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A Year in Review…

PC: Fig Columbia

As we reflect on 2022, we are filled with gratitude. After a few years of walking very carefully across the footlights, we were so excited to sing, dance and act our hearts out.

We were fortunate to add capacity to our technical team with additional assistants. Doing so allowed us not only to enhance our set, lighting and sound elements but also promoted introducing new people to the world of technical theatre.

Early in the year, we hosted a one-of-a-kind front-of-house volunteer appreciation event in conjunction with The Red Velvet Cake War where we created “to-go” boxes like you would get at your own family reunion ~ full of surprises that fit the theme of the Southern comedy. Just a fun way to say “thanks” to our ushers, house managers and box office volunteers without whom we could not survive.

Last spring brought warmer weather and two beautiful shows to the stage ~ Bright Star and Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical. Audiences commented on how moving these musical productions were, each in their own unique way.

We rock-n-rolled this summer with 11 full sessions of summer camp, including our unique “Theatre in a Box” camps introducing students to the many elements of musical theatre. Our blockbuster show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat had audiences yelling for more.

In the fall we partnered with the City of Forest Acres for our third round of Picnics in the Park. Great music in a great neighborhood for three consecutive Friday evenings made for a nice change of scenery outside of the walls of Town. We appreciate the City’s support of this concert series.

We opened the 103rd season with The Music Man and just wrapped A Christmas Story: The Musical. Both big musicals were well received and a fantastic duo of shows to start another season at Town.

Our youth theatre fall show, When Christmas Comes to TOWN, brought even more holiday to our hearts as our traditional youth theatre students were joined by our auditioned troupes, the Town Tweens and the Town Teens, to present an original holiday musical featuring ALL students in very special ways.

And, that’s not all ~ we filled our stage during the holiday but we also spent time in our community spreading cheer for all to hear! Visit here to read about the exciting performances experienced during the month of December thanks to so many talented musicians and students.

After a long winter’s nap, we’ll be ready to kick off 2023 with The Play That Goes Wrong… one of Broadway’s funniest shows in years!

Thank you for being a part of Town Theatre. We are fortunate to have such great audience members, faculty, staff, actors, students and families who continue to join us. We’re excited about the rest of the 103rd season and want to be sure that we are working hard to bring you the very best in quality theatre and entertainment. So, if the time is right, we’d be honored to have your support with a year-end gift. Your gift to Town Theatre will help the spotlight shine brightly into 2023.

Townies Around Town

Not only did we fill our stage during the holiday but we also spent time in our community spreading cheer for all to hear!

Forest Acres Sweet Seasons
Our Town Tweens, Town Teens and Town Carolers (Lou Boeschen, Shannon Scruggs, Davis Herndon and Joel Yarborough) enjoyed the evening in Forest Acres to help kick off the holiday season. It was a pleasure to mingle and sing AND to help light the Christmas tree with Mayor Brunson and the City Council.

Junior League Holiday Market
Town performers partnered with Columbia Ballet School dancers to present a holiday showcase at the Jr. League Holiday Market. Our Town Teens performed their seasonal pieces, “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “White Winter Hymnal.” Mary Jayne Davis, Nathan Jackson and Juliet Gregg performed solo pieces and Abby Gamble represented the cast of A Christmas Story: The Musical. David LaTorre, Town’s Youth Theatre Director, also shared his vocal talents. Thank you to Joy Alexander and Columbia Ballet School for allowing us to be a part of this fun event!

Brockman Elementary School
After a brief hiatus, Town Theatre is thrilled to be back at Brockman Elementary School, leading students in theatre classes. Under the umbrella of our Youth Theatre program, David LaTorre has assembled a team of assistants who helped create two winter wonderland showcases in only six weeks. Our thanks to the team including David, Nathan Jackson, Chelsey Art, Lee Martin and Jane Cato. Next semester will be another great opportunity to connect with Brockman students and their families!

Pre-Show Music
Oh, what fun it was to sing Christmas carols and perform in advance of our main stage production of A Christmas Story: The Musical. Our Town Tweens and Town Teens each shared a holiday piece for one of the performances. Our Town Carolers from Sweet Seasons made several encore performances from the upper vestibule of the lobby as did other amazing vocal groups comprised of David LaTorre, John LaTorre, Davis Herndon, Adam Bigony and Daniel LaTorre. And, as a closing weekend treat, audiences were serenaded by Lee Saxton. Thank you to our many musicians who added extra cheer to the season!

