There’s no shortage of seasonal favorites to be found around town. The winter holidays are all about tradition; as days grow shorter, darker, and colder, we’re comforted by what is familiar. Local theatres are no exception, offering revivals of yuletide favorites, as well as productions of classics from the screen and stage. Here are just a few!
The Waltons was a huge hit on television, but in Earl Hamner’s novels and on the big screen, they were the Spencers, and Hamner adapted his memories of growing up in rural Virginia into a stage play as well. Narrated by Clay-Boy Spencer, The Homecoming recalls a pivotal Christmas, a missing father, and lean times during the Depression. Lexington’s Village Square Theatre returns with this favorite from a few seasons ago for one weekend only, December 4-7. MonaLisa Botts directs; for information, call 803-359-1436, or visit http://www.villagesquaretheatre.com.
Similar small town warmth and values, filtered through a quirkier Southern Gothic perspective, earned Pamela Parker a Pulitzer nomination for her play Second Samuel. West Columbia’s On Stage Productions is reviving their successful production from earlier this year. The Jasperreview of that production said “like Steel Magnolias, the local ladies gather to chat at the beauty parlor, while the men convene at ‘Frisky’s Bait and Brew,’ the kind of place where you can get a Nehi and a Moon Pie as easily as a cold beer or a shot of whiskey…(The play) can be enjoyed at face value as a variation on Mayberry or Vicky Lawrence’s Momma’s Family, or taken at a much deeper level.”
Most of director Robert Harrelson’s cast return, including Debra Leopard, MJ Maurer, Courtney Long, Anne Merritt Snider, Courtney Long, Sam Edelson, and Antoine T. Marion. Run dates are December 4-13; for information, call 407-319-2596, or visit http://www.onstagesc.com/. There will also be a special staged reading of the sequel, A Very Second Samuel Christmas on Saturday, December 6, with the playwright in attendance – your chance to give feedback on a new work in progress!
Town Theatre is also bringing back a popular hit, the stage adaptation by David Ives and Paul Blake of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Based on the 1954 film, this musical, nominated for multiple Tony and Drama Desk Awards, is directed and choreographed by Shannon Willis Scruggs, with musical direction by Sharon McElveen Altman. Frank Thompson and Scott Vaughan play Army buddies who stage a show at a quaint Vermont inn, encountering show biz shenanigans and romantic entanglements with Abigail Ludwig and Celeste Mills along the way. Joining them are Bill DeWitt, Kathy Hartzog, Parker Byun, Andy Nyland, and Bob Blencowe; the show continues this week, closing with a matinee on Sunday, December 7, and you can find a review at Onstage Columbia.
Two other special performances are also scheduled for holiday fun. First, Jamie Carr Harrington directs Disney’s Sleeping Beauty – Kids, the culmination of her Fall Youth Program. This timeless classic will magic its way into your heart this holiday season. There will be music and dancing, as well as magic spells and evil curses. Maleficent crashes little Aurora’s Christening party, and places a curse on the baby simply because she was not invited. A urora is whisked away to the woods where she lives for 16 years. Once upon a dream she meets a handsome stranger, who ends up being the prince who will break the spell with true love’s kiss. Come see Town Theatre’s Youth Program bring a little magic now to the stage, with ayoung beauty who pricks her finger on a spindle and falls asleep due to a curse. There will be fun bumbling fairies, happy woodland creatures, and fantastical goons. (Gotta love fantastical goons! ~ ed.) The show runs Dec. 12-14, with multiple matinee and evening performances.
Also, Jasper Theatre Artist of the Year Finalist Frank Thompson directs A Christmas Carol Columbia – a new version of the Dickens novella, presented live on stage as a radio play, and written by James Kirk. (The author, not the captain.) This special performance will be presented just one, at 3 PM on Sunday, Dec. 21st. For ticket information on all three productions, call 803-799-2510, or visit www.towntheatre.com.
The St. Paul’s Players are presenting The Fourth Wise Man, a musical adaptation of the short story “The Other Wise Man” by Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), an author, educator, and clergyman who is credited with writing the lyrics for “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee.” The Fourth Wise Man is the story of Artaban, portrayed by Jim Jarvis. Other cast members are John Arnold, Brenda Byrd, Olin Jenkins, Randy Nolff, Mark Wade, and Valerie Ward. Artaban, one of the Magi who has studied the stars, endeavors to journey with Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthazar to pay tribute to the Christ Child. He carries three gifts, a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl; however, during his travels he faces tests and challenges. What happens when he finally has the chance to meet Jesus face-to-face?
The St. Paul’s Players’ production of The Fourth Wise Man will be presented in the Good Shepherd Theatre at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, on the corner of Bull and Blanding Streets in downtown Columbia. A dinner theatre performance will be held on Friday, December 5 at 6 p.m. The cost is $10.00 per person, with advance reservations required. Call (803) 779-0030 to make reservations. Two more performances will be held on Saturday, December 6 at 3 p.m. andat 7 p.m. There is no cost for the Saturday performances and no required reservations. For more information, contact John W. Henry, Producer, at 803-917-1002, or Paula Benson, Director, at 803-206-4965.
Trustus Theatre found great success last year with Patrick Barlow’s post-modern adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which remained faithful to the original Dickens material, while incorporating technical wizardry, live music enhanced with synthesizer effects, and sexy, steampunk-influenced costumes for the Ghosts. You can read the Jasper review of that production here, but there have been a few changes for this year’s iteration, with Kendrick Marion joining Director Chad Henderson and last year’s cast, including Catherine Hunsinger, Avery Bateman, Scott Herr, and Stann Gwynn as Scrooge. The show runs through December 20 on the Thigpen Main Stage.
