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.
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.
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.
The time has FINALLY arrived where we can (with a little more accuracy) share our plans for the Spring and Summer. We appreciate your patience as we have worked to stay open during the last year. We were fortunate to be able to finish Mary Poppins and Mary Poppins Jr. with limited capacities back in November 2020. We also have been able to serve as the second home to several local dance schools that were not able to complete previously planned performances. (Don’t worry – all COVID guidelines were followed and we were happy that so many students could “finish what they started.”)
As we look toward the Spring and Summer, we are cautiously optimistic about our opportunities to return to the stage. Though we now fully know that COVID could force us to change our plans without notice, we will move forward working according to CDC guidelines for the safety of our patrons, staff and volunteers. We hoped to complete the season with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, however, that just is not in the cards. More than a year has passed since that cast first came together. Since then, many have had schedule changes making a return impossible. While we pondered re-auditioning and re-casting, it became clear that bringing this show to the stage needed to be postponed. We intend to do this show in the future – perhaps in a subsequent season. It just was not meant to be for the 101st.
We are committed to offering TWO opportunities to conclude the 101st season. Limited Exposure – a Broadway Cabaret will run April 16-18. Audiences will enjoy Kerri Roberts, Billy Bishop, Sheldon Paschal, Scott Vaughan, Kathy Seppamaki, Clayton King, Hannah Thompson, Lanny Spires, Cortlin & Chip Collins, Heather Hinson, Virginia Walker, Kathy Hartzog and Bill DeWitt. We are grateful to Michael Simmons (creator of Home for the Holidays and Broadway Under the Covers) for sharing his amazing talent for writing shows that bring some of our favorite songs and performers together. Members can get tickets starting Wednesday, March 17 at 12 noon. Non-members can get tickets beginning Monday, April 12 at 12 noon. There will be a streaming option for this show which you can also access with your member ticket or a paid cash ticket. ALL THREE of the cabaret performances will have a limited capacity with distanced seating.
A second option for members will be to use your tickets to Always… Patsy Cline. This show first came to the Town Theatre in August 2000 and we always hear, “When are you bringing the gals back?” This COVID intermission makes it possible for Kathy Hartzog and Shannon Scruggs aka Louise and Patsy to “tool” across the stage backed by the Bodacious Bobcats. You do not want to miss this show which will run April 23-25 and April 29-May 2. Members can get tickets starting Monday, April 12 at 12 noon. Non-members can get tickets beginning Monday, April 19 at 12 noon. Streaming is not currently an option for Always…Patsy Cline. We are considering a combination of limited capacity with distanced seating shows and some regular capacity shows. As we continue to watch COVID numbers, these decisions will be made and communicated.
Limited Exposure and Always…Patsy Cline will conclude the 101st and will be the final opportunities for members to utilize tickets for this season.
In May, our youth theatre programs will take over the stage with several offerings including The Lion King Jr., Disney’s Jungle Book KIDS by our Town Tweens, and a production by our Town Teen Troupe. By July, we hope to be back in the swing of things with the summer spectacular, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Check out audition details here. If all of the above goes to plan, we’ll move into the 102nd season – just one year later!
If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to respond quickly. That being said, we are still very thinly staffed so please bear with us. We all know that plans are better when they are flexible so do keep that in mind. However, the simple fact remains that we have missed you and cannot WAIT to see you at the theatre.
We’re excited to have some new cast members joining us for the re-boot of Mary Poppins! New to the stage for the October/November 2020 production:
Billy Bishop (Park Keeper/Bank Chair) was a part of the original Poppins team as the costumer. However, he is happy to be on stage this go-round and is thrilled to be playing the role of a lifetime: that of Hans Boeschen.
Corey Langley (Northbrook) is pleased
to play the role of Northbrook in Town’s production of Mary Poppins. “It’s
been awhile since we’ve all been back in the theatre. Thank you to those who
continue to support us.”
Christy Shealy Mills (Bird Woman) is
delighted to resurrect the bird woman from Mary Poppins 2015. When
she isn’t feeding the birds, she enjoys teaching dance to students at Town
Theatre, and other branches of SC Music and Dance Academy. Thanks to
Shannon for this opportunity and to Honey for supporting her theatre addiction.