Honoring Milena

Milena Herring passed away on October 4, 2022. In her youth, Milena spent time as an actress on the Town Theatre stage. In her later life, we were honored to have her as one of our stage directors. She will be missed. The first show Milena directed for us was A Christmas Story in 2015. From then she took the reins to bring us You Can’t Take It With You and The Game’s Afoot. She was slated to direct Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville for the 101st season but had to decline as the complications from MS made it too difficult. At that time, we held a special evening to honor Milena’s work and requested donations which we shared with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

As we embark on the musical version of this same show Milena first directed at Town Theatre, we felt it would be fitting to do something to honor her life and her contributions to our theatre community. Her obituary noted that contributions may be sent to Town Theatre. We are so grateful for that designation and wanted to share with you what we plan to do with any gifts sent our way. We will establish a seat in our historic theatre in her name; create a playbill wall plaque commemorating her directorial debut at Town and support efforts to make the theatre more accessible.

From her obituary ~

“But it was her work in the theatre that sustained her throughout her life, and she directed local plays as long as the MS symptoms permitted her to do so. She was all-in on the process: From auditions to the final curtain. There were never any shortcuts. No mercy when it came to forgetting lines or missing a mark. The theatre process was her greatest love – as an actor and a director. And it broke her heart when MS took away her ability to keep pace with its demands. Directing and the theatre didn’t always pay the bills, but it was where she was her best self and the most at home. Milena spent a lifetime entertaining people.”

Want to participate? Visit this link. https://bit.ly/3GhKzyU

Theatre therapy

Post by David Wilson with an intro by Town Theatre

The most special parts of Town Theatre are her people. Many of us have Town Theatre stories – and we love to hear them! When we happen upon one that touches our hearts, we like to share. This story does just that. Thanks, David, for being willing to document just what this experience has meant to you.

“Howdy, let me make the first of two introductions. My name is David Wilson. I am 39 years old, married with two young children. I am a transplant from… yup, you guessed it, Ohio. In Ohio, I was a Field Technician for a major telecommunications company. In 2016 I developed an auto-immune disorder that attacked my joints. This not only made my daily life difficult, but I was also no longer able to climb telephone poles and ultimately ended up on disability. My condition is made worse by the cold. After several pain-filled Ohio winters, we made the decision to relocate to Columbia last summer.

The second introduction is for my Grandpa Sam. He passed in March of this year. He was a pastor for 55 years. He was highly educated with two doctorates. I have witnessed him many times go without so that others could eat or be warm. He was quiet, yet he had presence. He was also a skilled craftsman. When my grandparents bought their house it was 1,100 sq. ft. When they moved out it was 1,700 sq. ft. with a 2,000 sq. ft. workshop in the backyard. As a kid, I spent many summers with him in said workshop.

After getting established with doctors in Columbia, I was put on a medication that makes me feel 80% better on most days. Better enough to start enjoying my life again. In a chance encounter at my church’s Easter breakfast, I happened to sit at the same table as a former director of Town Theatre. My previous theatre experience came up, and I was encouraged to audition for Town’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I was interested. I hesitated, though, because although the medication was making me feel better, I had spent the past six years being sedentary. I needed to rebuild my strength and stamina. The choreography of Joseph… was helpful for that. Over time, I got to know Town’s staff and the current director. I guess I had made enough of an impression so that when the new technical director needed an extra hand building The Music Man set, she reached out to me to help.

During my first week working with the technical director, I was horribly rusty.

The skills I had cultivated during those summers with my grandfather had gone unused over the last six years.  As I was getting back into the swing of things, I consistently had the voice of my Grandfather in the back of my head. Every time I turned on the table saw it was his checklist running through my head. He had dyslexia, so he was compulsive about checking measurements, a habit I picked up. Even though the Miter saw has a LASER guide on it, I still used his method of gauging where the cut should be. And a lot of other small things that you only get from gentle mentoring.

The first I thing I helped the technical director with was a huge brick wall. In The Music Man, the brick wall is the exterior of the library where Marian Paroo works. The wall also serves as a tool for scene transition. It is heavy and comes in and out frequently throughout the show. I am also on the crew for The Music Man and the primary operator of the wall. I jokingly requested to the Town director that I be listed under cast in the playbill as “Brick Wall.” She laughed but then offered to let me name it.

