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The Silver Lining: My 30-Something Perspective

Guest blog by Tassie Collins

What makes an analytical 30-something want to audition for musical theatre for the first time?

Spamalot is a wonderful show!  Here’s one of many favorite lines: “When life seems jolly rotten, there’s something you’ve forgotten.  And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.”  Who doesn’t want to laugh and smile and dance and sing?  That is what this show is all about! Deciding to do it in front of an audience only took me 32 years.

You might be surprised to learn that I am not the only one involved in the making of Spamalot that has a rather logical, analytical day job.  I learned that Lou, our musical director, is a MATH teacher by day.  Maybe that doesn’t surprise you, but it did me.  I was told she was a teacher and I thought: “Oh, maybe she teaches drama, literature or creative writing.” I didn’t think about math.

I am a school psychologist.  I enjoy working with people, including the little ones.  My job is largely assessments and a sort of detective work where I collect data from many places, put it all together and try to diagnose academic, emotional or behavioral problems’ origins. Then figure out what interventions might work best in helping a particular child overcome or cope with those diagnoses.

So what makes an analytical person do theatre?  What makes an analytical 30-something want to audition for musical theatre for the first time?  The short answer is an awesome show and a couple of inspirational people.  Although, several things happened over the last ten years that led up to this decision.

I have my analytical side but I have always loved music and singing and dancing too.   In my 20s I began seeing Broadway musicals; first in Atlanta and Charlotte and then in NYC. During my first visit to NYC I saw four Broadway musicals including Spamalot. It is a happy, silly, funny show.  I loved that it made fun of everything including itself. I bought the music before I left Shubert Theatre.

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One of Tassie’s inspirations

I also started teaching aerobics classes in my twenties, which included Zumba: a Latin-dance inspired cardio class. These helped me feel comfortable in front of people and dancing in front of strangers. In the past three years, I’ve visited NYC for a few long weekends to binge on Broadway musicals.  I managed to get my 7-year-old niece, Kenslie, excited about theater too.  She made her acting debut at 5 at the Columbia Children’s Theatre in Aladdin.  I was quite a proud Auntie.

Tassie poses with another motivator ~ friend and colleague, Jon

Right after Kenslie’s performance, I started working at a new school where I met a very special guidance counselor whose not-so-secret passion was theatre.  He and I were fast friends and loved talking about shows and actresses and life.  We laughed and smiled together often.  Sometimes one would break into song and the other would join right in.  He wasn’t well so he was not involved in any shows then.  Our friendship was only a little over a year old when he passed away.  In my grief and confusion I thought of all the things we’d planned to do together and never had the chance.  Among them, I was sad that I never saw him perform and that I never had an opportunity to play alongside him.  How much I would’ve loved to be a part of a show that included him. Nothing negative occurs without some silver lining.  Out of my regret came a desire for a new adventure and a desire to be with other people like him, like me, who love to laugh and smile and dance and sing.  When I saw that Town Theatre was putting on Monty Python’s Spamalot, I knew it was the right show for my first audition.

My friend died in September, the very start of this school year.  Working in his school without him there has been difficult and sad.  Spamalot has given me such a wonderful opportunity to smile and laugh and sing and dance; to honor the memory of my warm-hearted, beautiful, sweet, lovely, talented, compassionate, loyal, dedicated, wonderful friend; to be in his beloved theatre with his friends and for a few hours a day forget the sad things and the hard things life sometimes hands us.  A great musical, a 7-year-old girl and Jon Taylor drove out my fear of singing in public and inspired this 30-something to embark on a new adventure.

Knocking One off of the Bucket List

Collins as Patsy
Chip Collins as Patsy; Photo by David Barber

Guest blog by Chip Collins

In the spring of 1987, I was a gangly, slightly nerdy, high school junior trying to figure out, as all teens are at that age, who exactly I was.  Many of my friends at that time were seniors, and one Friday night, as we had just had a great previous weekend in Charleston at the State Math Team competition (OK, maybe more than slightly nerdy…) many of them came over to my house just to hang out and watch a movie.  One of my friends was tasked with bringing the movie.

