to bring torture weapons or explosives to work. I am absolutely positive that Fester is having an inappropriate relationship with a co-worker, but he claims they’re not actually dating. In fact, every single person in this organization: living, dead (and undecided) is probably breaking some rule or regulation in one way or another!! But wait ~ HR actually approves of this?
Why, YES! Yes, it is true that with any company these types of problems would keep any HR Director busy all day and probably pulling their hair out. But when you are talking about the fantastic musical theater production, The Addams Family, these are just fun parts of the plot. What is even better is that each of these characters, and the rest of the ensemble, are wonderfully quirky and a delight to watch on stage. None of this happens by accident, it only happens when you have a remarkable team come together to deliver a quality performance.
I have spent most of my adult life working as an HR professional; first in the military, and now for a state agency. Human Resources is an important function for any organization because people are the most valuable treasure in that organization. I had a boss that said “Love Thy Treasure” and he meant take care of your people. But HR is challenging as I am sure you can imagine. People have lives. They have problems and concerns and it often falls to HR to help. So there is a great deal of responsibility to work here. Sometimes such responsibility wears even the most positive, cheery, optimistic person thin and they need a break or refuge. Theater is mine.
My first theatre role was as Michael in Peter Pan, complete with the footy pajamas, more than 30 years ago. I fell in love with being on stage and performing. For me, having the chance to entertain an audience and see immediate reaction just charges the batteries! As I traveled and moved in the military, small community theatre shows were my hobby and I enjoyed every opportunity to act, especially for my fellow Soldiers. When my family moved to Columbia and I was planning to retire from active duty, I was so excited to find such a vibrant theatre community in the area. The reputation for Town Theatre to produce quality family-oriented shows that celebrate both the familiar traditional shows and the new genre fresh from Broadway and the Touring companies was certainly a draw for me.
I have now had the privilege to be in three of Town’s shows: Disney’s Tarzan, Singin’ in The Rain, and now The Addams Family. Each one has been a fabulous experience. But The Addams Family has been truly special. For one, I joined the cast late as a replacement. From the very first rehearsal I was warmly received and it felt like I had been part of this group all along. When you spend hours each day over several weeks, you become a tight knit group. Each dance rehearsal we could see each musical number coming alive (or at least un-dead) and you can’t help but want to sing the songs. As this show came together you find yourself laughing at the laugh lines and jokes, as with any comedy show. However, what was different was you still have folks laughing days and weeks later even after hearing the same line numerous times. Not because the writing is so clever, but because the delivery and adaptation of the characters by these actors is so well done.
I guess this is the point from an HR professional’s perspective. It’s about the people. The cast and crew and leadership are what you want in your organization. They are caring, generous, capable, professional and serious about their craft. This group of volunteers give of themselves for others to have an enjoyable, memorable experience. I am proud and honored to be part of this team. So much so, that I have actively encouraged my day job office mates to come check out the show. It’s doubly satisfying to entertain one group of colleagues by singing and dancing on stage with another and give both groups some insight into this HR Director’s personality.
If your company was fortunate enough to have the kind of talent that is behind The Addams Family at Town Theatre, it would likely be one of the companies that are featured as “Best Place to Work.” It’s a great chance to have a night out with your co-workers. It makes for some fun conversations around the water cooler on Monday. So, consider it a team building exercise highly recommended by HR.
When I found out that Town Theatre was going to be doing The Addams Family, I knew I had to audition! Creepy and kooky were two things right up my alley. I actually walked in to audition for Pugsley Addams. Yep, I wanted to be the Addams’ son. (I didn’t think I would actually get it, but I needed to try for me.) So, on January 17, 2016, I drove to Town Theatre for auditions. I was extremely nervous. I had some friends with me — Tassie Collins and Danny Niati — they were my rocks for this audition. They kept me calm and even helped me with the dance routine. (And — it is so cool that they are sharing this show with me on stage!) Finding out I was cast was an even bigger moment for me. I was actually seeing a show when I felt my phone buzz. I was so excited that I wanted to tell everyone, but since the cast list wasn’t posted, I had to wait. It was an excruciating few days to say the least. When I could share the news, I shouted it from the mountain top. I had people telling me how excited they were and how they all wanted to come and support me. It was an amazing feeling. My journey had started.
I rehearsed more than I ever had ever rehearsed before. It made me smile every time I saw the people with whom I was going to share the stage get more into their own characters. With every line dance and bunny hop, we moved closer to an amazing show. Even with all of this practice, I was still terrified. I hadn’t been in a production since I was in high school. Would I mess up or fall on my face? Would I forget where to stand or how to move? Opening night was fast approaching.
My heart was pounding as I waited for the crypt doors to open and make my way onto the stage. As I walked out, the lights were so bright! In a flash, the opening number was done. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. Not being on stage — not the rush of performing. That feeling that was lifting me up was the support I had received from my cast mates — their pats on the back, their nods of encouragement. The cast of this show truly has become a second family to me. Every person started as an individual, but has come together to make this show something of which we are all very proud.
I am proud to say that I am a part of such an amazing cast and crew. I am proud to have been given the opportunity to perform and to be seen. I am proud that people have put their trust in me and support me. I’m also proud to say that you… yes you… you need to follow your dreams. You need to get out there and do what makes you happy. You need to try new things. If it doesn’t work out the first time, don’t give up. No one should ever have to ask, “what if?”
So as we launch into our third week of shows, I can only tell you how much I am enjoying being an Addams. And I know you will enjoy seeing us too! Snap snap!