After looking back on my time helping with the set building, I realized that there is a little bit of my grandfather in everything I touched on that set. When I took the job offer to help the technical director, I thought of it as a litmus test to see if I could get off of disability and return to full-time work someday. I didn’t think it would help me work through my grandfather’s passing, but that’s exactly what it did. I can’t think of a better moniker for that wall than “Sam.” Besides my fond memories of being in his workshop, the wall represents him in many other ways. Like him, it has presence. As he held two doctorates, he was frequently at a library. The level of craftsmanship and dedication that has been put into not only the wall but this show is something he would appreciate. My involvement with Town Theatre has come at an interesting time in my life. I have rediscovered a part of myself I thought had been lost. Not only am I acting again, but I am also learning to sing and play an instrument. Grandpa was very musical as well. It’s interesting to me that a theatre could act as a form of therapy both physically and mentally.

There are seven more shows that I will be lifting and lowering “Sam.”

When the curtain falls for the final time on The Music Man, a team of dedicated people will dismantle “Sam” and its components will be stored for future use. For me, when I see those brick pieces used on a future set, it will bring back fond memories of building something with my Grandpa all those summers ago. Everyone else will be unknowing bystanders of his talent, skill and mentoring. That is the way of things. We all have our heroes that we learn and grow from. I am fortunate that a piece of my hero will be a part of something that will bring hundreds of people joy.”

Mrs. Paroo Invites YOU!

Upon request of the lovely widow Paroo, the Board of Governors invites you to join us for the opening of our 103rd Season. On opening night, Friday, September 9, we’ll raise a glass to toast the opening of the 103rd Season. As soon as the curtain falls, we invite any ticket holder from opening night to join the cast and crew of The Music Man in the parking lot next to Town. We’ll provide the food, sweet tea and champagne to toast. You’re sure to enjoy some of our favorite restaurants and their delicious goodies.

Thanks to Lizard’s Thicket, Tio’s Mexican Cafe, The University of South Carolina Foundations and Sandra Willis for their support of this event.

From the Director’s chair…

Jamie Harrington

By Jamie Harrington

When I was asked to direct Jekyll and Hyde last year, I was extremely excited to take on such a challenging show. It is a show that has been a part of my theatrical life since I was a child. The first time I remember hearing the music was in 8th grade. My choir teacher had us sing “This Is The Moment” for part of our spring show. All the kids loved it. Then a couple of years later, a friend of mine named David handed me a double cassette tape (I’m old) recording of what I now understand was the concept album of Jekyll and Hyde. He said that he knew that I loved Broadway shows and that I would really like J&H. He wasn’t wrong. I listened to that cassette tape on repeat until it got destroyed on my move to college. Imagine my surprise when I was in college and a few friends of mine and I went to see it on Broadway with the original cast and much of the music was different. I knew the tunes, but the lyrics and songs were different. That’s when I realized that I had fallen in love with the concept album and quickly got the Broadway CD (movin’ on up) to fill in the gaps. I could sing every character’s part. I loved it. There were things staging-wise that I was enthralled with. The red umbrella in “Murder, Murder,” the hair whips in “Confrontation” (until I had a friend do that scene on a college talent show night that made me laugh out loud…I think that was their point. And when I watched the David Hasselhoff version… that’s…something…), the song “His Work And Nothing More,” I could go on and on. I have wanted to create my own take on this show for years. 

Then, I was asked to direct. I knew this show had to have a team that was on top of their game and a cast just as strong.  I was worried about who I would get to play Jekyll/Hyde. That is a beast of a role, no pun intended.  Billy sang the songs effortlessly and over the course of this run has created such a tragic hero. You root for him, become disgusted with him, and then sympathize. He takes us on this roller coaster of emotions. He does it with tireless work that he makes seem easy and you know it is anything but easy. My ladies who auditioned were just as strong. Their schedules were crazy due to being in other shows, getting married, and general conflicts that I decided to double cast. Alex, Ashley, Hannah and Cortlin have truly created these beautifully well-rounded characters that you root for, feel for, and are pained for as the story unfolds. William Bentley as Utterson gives us just a few moments of comic relief but also fights for his dear friend to return from the other side. You believe him and his friendship journey. My Board of Governors has created such well-rounded characters, as well. I love how they make you root for their demise and then you feel “kind of ” bad because you realize that you are rooting for their demise. The cast fills out the ensemble beautifully. They work together to create the pictures on stage that tell the story in the best way possible.

