Futch's Non-Putsch
Apparently Footlight Players members who showed up at the Queen Street community theatre's annual membership meeting last week got an eyeful of knives-out political sumo along with their champagne and canapés. On the meeting's agenda: a membership drive, a Footlight history presentation, and a vote to fill four open board seats. Things were proceeding apace when, moments prior to the meeting's kickoff, recently dismissed executive director Richard Futch showed up waving seven certified letters from friends stating their intent to be write-in candidates for the board seats. Oddly, four of these would-be board members — all of whom Futch had in tow — weren't Footlight members. In fact, they were complete strangers to the 75-year-old organization, having never so much as stepped into the theatre before. Under other circumstances, the undisguised effort to stack the board might have stood a chance of succeeding. Futch had a 10-signature petition supporting the candidates — as Footlight by-laws require — and attendance at last year's meeting was so low it could have been held in a kitchen. But in this case, the evening's membership drive (and the nibbles, no doubt) had the theatre unexpectedly well-stuffed with motivated voters. After one longtime member asked the candidates to describe their past association with Footlight and none of the seven managed to muster so much as a word, the erstwhile coup collapsed, according to several onlookers. The seven write-ins were handed their hats in the subsequent vote. In the midst of all this, new board prez Jennifer Metts and recent development hire Jocelyn Edwards somehow managed not to gloat in Futch's direction when they noted that membership had increased 36 percent over the same time last year. Of all the performances that took place on the Footlight stage this season, those two may be among the best. —Patrick Sharbaugh

More Peanuts, Please
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra announced last week that it had come to an arrangement with its 46 musicians to return their pay to 2003 levels. For most of us, this would be unwelcome news. But for the CSO players, who agreed to an 18-percent salary cut that year to keep the symphony from sinking into financial oblivion, it came as reason for celebration — if not exactly jubilation: the agreement didn't include cost-of-living increases the musicians would likely have received in the three intervening years. And these are professionals for whom the average annual salary is about $20K. In other CSO news, it looks like relatively new concertmaster Diana Cohen hasn't been offered a permanent contract with the symphony, so the principal violinist is said to be on the job hunt elsewhere. —PS


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