He brought “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

Life.  Changed.

From the beginning credits, without a word even having been spoken at that point, I knew that I had found my place.  My sense of humor, which had always seemed different and, to a degree, more advanced than those of my peers, was validated.  I was, at the same time, both laughing hilariously and becoming fascinated at the high level of intelligent humor that came from this movie.

That missing piece of self-confidence fell into place without even realizing it.

The movie even became one of the first things that helped me work on dialects and imitations, even as exaggerated as they may have been, which have helped me all of these years later during my 15+ years on Columbia stages.

So, when I first learned that it was being made into a musical, I became giddy.  And then, learning the identity of the leads (Tim Curry, David Hyde Pierce, Hank Azaria to be specific), I became downright excited.  When the soundtrack was released I obtained it immediately and began playing it nonstop.  So much so that, my then-four-year-old daughter Victoria would start skipping down the hall to her preschool class singing, “I am not yet dead…”

Yes, I received some strange looks.  But, man, was I a proud dad.

Unfortunately, I was never able to make it up to New York to see the production, but I always knew that if the show ever came to Columbia, I would be auditioning.  Whereas, to many people, Les Misérables is their ultimate “bucket list” show to perform in, Spamalot is mine.  And here I am, in the midst of rehearsing with an incredibly talented and funny cast.

And not only that, I get to sing the most recognizable song in the show.  How awesome is that?

Midlands Gives at Town


What is better than giving? Nothing! And, it is even better to give as a part of our community’s local giving day — Midlands Gives — Tuesday, May 5!

Town Theatre is not your traditional fundraising non-profit that seeks donor support throughout the year. But, after participating in last year’s effort, we are super excited to have the chance to do it again!

All contributions for Town Theatre will go directly to the theatre. So, on May 5, we ask that you:

1) Log on to and
2) Make a donation using your credit or debit card (a $20 minimum).

And, if you give to Town, we will give back to you!

  • For every $25 gift – a voucher for 2 free concession items
  • For $250 – VIP seating for the 97th season
  • A $500 gift allows you to name one of our new patio seats in your honor or in the honor of a person of your choosing
  • For $1,000 – a reserved parking space for each show of the 97th season (that may be the best deal in “Town”!)

Be sure to show your support for Town Theatre on Tuesday, May 5 for the second annual MIDLANDS GIVES event!

Midlands Gives slider

#pureimagination… with Kimberly Hubbard

We were thrilled to hear from Kimberly Hubbard who is playing the role of Grandpa Joe in this weekend’s upcoming production of Willy Wonka Kids. Check out what she has to say.

hubbard“Hello! I’m Kimberly Hubbard. I’m excited to be playing Grandpa Joe in one of the casts of Willy Wonka Kids. For those of you not familiar with the story, Grandpa Joe accompanies Charlie on Willy Wonka’s factory tour – a tour that is filled with quirky turns and… a surprise ending!

Grandpa Joe has been a fun character for me, because not only does he get wheeled on stage while sitting in the bed with the other grandparents, he sings, dances, and flies in the air.

Throughout these last 10 weeks, the two casts of Willy Wonka Kids have learned lines, blocking, songs and dances. We are now in the final week of rehearsals which is one of the most exciting times for me. We get to wear our costumes, see the sets and go through our final runs of the show before showtime.

As always, Jamie Carr Harrington, our director, has done an amazing job of directing and choreographing our show. Now she and her staff are putting the final pieces together to make it a wonderful experience for the kids and an entertaining show for the audiences. I’m sure it will be fantastic.”


logo_200x200_000326Grab your tickets to see Kimberly and the other amazing kids in Willy Wonka Kids. Shows are Friday at 7; Saturday at 3 and 7 and Sunday at 3! Call 799-2510 to join us!