Kendall Scruggs (Lead Sweep) is happy
to be a part of the Poppins re-boot after appearing in the 2015
production. Other Town shows include Willy Wonka, Beauty and the Beast,
Joseph…, Tarzan and Peter Pan. Kendall enjoys spending time with
friends, Camp Greenville and is a dancer at Columbia Ballet School.
Hannah Thompson (Mrs. Banks) is thrilled to be joining the returning cast
of Mary Poppins. Hannah appeared most recently in Town’s production of Into
the Woods as The Baker’s Wife. Before joining the Town community, Hannah
received a degree in Music Education from Belmont University and a Master
degree in Voice Performance from The University of South Carolina. Hannah also
spends her time at Town co-directing the Town Tween Troupe and teaching voice
First, we hope that everyone is doing well. We have missed “doing our thing” so much. It has been a long six-plus months since we have held a production in our space. However, we now have the “go ahead” from the state to operate at a reduced capacity. So, to keep Town Theatre alive and operating for the next 100 years, we are moving forward. Visit our Mary Poppins page for details!
Please take a minute to read this information carefully. We think you will be pleased to know some of the precautions that we have taken to operate safely.
We have air purification systems in the house, in the Moreau Youth Theatre Wing as well as the dressing rooms that use needlepoint bipolar ionization (NPBI) technology to deliver clean indoor air.
We now have a ULV Cold Fogger and HOCl maker – allowing Town to generate and distribute disinfectant on site. The Town auditorium can be cleaned in 15 minutes. We will also fog props, the set, backstage, dressing rooms and rehearsal hall spaces. (Think Ghostbusters for the musical theatre world.)
Seating capacity will be greatly reduced with distancing between units. There will be two vacant seats separating each party, one vacant seat in front of you as well as one vacant seat behind you. Our ticketing system automatically will generate this separation. The first two rows will not be available. If you need the wheelchair seat, please let us know.
We intend to use several doors for entry and exit. After you have made your reservation, you will hear from the theatre about your entry and exit point.
Per the City of Columbia and the Accelerate SC guidelines, masks will be worn by the audience while on-site, including during the performance.
Actors will be spaced on stage and will be wearing masks while backstage and in common areas.
First – THANK
YOU. Thanks for hanging in there with us as we continue to navigate the
unknown. Of course, we have more questions than answers it seems, but we have
been fortunate in so many ways. I wanted to update you on a few things with the
information that I have available to me.
Midlands Gives Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 5, is Midlands Gives. This is a community-wide day
of giving. We know that everyone is in a different place right now, but we
think it is important to seek support for the theatre from those who are able.
We will host our “$20 for Town” campaign again inviting you to make a $20 gift
through the Midlands Gives platform. Click here to make your gift.We received word
on Friday that that we will receive a match of up to $3,000 from The Cheerful
Giver – an anonymous donor. We feel
so fortunate! (And if you so inclined and able to make a gift larger than $20,
of course we would appreciate that too!)
Please know that this ask does not come without understanding
of what a rough time this is for everyone. We sincerely want to find
the balance between the tough situations that everyone is facing and making
sure we can open the doors at 1012 Sumter Street after the pandemic is behind
us. If this is not the right time for you to receive this request, no pressure
at all. We simply present it as an opportunity.
The “State” of Town Theatre
So far, Town Theatre
is hanging in there! The quarantine has created job loss and a great deal of
financial instability for so many. Our heart aches for everyone who has faced a
loss of any magnitude. Town went from a time of incredibly strong ticket sales
in an amazing season of shows to an immediate halt. The theatre was fortunate
to receive a PPP loan which is allowing us to retain our staff and not face
layoffs at the moment.
Our job duties and
descriptions have altered just a bit, but everyone is working as best they can.
We are grateful for the time to tackle some of those “to do” list items that
never seem to get done. We are hopeful that our Midlands Gives event will be
fruitful and that we will be able to generate some revenue from virtual camps.
We’re counting on the return of our shows and in-person camp activities.
But we have no
crystal ball, so we are moving forward with great care and caution – doing our
best to make decisions on a rolling basis. We continue to communicate with
theatres and arts organizations locally and across the country to understand
their best practices upon a return to the theatre. We constantly seek and apply
for any relief funds that might be available to non-profits. We gently
fundraise because we want to find the balance between the tough situations that
everyone is facing and our own goal to stay in business.