Tracy Steele, my choreographer and dear friend, created moments in the show that I don’t think any J&H show has ever had. “Dangerous Game” is… dangerous. It’s intriguing, sexy and smart. It plays into the previously sung “Someone Like You” with identical beginning sections of choreography, but the intent and execution are completely different to create two totally different dances. And then “Bring On The Men”… the men were brought. Amanda Hines is amazing at her music directions. Like, seriously, I’m in awe of her talents. We have strong singers and she brought out the best in everyone. Janet Kile is costuming this show with her assistant Katie Neff. Come see this show for the costumes alone. The thought that is put into these costumes would surprise you. You know they look good, but the hours of research show. David Swicegood did the wigs and they’re stunning. Elizabeth Oliveira is stage managing this giant pageant with ease. I think it’s because she’s smart and has a great eye for staging and ear for music.  And then there’s me. I got to direct this crazy amazing show. I got to put “His Work and Nothing More” on stage. I got to block “Facade” and “Murder, Murder.” That is a dream come true. For someone who has loved this show almost as long as I have been alive, it has been a glorious run. I don’t know if I have ever worked on a show that felt this “easy.” Everything just fell into place. We took multiple days off in a row. Who does that on a show like this? The cast and crew made it that way. When you’re a kid and you dream of getting to do a show like this, and then you do it and it checks all the boxes for a dream fulfilled, it feels wonderful. I hope you enjoy Jekyll and Hyde as much as I do. 

Midlands Gives 2022

Town Theatre had a banner day through Midlands Gives raising $22,111.25 via the 18-hour give-a-thon sponsored by the Central Carolina Community Foundation. More than $3.7 million was raised supporting 540 nonprofit entities throughout the Midlands area.

Town’s donors were a mix of patrons, Board and staff leadership and performers with $5,500 being provided in match funds.

BIG congrats to the cast of The Red Velvet Cake War who has the bragging rights of being THE LAST CAST STANDING for 2022! Congrats to the casts who met the challenge of having 50% or more of their group give to Town. They will be hosted for a cast reunion in the coming week.

Thank you to all of our Midlands Gives Donors. We are so grateful!

Anonymous
Chelsey Art
Liz Auld
Agnes Babb
Anita T. Baker
The Barnette Agency, LLC
Mary Lynn & Robert Barnette
Allison Bastos
June Bell
Bill Bentley & Alex Carrico
Marybeth  Berry 
Billy Bishop
Crystal Blackwell
Chauntel  Bland
Hans and Lou
Drs. William and Sallie Boggs
Robert Borom
Ann R. Bowles 
Mike & Carol Braddock
Andrea Brown
Bryann K. Burgess
Connor Burney
Blakely CahoonIn honor of Susan Gehlmann
David Campbell
Peter Carnohan
Bonnie ChanceIn honor of my granddaughter, Rosemary Buzzell
Kara Cieri
Emily Clelland
Phil & Stacey CobbIn celebration of Grant Cobb and the children’s theater program
Chip and Cortlin Collins 
Alex Cone
Dawn Cone
Greer Crow
Vickie E. Davis
Jackie DeWitt
Bill DeWitt
George Dinsmore
Phyllis Dixon
Megan Douthitt
Christopher Eargle
Nick Eberhardt
Ruth Ellen
Mike & Kim Epperson
Kim Etcheson
Kimberly FreemanThank you for all you do to bring the arts to life in Columbia!
Alyssa Gamble
Amy Geddes
Ruth Glowacki
Amanda Goins
Felicia GoinsIn memory of Will Moreau 
Faye Goolsby
Christie Gross
Beth Gross
Todd R. Gustafson 
Elisabeth Hammond
Kathy Hartzog 
Elizabeth Helmboldt
Barry and Karin Hill
Amanda Hines and Steve Wrona 
Ellen Hinrichs
Pat Itter
Betsy JacksonIn honor of Nathan Jackson
Nathan Jackson
Regina JanvrinIn honor of the box office staff!
Tiffany Jones
Edward Kester
Elizabeth  Kinney
Cara Koerber
Brigitte Kraushaar
Chris J Kruzner
David LaTorre
Ashley R Leaphart
Keith Marsh
Wydna Martin
Cheryl Martino
Jeni McCaughanIn honor of Lee Martin
Patrick McCormick
David McCree 
Kerry  McGregorFor all the wonderful shows I’ve been a part of. 
Allison  McNeely 
Honey’s Gang
Christy MillsIn memory of Honey
Matthew Mills
Zanna Mills
Thomas Monahan
June E Nemetz
Norene Family
Robin NorrisHonoring TJ Leitzsey 
Toby O’Connor
Kristy O’Keefe
Brenda OwensIn honor of Josie “Kat” Sanders
Craig Parks
Lara Popovich
Caroline Powell
Karen Quinn
Kristen Randall
Kerri Roberts
Chelsea Rudisill & Luke Browder
Gabe and Donna Saleeby
Gina, Robin and Grayson Saviola 
Jennifer Scott
Shannon Scruggs
Kendall Scruggs
Thomas  Scruggs 
Rebecca and Michael Seezen
Jack Seezen
Kathryn Seppamaki
Donald and Alicia Shealy
Toni Sheridan
The Cason Group
Julie Songer BelmanIn loving memory of Don Songer
Diana W Stevenson
Kerry Stubbs
Hannah Thompson
John Tighe
Leah Tudor
Stacy Veldman
Megan Walker
Hollis & Nancy Walker
Virginia Walker
Lauren Way
Bailey Weikel-FeekesIn honor of the wonderful cast in Bright Star and Jekyll & Hyde
Carl and Nancy White
Elizabeth & Robert WilliamsIn memory of Anna Williams
Love,
Elizabeth & Robert Williams
Robert & Penn Williams 
Robert E Williams Jr
Michael Willis
Willis Tax & Accounting
Sandra Willis
Christine Wilson
Sadie Wiskes
Cathy Wiskes
Janice and David Yensan