Kimberly Hubbard first performed at Town Theatre in 2010 as Orphan Kate in Annie.  Since then she has performed in regular season shows, summer shows, and the youth program at Town. Her past favorite youth program roles include Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty Kids), Fagin (Oliver Twist), and Drizella (Cinderella Kids). Last summer Kimberly completed SC Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities’ Discovery Program (Drama) and will participate this year in SCGSAH’s Academy program.

#pureimagination with Anna Grace & Matthew Boney

It’s time for some #pureimagination with our Youth Theatre production of Willy Wonka Kids! Two of our performers — twins Anna Grace and Matthew Boney — took some time to share their thoughts about performing in this show. Take a look!

“Hello!  My name is Anna Grace Boney. I’m currently involved in theAnna Grace Youth Theatre production of “Willy Wonka Kids” at Town Theatre and I want to share a bit of my experience with you.  It has been a special experience being a part of theater here at Town. The director of the shows, Jamie Harrington, is awesome. She is so welcoming, has an amazing amount of talent, and is very skilled in choreography and vocals.  “Willy Wonka” is the third Youth Theatre production I have done at Town, and with each show I develop a deeper love for theatre. I truly believe theatre is an amazing opportunity for anyone — even if you have never done a show. Ms. Jamie makes you feel welcome and I think everyone should have a chance to experience doing a youth theatre production.

My brother Matthew got me into theater after I went to see him in his first main stage production at Town, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. As I watched the show, I realize I wanted to be up on that stage performing, too. If you have always wanted to do theater, or if you just want to do a show with an awesome director, I suggest the Town Youth Theatre program!”

And speaking of brother Matthew — here are a few words from him!

MatthewI am so glad that I get to have the wonderful enjoyment participating in the Youth Theatre performances at Town Theatre. The director, Jamie Carr Harrington, is extremely patient and kind I have enjoyed working with her. I revel in the rehearsals leading up to the show and being able to talk to other kids with the same interests that I have. This is my third Youth Theatre performance I have done and so far I have enjoyed every bit of each one. The Willy Wonka rehearsals have been hard the last couple days with both casts gathered at the same rehearsal, but as each rehearsal ends, the show draws closer, and you feel the excitement in the air.  You just know that we will pull the show together and we hope that we will have a great show for all the audiences!”

logo_200x200_000326Come see these great kids — and many more — in Willy Wonka Kids. Shows are Friday at 7; Saturday at 3 and 7 and Sunday at 3!


Time for Summer… camp that is!

Come play with us this summer!

It’s time to sign up for Town’s Fabulous Summer Camps!

Click below for an application or call 803-799-2510 to register.

2015 Application

Youth Camps (ages 5 – 8)
9 am to 12 pm Monday through Friday

June 8-12
: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Perform in a production of Snow White. Learn the basics of theatre character development. Play theatre games that build technique while reinforcing stage presence.  A showcase of skills will be performed at the end of the week.

June 15-19: Broadway or Bust!  If your child always seems to be “on stage” even when a stage is nowhere to be found, then they’ll love singing and dancing at Town. Examine the elements of creating a performance on stage, including voice, stage movement, and character development. Perform a mini production on stage.

       CindJune 22-26: If the Shoe Fits –Perform in a production of Cinderella. Learn the basics of theatre character development. Play theatre games that build technique while reinforcing stage presence. A showcase of skills will be performed at the end of the week.

JWebuly 6-10:  Charlotte’s Web – Put on a mini production of Charlotte’s Web. Have fun learning theatrical techniques to become a better performer. Play theatre games and explore the original story of this delightful play. A final production will be presented at the end of the week!

JB and wuly 13-17:  Let ’em Sing,  Let ’em Dance – Perform in a production of a musical theatre classic. Learn the basics of theatre character development. Play theatre games that build technique while reinforcing stage presence. Learn beginner dance techniques like jazz squares, grapevines, and other popular musical theatre dance techniques. A showcase of skills will be performed at the end of the week.

poppinsJuly 20-24: Supercalifragilistic Intro to Musical Theatre. Have fun singing songs from the Broadway musical Mary Poppins and getting to perform scenes from the show. Learn basic acting techniques and put on a showcase at end of the week.