Season It is still our intention to complete our 101st season including
our run of Mary Poppins and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. We
must have details on what we can do, when we can do it as well as guidance on
appropriate social distancing before any of those decisions can be set in
stone. When they are – we promise to share our plans with you. As a reminder,
if you had already made reservations for Mary Poppins, you will have the
first opportunity to re-reserve your tickets for our new slate of performance
dates. Once an appropriate amount of time has passed, we will open ticketing
for others. We continue to appreciate your patience as we wait until that time
to communicate about ticketing.
We are continuing
our virtual youth theatre classes through May. In another month we believe we
will have more information about how we can continue to serve our 150 students.
Just like with the 101st main stage shows, it is still our intention
to allow the students to perform when possible. We know that it won’t be
exactly the same as we originally planned, but we will deal with that when
details are provided from our state and local officials.
Summer Camps Next week, we will outline summer camps for the first few weeks in June. These
will be planned as virtual offerings with small groups of students. Classes
will be held via Zoom and will vary in topic. This is a first for us and we
welcome the opportunity to deliver arts education in a new way. If we need to
continue to roll out virtual camps for a longer time frame, we will do so.
We appreciate your
support as we all make this journey together.
Shannon Willis Scruggs Executive Director Town Theatre
Hello Town Theatre families, patrons, members ticket purchasers, volunteers and more!
It has been three weeks since we all had an abrupt change of pace. At the time, we had more questions than answers and while we still have some questions, we do have a little more clarity on how we will proceed. We also thought you might have an interest in reading about what we have been doing to keep things going as best we can.
The shows MUST go on! We are very excited to let you know that we do intend to complete our 101st
season including our run of Mary Poppins and A Gentleman’s Guide to
Love and Murder. When? Well, that is the million-dollar question it seems.
But, once we can be together again safely, we will determine dates for these
performances and will communicate with you about ticketing times. If you had
already made reservations for Mary Poppins, you will have the first
opportunity to re-reserve your tickets for our new slate of performance dates. Once
an appropriate amount of time has passed, we will open ticketing for others. We
appreciate your patience as we must wait until that time to communicate about
Youth Theatre Our youth theatre classes were
running full speed ahead when we were interrupted. Weekly classes for Mary
Poppins Jr., Give and Take as well as Guys & Dolls Jr. came to an
immediate halt. However, just as with our main stage shows, we are committed to
holding these productions. Once dates and times are known, we will communicate with
you about ticketing.
During this time of
being at home, our youth theatre students have remained engaged. We have held rehearsals
for small groups on Zoom and have provided weekly activities for our students
including costume design challenges, dialect exercises and even props building activities.
Members of our Town Teen Troupe created a COVID Containment Entertainment concert
series which you can view on our YouTube
channel. Stay tuned as we hope to share more while we go through this
Summer Camps We do intend to host camps once again this summer! We are holding off on enrollment until we have more confidence on what the end of the school year looks like for our students. Our list of camps as originally planned can be seen here. We are also considering several options with adjustable dates and will share those at the appropriate time. And we are developing a “May Minis” Series of lessons and classes that we will roll out when needed.
Town Theatre Staff Town staff has committed to using this down time to grow. We’re working on some of those projects that have been on our “to do” lists. Technical Director Danny Harrington has created a fun demonstration on how to create a stage model for set design. Check it out! He is also working on set designs for the 102nd season so that we can “make up for lost time” once the quarantine is over. Assistant Technical Director Corey Langley was able to spend some time reorganizing areas of the theatre and our warehouse. He is also currently creating a scenic painting series to share with our students. Youth Theatre Director Megan Douthitt has become well versed in shifting in-person rehearsals and classes to online opportunities. Executive Director Shannon Scruggs has been exploring the ever-changing opportunities for funding in a time of little revenue as well as working with staff, licensing companies, casts and youth theatre families to keep the wheels on the bus turning.
What Can You Do Now? Many of you have reached out asking how you might help. We would truly appreciate your continued support of our theatre during this challenging time. One easy way to do that is to purchase your 102nd Season Membership at the early bird rate. You can do that online here.
Once we have
ticketing dates for the rest of our current season and all our youth theatre
shows, be sure to get your ticket and bring a friend. Live theatre can and will
be such a great part of our restoration process.
