Category Archives: Tributes

Reflections on West Side Story – Take One

Editor’s Note: In our current production of West Side Story – we have three “veterans” of the show one being the director, David Swicegood. David directed Town’s 1998 production and it was stellar. Here are some of his memories of that show that you may enjoy.

“One of my fondest memories of West Side Story in ’98 was, having David Swicegoodcast almost the whole show {at least in my mind}, but I still hadn’t seen a Maria. The last person to audition was a lovely young dark-haired girl who looked EXACTLY how Maria should look. I closed my eyes and said “Please God. let her be able to sing!” Well, her name was Kerri Grimsley {now Roberts} and when she began singing I literally cried! Her voice still takes my breath away, and I couldn’t be happier to have her play Maria again, as beautiful as ever and a voice possibly better than it was 20 years ago.

I also had a “youngish” man named Tom Baldwin who auditioned for the role of Doc, a non-singing but important character role. The script described the character as being in his 60s and Tom was much younger than that! I had a good feeling about Tom however and cast him as Doc. He was so good! I thought about him when I found out I would be directing the show again and, to my surprise, he came to auditions! And now he’s the right age to play Doc! He actually wrote on his audition form “I am the ONLY Doc!” And he is.

My long-time friend Maurice Curry came down from New York to collaborate with me as the choreographer for the show in ’98 and did an amazing job! We tried to get him to come back and do it again, but due to his responsibilities as the Executive Artistic Director of the Eglevsky Ballet Company in New York, was unable to commit to it this time. The wonderful Joy Alexander took the helm as Choreographer and has been AMAZING!! Things DO work out!

During the ’98 show, I also got to work with a very talented young lady named Shannon Louise Willis, whom I had directed in The All Night Strut, my first directorial job at Town Theatre. She was Rosalia in ’98 and was fantastic, as she always is! I directed her again the next year in Sweet Charity, and you probably know that, in addition to singing, directing and choreographing at Town, she is now the Executive Director of the theatre. Just shows you that when theatre is in your blood, it’s there forever.

I also would like to mention that several of my ’98 cast have gone to professional careers in theatre, film and television including Brian Childers, Mark Childers, Melinda Schmidt {now Wrenn Schmidt professionally} and Jennifer Austin. I’d really like to think I played a small part in instilling in them {and all the cast, then and now!} a love of performing and especially the joy of live theatre.

One last memory to share ~ I had finished casting the show in ’98 except the role of Bernardo. I got a call from Sandra Willis, Town’s Executive Director at the time, and she sort of whispered: “Bernardo is in my office!” I asked her to see if he could wait a few minutes and I raced to the theatre and met Will Moreau who, of course, became Bernardo. It was his first show in Columbia and Will became a household name and mainstay of Columbia theatre. Not only was he a good actor but also a great friend and tireless advocate for many causes until his untimely passing last year. He is greatly missed and will long be remembered for his contributions to our city. Rest in peace, friend.”

~David SwicegoodWSS will

MIXED EMOTIONS…

MIXED EMOTIONS…

It is with both sadness and excitement that we share the news that Jamie Harrington, Town’s long-time Youth Theatre Director, will be departing at the end of the summer. Jamie has accepted a job with Dutch Fork High School as a theatre educator. Jamie has been with Town for more than a decade instructing our youth as well as assisting our Technical Director and directing/performing in some of our main stage shows. We are truly happy that Jamie is off on another adventure and are grateful for her service to Town. While we will miss having her here, we are excited about the opportunity to partner with yet another theatre educator in the school system. We also are excited that she plans to be back as a main stage show director.

While we announce this departure, we welcome the arrival of Scott Vaughan who will take on the role of Youth Theatre Director. Scott currently serves as the theatre instructor at Satchel Ford Elementary School and, in this capacity, brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge and talent to the table. Scott has performed on the Town stage as well as throughout our local community and the country.

Our youth theatre program will continue to be served this year by Megan Douthitt, Assistant Director, and Jeremy Reasoner, Musical Director. We are excited to have this team together. Details for our fall 2018-2019 program may be found here.

In honor of Jamie, Town is establishing a scholarship fund that will allow students to participate in our youth theatre programs who financially may not be able to do so. If you would like to contribute to the fund in Jamie’s honor, you may donate here. Simply note your contribution is in honor of Jamie Harrington. Or, send your donation to Town Theatre, 1012 Sumter Street, Columbia, SC 29201 with an indication that your gift is for the scholarship fund.

Will Moreau Goins Memorial Fund at Town Theatre

Town Theatre is grateful to honor the request of the family of Will Moreau Goins to establish the Will Moreau Goins Memorial Fund at Town Theatre. Will was an integral part of the Town Theatre family for the last 19 years and we will not be the same without him.

To contribute to the fund, gifts may be sent to Town TheFor 19 years, you illuminated our lives and our stages.atre at 1012 Sumter St., Columbia, SC 29201. Or, you may give online here and note that the gift is a tribute to Will.

Town was also humbled by the invitation to remember Will at the reflection service held Friday, Nov. 24 at Palmer Memorial Chapel. The remarks, delivered by Town’s Executive Director, Shannon Willis Scruggs, are included below. They were presented on behalf of the Town Theatre board and staff, the many cast and crew members who worked with Will and audiences who enjoyed his craft.

We will continue to remember Will’s family in our thoughts and prayers and stand alongside everyone who is still mourning the loss of this bright light.

“Thank you to the entire family for the invitation to remember Will this evening.

Almost everyone who knew and loved Will continues to struggle with his passing. It doesn’t make sense ~ it doesn’t seem real. I keep waiting for him to run down the theatre aisle, 15 minutes after rehearsal has started, with that hand waving in the air and that sheepish grin on his face as if to say, “yes, yes, sorry I am late…”

But, as much as we want it to, that won’t happen again. And it hurts. And, that is also why tonight is challenging. It forces reality into a situation that has broken many hearts.

One of the first lines on Will’s theatrical resume says, “Will Moreau refuses to fall into any simple/typical category.” On stage, Will took on characters ranging from A to Z. His roster of roles is so varied and complex. And, be it in the ensemble or as the evening’s emcee, Will was fully dedicated to each of his characters, making them his own. His life away from the stage also mirrored that refusal to be “typecast.” Will spent his time involved in and with so many different groups ~ cultural, historical, educational, religious, artistic ~ whether he was the leader or was being led, just like with his stage characters, he was 100% committed.

I am also reminded of how Will would submit a bio for the playbill. It is pretty customary for folks to thank family and friends for supporting them in their shows. And, it is also a pretty regular occurrence for people to send in paragraphs that are a tad long for the available space. And, yes, Will did both. But this is what strikes me now ~ Will’s final sentence in each and every bio that he submitted was almost always identical. He would say, “Will dedicates his performance to God, his family, his true friends and his teachers/colleagues for their support.” Will would take the time to make sure that if anything had to be cut for space, we knew that it was important to leave in that dedication. We could take anything else away, but he wanted that consistent, unwavering expression of thanks to be one of the final statements for an audience to read.

I can only assume the heartache caused by Will’s absence will be with us for a long time. But, I believe there is healing in remembering how he lived. He showed us how to take on life in all of its variety ~ and to do so wholeheartedly. And, in the midst of it all, he reminds us to never forget (and to constantly acknowledge) the support provided through faith, family and friends.”