Pre-teen/Teen Youth Camps
Camps for ages 9 – 17: 1:30 to 4:30
Monday through Friday


starJune 8-12: Stardust (Basic Acting) This is a beginner course in acting. Learn how to audition; examine the elements of creating a performance on stage, and character development. No prior acting experience required, but those with some experience will feel comfortable in the class as well. A showcase of skills will be performed at the end of the week.

star bornJune 15-19: A Star is Born (Advanced Acting)  This camp is for kids who’ve taken some acting classes and feel ready to take on more advanced acting techniques. A showcase of skills will be performed at the end of the week.

zombieJune 22-26: Become a Zombie or a Fairy Princess Makeup Extravaganza!  Learn makeup techniques to become a zombie one day, a witch the next, an old person and other famous theatrical makeup styles.  We will not use latex so no worries about latex allergies. There will be a $10 makeup fee for each student on top of the usual $150 camp fee. A showcase of skills will be presented at the end of the week.

Jbackstageuly 6-10 – 1:30: Mary Poppins Back Stage Pass – Help create props and paint part of this unbelievably fun show.  Class is limited to 5 students so sign up early if you have the desire to help make Mary Poppins come to life.

masksJuly 13-17Stardust Too! – This is a beginner course in acting. Learn how to audition; examine the elements of creating a performance on stage, and character development. No prior acting experience required, but those with some experience will feel comfortable in the class as well. A showcase of skills will be performed at the end of the week.


July 20-24: Practically Perfect in Every Way Musical Theatre Intensive. Have fun singing songs from the Broadway musical Mary Poppins and getting to perform scenes from the show. Learn basic acting techniques and put on a showcase at the end of the week

Each camp is $150. The Become a Zombie or a Fairy Princess Makeup Extravaganza class has an extra $10 per student make up fee. A $100 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot in each class.


PLUS – Camp Tap Tap Tap Away!

Christy Shealy Mills and Zanna Mills will teach 30 minute tap classes from noon – 12:30 for younger students ages 5-8 and from 1:00 – 1:30 for those 9 – 17. The classes are $40 for the five day session and a showcase will be held each Friday in conjunction with the acting camp showcases. *

Click above for application or call 803-799-2510 to register by phone.

Sponsorship provided by Colonial Life

*It is not necessary to participate in a drama camp in order to take Camp Tap Tap Tap Away.

Becoming Marilyn – An Inside Look!

Photography by Singing Fox Creative

We sat down with Abigail Smith Ludwig — one of the stars of Sugar (Some Like it Hot) to hear what she had to say about becoming Marilyn.

Q: What is your history with this production — did you watch it as a child? 

A: Actually, I wasn’t even aware that there was a musical version of this movie until a few years ago. I sort of remember seeing the movie as a child, but it wasn’t until I was older that I fell in love with it. Being able to play this role is just so amazing to me. I have wanted to “be Marilyn” for as long as I can remember and to get to perform alongside my dear friends makes it even more special.

Q: Do you feel that you connect with Marilyn on any levels? 

A: Yes, definitely. My grandmother, who looks just like her, always loved her too so I started loving Marilyn at a young age. I just always felt a connection to her…. like I knew her or something. I’ve read a lot about her and, overall, I think she just wanted to be loved. She had a big heart and loved everyone around her. I think I’m a lot like her in those ways, but she definitely had a very lonely side to her which I do not.

Photography by Singing Fox Creative

Q: What is the most challenging part about your transformation from Abigail to Marilyn? Makeup? Personality traits?

A: Honestly, this has probably been the easiest transformation for me. I see her face everyday – I have a Marilyn room – and so the look is easy for me to create. I really do feel like we are so much alike when it comes to personality. I recently watched the movie again and it was so interesting to see that we both almost had exactly the same reactions in scenes. I thought that was so interesting and neat. Probably the most challenging thing is trying to talk like her. She always had that high whisper baby type voice and I have the complete opposite of that.

Q: Do you love the beauty mark?