Music, Mayhem, Madness and Mmmmmm…

Saturdays, May 14 & 21

It certainly is a part of our DNA to host dessert nights at Town ~ no scientific experiment necessary. Jekyll & Hyde gives us the perfect opportunity to mix up some of our favorite desserts for your enjoyment!

Get your tickets to the show on Saturday, May 14 OR Saturday, May 21 and we’ll add some mouth-watering munchies to this evening of melodious mayhem. All you have to do is go out to eat ~ and then bring us the receipt.

No deception here ~ your dinner receipt in exchange for dessert which will be provided on the patio before the show. Dessert will be served from 6:45 PM to 7:15 PM.

So, on Saturday, May 14 and/or 21, go #DineAroundTown, bring us the bill and enjoy dessert on the patio! Receipts must be dated March 14 or 21 with a time stamp of 4 PM or later. Don’t worry ~ if you run out of time to grab dinner, we’ll still serve you dessert. Your choice of one dessert for $4. Water, soft drinks, beer and wine will also be available for purchase.

Homemade desserts selections may include death by chocolate, lethal lemon and/or coconut crime. Come join us to see which desserts will show their true face.

Hiring: Technical Director Assistant Position

Town Theatre is seeking a Technical Director Assistant. The ideal candidate will have a working knowledge of all aspects of technical theatre including set design, construction, lighting and sound. Town Theatre is in the middle of its 102nd season of operation with a heavy emphasis on musicals. Generally, the theatre produces five main stage shows during the season (September to May), a large summer main stage musical, two to three youth theatre productions as well as various special event shows. The theatre itself is a proscenium stage theatre with a fly system. Sets are built onsite in a workshop and on the stage. Town Theatre values the ability of all staff to work in and promote a harmonious work environment.

Candidates should:

  • Be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license
  • Have a high school degree or a GED equivalent
  • Have a basic theatre knowledge of how productions are put together and run
  • Showcase an ability to effectively work with and support volunteers
  • Show the desire and ability to work collaboratively and cordially with fellow staff, stage managers, directors and volunteers
  • Be able to meet deadlines with quality results
  • Have a flexible schedule that will vary depending on the life cycle of each show

Preferred skills include, but are not limited to carpentry, overhead rigging, stage electrics, scenic painting and sound/audio tech experience.  

Basic duties of the position will include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting the Technical Director with the building, rigging, props, painting of scenery, lighting and any audio needs for the productions
  • Assisting in the maintenance of equipment in the scene shop, light booth and sound booth
  • Keeping up with the props, organization of the props room and basement storage
  • Working offsite at the warehouse to pull and maintain stored scenery
  • Staffing the actual productions as the on-site technician when needed
  • Working in the attic over the auditorium as well as on the grid over the stage as needed
  • Assisting with the maintenance needs of the general facility

Ideally, this hire will be a full-time position with weekday hours during the show build and evening hours during the run of the show, shared by the theatre’s Technical Director. However, the position may be split depending on the candidates. To apply, please send a cover letter, résumé, visual examples of scenic design work and three references with current contact information. Packages may be sent electronically to Shannon Willis Scruggs, Executive Director, at shannon@towntheatre.com.

Posted Dec. 7, 2021