In September of 2012, we got to see Michael Smallwood go shirtless as Mace in PURE Theatre's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. And we loved it … for more reasons than one.
The play is a comedy that highlights racism in the world of professional wrestling. Chad Deity is the head honcho — think The Rock back in the day — and Mace was his lovely prop. His very specific job title was to make Deity look like a damn good wrestler at all costs. Mace got tired of playing back-up, and things go from there. The play won the 2011 Obie Award for Best New American Play, and the New York Times named it the Best Play of 2011. Most importantly, we here at the City Paper gave it rave reviews.
In fact, Smallwood was so spectacular, he was asked — actually begged — to reprise the role of Mace in Charlotte’s production of the play.
When he was originally recruited, Smallwood was unable to accept because he’d made other plans. Case closed.
Except it wasn’t, because months later Smallwood was contacted again. This time, they told him they’d push the production date back a week if he’d pretty please accept the role. Now he’s in Charlotte reprising his role as Mace in Chad Deity, and he’s noticed some differences from the Lowcountry version.
“The experience has been quite different,” says Smallwood. “A different director, a different performance space, a new cast with new experiences and takes on the role.”
He realized it was bound to be different, especially because the cast and crew had already begun working on the show months before he arrived. But they like him, and he likes them, so it’s all good.
“The cast and crew have been absolutely great about working with me,” says Smallwood. “They’re all really talented artists.”
He says the biggest difference in the Charlotte production has been the wrestling. “In this production, I actually get to wrestle a full match before the show even starts,” he says. “I’m Iron Man!”
Smallwood put a lot of pressure on himself to rise to the challenge, but it’s paid off because the Charlotte Observer gave the performance a great review.
Charlotte performances continue through March 23. Find more info here.
It’s been a banner year for the North Charleston Performing Arts Center’s Best of Broadway series — Wicked was wicked awesome (and record-breaking), and Les Miz killed it.
Now we can look ahead to the 2013-14 season, which will be anchored by Jersey Boys (Nov. 5-10) — if you’re unfamiliar, it’s a story of how four blue-collar kids became some of the greatest successes in pop music in a group called The Four Seasons. Then in December, Sister Act, based on the movie of the same name, is a feel-good musical comedy about a wannabe diva who witnesses a crime and ends up hiding from the cops in a convent.
In 2014, The Addams Family is Jan. 14-15, and Memphis is Feb. 18-19 — it’s a fun, lively musical about the underground dance clubs in Memphis in the 1950s. Million Dollar Quartet (April 16-17, 2014) is a Tony award-winner about the famed recording session that brought together Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins for this first time. As if this wasn’t enough, the series also includes a special performance from none other than Bill Cosby.
All events will be held at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, and tickets are on sale now. For ticket purchasing information, call (843) 202-ARTS, or go to NorthCharlestonColiseumPAC.com.
Theatre Charleston is calling all theatergoers to apply to become voters in the second annual Theatre Charleston Awards. The hosting organization supports, advocates, and promotes Charleston’s theater industry by providing services that strengthen the operations of the member theaters, and the annual awards are a great way to do that.
They're seeking patrons, artists, educators, and journalists with the skills necessary to effectively rate all areas of a production. The voters selected will receive complimentary tickets to attend at least eight productions at a minimum of five different theaters during the 2013/2014 season. As a voter you’ll be required to attend productions of all genres in all types of venues and you must be willing to serve for one full year (Aug. to July).
Applications should be submitted to Emily Wilhoit at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to any Theatre Charleston Member Theatre by March 1 at 5 p.m. For more details and to download the application, visit theatrecharleston.com/awards.
Big news out of Summerville: The Flowertown Players recently hired Charleston theater vet JC Conway as their new artistic director after previous artistic director Sean Lakey moved to Georgia at the end of last season.
Known for his work in the local contemporary theater scene, Conway is an interesting choice for the small-town community theater. He’s been a driving force in Footlight’s Late Night Series and has directed at Midtown and Threshold. He also founded Theatre /verv/ in 2005, producing boundary-breaking works like Blue Room and Bash. The Flowertown Players, on the other hand, are better known for family-friendly crowd-pleasers like Annie and The Odd Couple.
So is Flowertown about to get more edgy? “Right now what I’m doing is getting a feel for the audience and the volunteer base to see if there’s a market for that, then that’ll be a bridge we cross when we get there,” Conway says. “If not, I’m not going to try to force that kind of theater on an audience that doesn’t want it. With them doing Chicago at end of this year and some of the shows that I was handed as potentials for next season, I feel that they might be moving a little bit in that direction ... I think we’ll see something you might not have expected Flowertown to produce in the past, but it’s still going to be a good family atmosphere out there.”
Although Flowertown is now his No. 1 priority, Conway hopes to continue contributing to other local theater companies, and in turn he hopes to draw the city’s theater professionals to Summerville. “We only grow by working with other people,” he says. “We can get caught in a rut by working in the same space over and over again.”
Find out more about this season at Flowertown at flowertownplayers.org.
The Village Playhouse broke ground on their new downtown theater this past summer, and though they were hoping to open their new season this month, they’ve had to push back the opening until December.
According to co-owner and artistic director Keely Enright, “The construction has taken longer than anticipated and we won’t be opening Love, Loss and What I Wore as planned. We are moving that production to the end of the season and opening instead in December with The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Enright says they’re hoping to have the steel beam construction done by the end of the week.
The ambitious renovation project, which we wrote about in June, is transforming the old Meddin Brothers meatpacking warehouse on Woolfe Street into an expansive theater space for the company, formerly based in Mt. Pleasant. The theater is just part of a major wave of revitalization taking place along that stretch of Upper King Street.
Find out more about the Village Playhouse at thevillageplayhouse.com.