If you are able and so inclined, we would appreciate your support as a donor. We were so very fortunate to renovate two of the three areas of our theatre before this crisis hit AND we did so without adding any debt. If you still have a portion of your pledge outstanding, are you able to make an early or an extra payment? Or, if you never got around to joining us as a donor and the time is right for you, we would welcome your support. You can mail your check to the theatre or make a gift online at this link. We do plan to participate in the community-wide Midlands Gives on May 5 with our popular “Give Town a Twenty” campaign.
We hope that you and
your family are safe and well. Though this was certainly not a part of our
plan, we will make the very best of it and, more than ever, are excited to see
you at the theatre as soon as we possibly can. In the interim, if you have questions,
please reach out to Shannon Scruggs at email@example.com.
Meet Ruth Glowacki ~ our Giant. Having never been considered tall, or even medium height, it is happy irony to be giving voice to The Giant! Some favorite performances include The Soothsayer in Julius Caesar, Hannah in Newsies, Lt. Shrank and Glad Hand in West Side Story, Beline in The Imaginary Invalid, a gargoyle & the madam in Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gym Teacher & Prison Guard in Hairspray, Mrs. Bennett in Pride & Prejudice, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mrs. Parker in A Christmas Story, Lady Montague in Romeo and Juliet, Mrs. Lambchop in Flat Stanley and Actress One in The Dining Room.
Meet Debi Young ~ Cinderella’s Mother/Granny. This production of Into the Woods marks Debi’s 55th community theatre production. Ironically, she played “Little Red’s Granny” in Workshop Theatre’s 1995 production. Debi is a retired public-school music educator and currently teaches private voice and piano at On Stage Productions in Lexington, SC. In addition to being passionate about all things theatre, she is also passionate about cats, reading, and staying active. Thanks to everyone involved in the show!!!
Meet Erin Godfrey ~ Cinderella. Erin is thrilled to have the opportunity to step back onto the stage at Town. Erin grew up in New Jersey but is currently a junior psychology major and business minor at the University of South Carolina. Erin would like to thank David, Augie and Joy for giving her such an amazing opportunity and for all their hard work. Erin also would like to thank Mom; Dad; and her sisters Amanda, Bridget, Rachael, and Mia for being her biggest source of stability and strength.
Meet Jacob Cordes ~ Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. Jacob is a former student at the University of South Carolina Honors College, majoring in Vocal Performance. His first musical theatre production was Town’s West Side Story in 2018, and Into the Woods will be his third show with Town, in addition to performing Heathers at Trustus this summer. Jacob is excited to perform his first solo in a musical.
Meet Jerryana Williams-Bibiloni ~ Rapunzel. Jerryana was last seen on Town Theatre’s stage as Miss Honey in Matilda. As a junior Vocal Performance Major at the University of South Carolina she has performed with numerous ensembles and as a soloist in various styles both domestically and internationally. She also serves at St. John’s Episcopal Church as a Choral Scholar and leader of St. John’s Music Makers. Jerryana wishes to thank all her family and friends for encouraging her passion and putting up with her hectic schedule.
Meet Anthony Sampedro ~ Rapunzel’s Prince. Anthony has been singing in choral and other vocal groups for nearly 16 years. A former member of the Blythewood High School Acabengals as well as USC’s Carolina Gentlemen a Cappella. Anthony enjoys singing all styles from classical and Broadway to pop and jazz. Anthony enjoys fencing, tabletop roleplaying games, and entertaining in all forms. This is his first community theatre production.
Meet Rachel Glowacki ~ one of our Stepsisters. Rachel is very excited to be going Into the Woods! She has studied, voice, tap, ballet, musical theatre and lyrical dance. She has been a dance captain, choreographed, staged managed and performed in productions at Town Theatre, Chapin Community Theatre, Columbia Children’s Theatre, Workshop Theatre, and with the South Carolina Shakespeare Company. Favorite roles include Baby Louise (Gypsy) Lucinda (Into the Woods), The Mad Hatter (Shrek), Star-to-Be (Annie), Louison (Imaginary Invalid) and Jetsam (The Little Mermaid). A big thanks to everyone involved in this fantastic show!
Meet Irene Baerwalde ~ Jack’s Mother. Before becoming a wife and mother, Irene went to school for musical theatre and vocal performance. She has performed in My Fair Lady, Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as various choral performances. After becoming a mother, Irene chose to focus on entertaining her kids and their friends, instead of focusing on entertaining the masses. Over the past 16 years, she has performed for her church, on their praise and worship team. This is will be her first community theatre production.