Trustus also has a couple of special events scheduled this month. First, late nights are back with The Ladies of Lady Street Late Night Cabaret, featuring the best in female impersonation. Join a highly entertaining quartet of both local and guest performers on Friday December 12th at 11:00pm. The hour-long show features an entertaining mix of female impersonation, celebrity illusions, showgirl costumes, comedy, glamour and live singing. Vista Queen Emeritus Patti O’Furniture leads a cast that features Dorae Saunders (as seen on “America’s Got Talent” and former Miss US of A at Large), the live singing talents of Denise Russell, and Veronica La Blank (Columbia’s Wild Card of Drag.) This is the second offering of a series of four shows during Trustus’ 30th season. The show takes place on the Thigpen Mainstage; tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online at www.trustus.org or at the door. Doors open at 10:45pm after the evening performance of A Christmas Carol. The show is at 11:00pm. The Trustus bar will open at 10:45pm and will remain open during the show. Or, make a night of it, and check out the Trustus production of A Christmas Carol that same night at 8pm. Tickets for that show are also available online.
Then get ready for Jingle Bell Jazz, featuring the Mark Rapp Quartet and special guests on December 17th. Celebrated jazz trumpeter Mark Rapp and his quartet present a grooving, swinging, funky fun Christmas concert that will leave you toasty, warm and happy for the holidays. Rapp has prepared unique jazz arrangements of such Christmas classics as: Angels We Have Heard on High, Jolly Old St. Nicholas, O Come All Ye Faithful, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer to Wham!’s Last Christmas.Rapp has performed with such distinct artists from Branford Marsalis to Hootie and the Blowfish, released 5 diverse recordings, and is featured leading and playing the closing track of Disney’s “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” CD which also features such artists as Dave Brubeck and Esperanza Spalding. Mark is a featured artist in Mellen Press’ “How Jazz Trumpeters Understand Their Music” among a prestigious list including Terence Blanchard, Lew Soloff, Freddie Hubbard, Tim Hagans, Dave Douglas and more. Mark has performed in jazz festivals around the world from the Fillmore Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, WC Handy Festival, to Jazz Festivals in Switzerland, Croatia and Brazil. The concert performance will begin at 9pm. Tickets are $20 and may be purchased from www.trustus.org. For more information or reservations call the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays 1-6 pm at 803-254-9732 .
Theatre Rowe is presenting Murder Under the Mistletoe at both its Columbia and Lexington locations: Scheduled dates are:
Lexington: December 4-7, 11-14, 18-21
Columbia: December 6, 7, 11, 12, 18, 19, 21
For information, call 803-200-2012, or visit http://scdinnertheatre.com.
Shakespeare’s Kidz, the youth program of the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, presents MidWinter’s Eve: A Shakespeare’s Kidz Tale on December 11th, at 6:00 pm at the Richland Country Library – and it’s free! Written and directed by London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art graduate Katie Mixon, the show is a fun, family friendly, heart-warming inside look at Christmas in Elizabethan England. It’s the night before Christmas, when William Shakespeare pops off for some holiday cheer with the wife for the evening. The Shakespeare brood is on their own! Young twins Judith and Hamnet dance, and duel with swords, while Susanna dreams of romance. Friends Emilia, Malvolio, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern join the party, with a search for the Yule Log, and visits from The Lord of Misrule! Will the Shakespeare kids and their friends survive the night, or will chaos trump all?
Featured in the cast of young performers are Elin Johnson, Joss Kim, Maize Cook, Walt Cook, Napoleon Rodriguez, Guillermo Rodriguez Oliveira, and Lindsay Knowlton. The perforance is approximately 30 minutes; you’re encouraged to arrive at few minutes early to make your way downstairs and claim a good seat! For more information, visit http://www.shakespearesc.org/kidz.html.
Columbia Children’s Theatre presents Jack Frost, the world premiere of a new musical for children, with music by Paul Lindley II, and book and lyrics by Crystal Aldamuy. Run dates are December 5-14.
Something’s up with the weather. The leaves are turning non-existent colors, unexpected snows are blanketing the orange groves and farmers are getting frost bite in the summer. What is going on? Is it global warming? No, it’s Jack Frost being “creative” again. When Jack’s rebellion and yearning for self-expression start landing him in hot water, his parents The Snow Queen and The Frost King, decide that a little time spent with the industrious and practical Kringle family would teach the head-strong lad a lesson. So, in a move straight out of Trading Spaces, Jack and Crystal Kringle trade lives and suffice it to say cleaning up after reindeer is not exactly Jack’s cup of iced tea. With a book and lyrics by Crystal-Alisa Aldamuy and music by Paul Gilbert Lindley II this wintry world premiere musical is just the thing to warm your heart!
Friday, December 5: 7:00 p.m. – World Premiere Performance
Saturday, 6: 10:30 a..m. Breakfast with Santa Package
Saturday, December 6: 2:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 7: 3:00 p.m.Saturday, December 13: 10:30 a..m. & 2:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 14: 3:00 p.m.
PLUS: a special Late Night Date Night for mom and dad – adults-only performance on December 12 at 8:00 p.m. For more information, call (803) 691-4548 or visit http://www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com/jack-frost/ .
By our count, that’s at least thirteen special treats for the holiday, including live jazz, live drag, a live radio play, and multiple for children, as well as featuring children. Something for everyone!