A: Yes! I love it! I have a very small beauty mark under my lip and I used to call it my “Marilyn.” I didn’t realize hers wasn’t real until later in life. She used to move it around and I thought that was so cool. Maybe I’ll get one and have fun with it too! Ha ha!

Q: As a makeup artist, do you feel that you have higher expectations of yourself as far as pre-show prep goes?

A: Yes. I’m kind of a perfectionist and so I have always tried to make myself look like my character as best as I can. It’s fun for me though.

Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?

A: Not anything major. I have some pictures of Marilyn on my dressing room table. I like to look at her so I can do my best to perfect my look. Sort of a motivation I guess. Everything just falls into place as soon as I put on my red lipstick and pin my wig into place.

Photography by Singing Fox Creative
Photography by Singing Fox Creative

Some Sugar with your Sugar?

combo 2You don’t want to miss out Town’s own (and first ever!) food truck round up on Fri. and Sat., March 6 & 7. Pulling up in our lot before curtain will be Poultry in Motion and The Donut Guy.

For your main course, try freshly prepared fried or grilled chicken (Poultry in Motion’s specialty)! Or, you can always opt for one of their other items — wings, hand cut/breaded tenders, pulled chicken sandwiches, queso chicken fries and nachos. Hey — if you are watching the scale (though we think this should be an exception!) you can grab a salad. Drinks will be available and menu prices range from $5 to $7.

And for desert… The Donut Guy features SUGAR (how appropriate) in the form of mini-donuts. Grab yourself a small portion (13-14 donuts) for $4 or go for the gold and get a large portion for $7. But these are just not any donuts — these babies can be topped with some delicious and decadent temptations.

Both of these food trucks are members of the Palmetto Puddin’ Train, working out of the 302 Artisans space on Senate Street. Special thanks to Louis Smith for coordinating this event.

Details in a nutshell:

Who: Poultry in Motion & The Donut Guy – need we say more?

What: Dinner Theatre (Really? At the theatre? Oh, yes!)

When: Fri. March 6 and Sat., March 7 from 6 to 8 pm

Where: Town Theatre @ 1012 Sumter

Why: Why not?

Make your reservations for the show for March 6 or 7 and join us for some food and fun! Call 799-2510! Box office currently open to all members and to the general public on Monday, March 2 @ 12 noon!

Meet Chadwick Pressley

We sat down this week to interview actor Chadwick Pressley (Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy) to get a better look at his personal experiences backstage and onstage. Many people know the story line of Driving Miss Daisy from the movie – an African American chauffeur is hired to help Daisy Werthan, a 73-year old white Jewish widow in a time when there is an abundance of racial barriers and prejudices. The stage production of this story allows the audience to focus on the trials that Daisy and Hoke face through their nontraditional friendship. Let’s see what Chadwick had to say!

Q: What is your theatrical background?                                                            

A: I’ve done several shows – Be a Lion – a brand new production out of Charlotte, NC and Five Guys Named Moe at Workshop Theatre to name a few. I really enjoyed playing the lion in Be A Lion because it gave me a chance to play an animal, act, sing and dance.

Q: In Driving Miss Daisy you play a character that faces many challenges. Do you find that the challenges he faces ring true in your real world?                                                                                                                  

A: No, not my world but I’ve heard about racial barriers from my grandparents, so I can relate to the story through their eyes. They told me that you have to get an education in order to make it in this world. They also imparted that you need to do your best in everything that you do.

Q: What is your favorite line or moment from the show?                    

A: When Hoke says to Mr. Werthan, “”Keep them ashes off my upholstery.”

Q: Have there been any great learning experiences?                            

A: I have learned so much about stage acting, projecting and secrets to learning lines. Take your script with you everywhere you go and constantly have your friends and family going over lines with you. Write your parts down and that will help set it to memory

Q: What have been your greatest challenges through this process?

A: Working with such a small cast and having to learn a lot of script, with a broken English dialect/southern drawl. The broken English was the dialect of most African Americans during that time and they had no formal education. With Hoke being an illiterate man, he spoke in a way that reflects a more carefree and no-nonsense type of language.