Meet Robert Dooley ~ our Steward. Robert is excited to be making his Town Theatre debut in his first Stephen Sondheim show, Into the Woods. He would like to thank David for giving him this opportunity and everyone at Town for being amazing. Robert’s next show will be Carousel with Opera at USC in the spring semester 2020. When not performing in the theatre, Robert can be found singing with the Midlands Men’s Choir. Robert would like to thank his AMAZINGLY PATIENT husband, Chess, who keeps the house running and the dogs walked while Robert is off running through “the woods.”
Meet Abigail Frier ~ one of the Stepsisters. Abigail has been doing theatre for 5 years and is very excited about her first show at Town Theatre. She has attended both of the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities summer programs and hopes to go into the residential program next school year. Some of the recent shows she has performed include Heathers, Wizard of Oz, Annie, and Alice in Wonderland Jr.
Meet Billy Bishop ~ the Baker! Billy draws on extensive theatrical experience and vocal training from Mercer University. Billy completed a Master of Music degree in Church Music at Mercer’s Townsend School of Music in 2012, where he also received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music in 2009. Billy’s stage credits include the roles of Amos (Chicago), Ernie Cusak (Rumors), William Gillette (The Game’s Afoot), the Ghost of John Barrymore (I Hate Hamlet), Ben Hecht (Moonlight and Magnolias), Leonato (Much Ado About Nothing), John Dickinson (1776), Isidor Straus (Titanic), Uncle Max (The Sound of Music),and the Trunchbull (Matilda). When not on stage, Billy remains active at Town Theatre as a costumer and serves Northside Memorial Baptist Church as Minister of Music. Many thanks to Makaela Clark for supporting me in this endeavor even in the midst of planning our upcoming wedding in December.
MeetLisa Baker who portrays the Witch. Lisa is excited to be making her debut on the Town Theatre stage! A 26-year veteran music teacher/director in Lexington, Lisa has most recently performed in Heathers: The Musical (Mrs. Fleming), Hairspray (Velma) and Shrek (Gingy). She would like to thank her family for all their love, support and encouragement to get back on the stage this last year, and to David and Augie for giving her the opportunity to play one of her ‘dream roles’.
Meet Kristen Bales ~ the evil Stepmother ~ Kristen is ECSTATIC to return to the Town Theatre family. She previously played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when she was only 14 years old (time sure has flown by!). She has enjoyed performing as sweet, kind characters in productions throughout middle school, high school, and college; however, she is definitely having a wonderful time as the snobby Stepmother. Kristen is the chief financial crimes prosecutor at the Fifth Circuit Solicitors Office and she genuinely loves tackling mountains of paperwork. Kristen thanks her family and friends for all their love and support – especially her Mom, who encouraged her to rekindle her love of musical theatre.
Meet Ayden Wunderlich ~ Jack. Ayden is a Sophomore at the University of South Carolina currently studying History. He has been involved with school and community theatre since the age of 6 when he was cast as an orphan in a production of Oliver! His roles here at Town have included Archie in Hairspray and, more recently, Specs in Newsies. He is incredibly proud of this talented cast and thankful for the opportunity to perform for all of you!
Meet Elise Heffner ~ our Red Riding Hood. Elise is thrilled to be taking on one of her dream roles with this amazing cast and production team. Elise was seen in Town’s centennial season opener of West Side Story, has been a part of many of our backstage crews and has served for two years as a Town Theatre Summer Technical Intern. She thanks her family for their endless support, and most importantly her mom for always believing in her. She hopes you all enjoy the show and learn that achieving your dreams is only the beginning.
Meet Hannah Thompson ~ our Baker’s Wife. Hannah is thrilled to be making her Town Theatre debut! She graduated from Belmont University with a degree in music education and recently earned her master’s degree in voice performance from The University of South Carolina School of Music. She was part of Opera at USC as the Fox in Janaček’s The Cunning Little Vixen and as a Street Singer in Bernstein’s MASS. Last summer she made her international debut as Sister Genevieve in Puccini’s Suor Angelica with the Varna International Academy.
Meet Jeremy Hansard ~ our Narrator/Mysterious Man. Jeremy remembers falling in love with Into the Woods when it aired on PBS in 1993 and is so glad it has finally come to Town. Other favorite roles on this stage have been Bert (Mary Poppins) and Edward Bloom (Big Fish). He is grateful for his Trinity Baptist Church Cayce family where he is Music Pastor and dearly loves the biggest Into the Woods fans he knows – his wife, Cindy, and daughters, Jillian, Jenna and Julie!
We invited our two leading ladies… Kathy Hartzog and Lee Martin… to share a few thoughts on their road to Yonkers and what it meant to play such an iconic role.
Lee: “Dolly Levi, that’s right Mrs. Dolly Levi born Gallagher ~ social introductions, ladies and gentlemen, of excellent family!” This is how we are first introduced to the one and only DOLLY LEVI! What an introduction! Playing Dolly has always been a role that I always wanted after I saw THE Barbara Streisand portray her in the movie as a child. As I began studying Dolly, I realized that she is one amazing woman. She is a hustler, a nurturer, a puppet master, a devoted widow and an all-around woman who wants to be whole again. The loss of her husband changed her life completely. She had to figure things out on her own which led her to become a jack of all trades.”
Kathy: “Well, where to start? Late in June, I auditioned for this show and what I consider the role of a lifetime. I researched the character extensively but ultimately came to the realization that the actresses who came before me must have come to the same conclusion as I did. I had to find my own voice. Carol Channing, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, Betty Buckley and numerous other big names who performed the role of Dolly through the years were completely different and fresh in their interpretations. Not one was the same as the other! Channing was brash and delightful, Bette Midler was larger than life, Betty Buckley was charming and decided to focus on Dolly’s Irish background by using a soft Irish brogue in her performance, whereas Barbra Streisand was decidedly well, Barbra Streisand, using a strong Jewish characterization and New York accent. All of this helped me immensely in knowing what I had to do. I had to be true to myself as an actress but find the sweetness and vulnerability and quiet determination that was inherent in Dolly.”
Lee: “I found myself really relating to Dolly in the sense of feeling unease if something were to happen to my spouse. I can also relate to learning how to figure things out on your own. I stopped working to stay home and raise my children. My husband’s job is very demanding and has caused us to move around the country more often than most. It has also had us rethink our career paths a few times. That being said, Dolly’s acknowledgment of just being tired of constantly being worried about money can be heard in several of her intimate monologues to her deceased husband Ephraim. Although he has passed, he is still very present in her life. She constantly refers to his sayings and asks for him to let her live again!” “Dolly has learned to figure things out the hard way. In that time, she found that she was not necessarily enjoying life and was just living to survive while giving of herself to everyone. In the end, she realizes that is no way to live and so she “decides to rejoin the human race.” As a woman and an actor, I admire Dolly’s spunk, tenacity and vigor!
Kathy: “One song that spoke volumes to me that I immediately had an emotional attachment to ‘Before the Parade Passes By.’ Dolly sings, ‘I’ve got to get in step while there is still time left before the parade passes by.’ Wow! That sums up the character so completely and spoke to me on a personal level as well. It’s the one time in the entire show that you really see and hear Dolly’s vulnerability and see her tenacity. I can absolutely relate to this sentiment on so many levels and I hope that my interpretation of that song carries over the footlights to the audience because, for me, that is the pinnacle of everything I do on stage and in life.”
Lee: “I agree with Kathy on the importance of the song, ‘Before the Parade Passes By.’ I consider it Dolly’s moment of enlightenment, her anthem. It articulates all the emotions she has been feeling since the loss of her husband and her desire to live life again. It provides a picture of what she believes life could be if she ‘rejoined the human race.’ The song is preceded by a monologue she gives to Ephraim begging for him to let her go but she also asks for him to give her away. The song begins as a slow melancholy acknowledgment of what she wants. As the song continues Dolly’s excitement grows as she pictures all the wonderful things that can happen with her new take on life. I love this song because it is an anthem for anyone who does not want life to pass them by anymore!
Kathy: “I feel so fortunate to have a someone like Lee Martin share the role with. To have that sisterhood and to share the same challenges and moments of self-doubt with someone who was going through the exact same things I was more than I could have hoped for. Lee said it in an interview once, that it could have felt like an ongoing “call back” or competition but it didn’t because we’re both in it together to produce the best show possible and for each of us to find our Dolly voice in our own unique way.”