BUZZ-O-METER ‌ Music Theatre 

Good Time Variety Hour
Absolutely Andrew: A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber
Swingtime Canteen
QuinTango
It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues
Blues in the Night: The Songs of Johnny Mercer
The Dangerous Strangers of Cabaret Kiki present the Rogue’s Gallery
Fascinating Rhythm: A Musical Tribute to George and Ira Gershwin
Book of Longing
Urinetown: The Musical
Dogs: The Musical

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Good Time Variety Hour

WHAT IS IT? Charleston’s own Prairie Home Companion variety show, complete with dancers, comedy, and a singing magician. WHY SEE IT? Emcee Bill Schlitt and his wife Maida Libkin put their hearts and souls into the Variety Hour, the Company Company’s signature show. They’ve gathered a talented pool for this year’s program, including an ensemble featuring the cast of Urinetown: The Musical, the Kirk Sprinkles Dancers, and local singer Laura Ball. The show ends with an original “Ain’t That the Schlitts” monologue, a segment Schlitt compares to Garrison Keillor’s tales of Lake Wobegon. After the show, everyone gets to sample Bill’s homemade “Super Salsa.” WHO SHOULD GO? This is all-ages, mid-afternoon, bring-the-extended-family fun. There’s a real variety of acts packed into an hour (hence the name), so there’s really something for everyone. Buzz: The Company Company is oft hailed for their work spreading the arts in the community. There appear to be some real local standouts in this year’s show. (Stratton Lawrence)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $17, $15 seniors/students • (1 hour) • May 26, 27, June 2, 3 at 1 p.m.; May 28, June 9 at 3 p.m. • Village Playhouse, 730 COLEMAN BLVD. • 554-6060


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Absolutely Andrew: A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber

WHAT IS IT? A concert-style performance of Webber’s most recognizable and influential pieces spanning the Broadway darling’s entire career. WHY SEE IT? Webber has written the music for Broadway’s biggest shows, including Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Phantom of the Opera. The tribute is returning after a four-year absence with an expanded, 12-piece orchestra led by Taras Kovayl (Blood Sweat and Tears) and four Broadway singers. WHO SHOULD GO? The family-friendly show will be as intimate as the Charleston Music Hall can muster. The 90-minute program compiles Webber’s best, so if you hate struggling through one or two inevitable clunkers in a Broadway show, rest easy — they’re all hits here! Buzz: If you’ve never been to a musical concert performance, you’re in for a treat as it brings the Broadway show down to an even more intimate level.(Greg Hambrick)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $25 • (1 hour 30 min.) • May 25-31, June 1-2 at 7 p.m.; May 27, June 2-3 at 2 p.m. • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6060


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Swingtime Canteen

WHAT IS IT? In London in 1944, Marian Ames tries to transcend four Hollywood flops by entertaining the troops. WHY SEE IT? The high-energy show includes 30 vintage tunes, including “Don’t Fence Me In,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” and “How High the Moon.” WHO SHOULD GO? Anybody looking to reminisce about the songs of yore and those who may not remember those days, but love Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman.” Buzz: Period costumes, period tunes, and vocal stylings will get you in the mood for a good time. (Greg Hambrick)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $22, $20 seniors/students • (2 hours) • May 26, 27, June 2,3, at 3 p.m.; May 28, June 6 at 7 p.m. • Village Playhouse Theatre, 730 Coleman Blvd. • 554-6060


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QuinTango

WHAT IS IT? A five-piece string orchestra plays authentic tango music while two Argentinian dancers grace the stage. WHY SEE IT? Traveling to Piccolo for their eighth year, QuinTango is a perennial hit. Violinist Joan Singer shares stories, anecdotes, and historical background of the pieces between songs, drawing from the knowledge the group has accumulated during their travels throughout the world. Did you know that the tango originated in Paris, or that it’s the national dance of Finland? This year the group will perform two distinct shows, “Paris and Latin Lovers” and “Viva Buenos Aires!,” a sort of Acts 1 and 2 that will lure many aficionados into a double feature. WHO SHOULD GO? Sizzling dancing and dramatic music packed into just over an hour means that anyone with a taste for culture will enjoy this show. You may want to leave the tots at home, so you and your sweetie can fully pretend you’re “Latin lovers.” Buzz: QuinTango cites Piccolo as a highlight of their year, even renting a beach house on Folly for the affair. They’ll be ready to give a prime performance. (Stratton Lawrence)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $25 • (1 hour 10 min.) • “Paris and Latin Lovers”: May 27 at 8 p.m.; May 28 at 9 p.m. May 30 and June 1 at 6 p.m. • “Viva Buenos Aires!”: May 28, 29 at 6 p.m.; May 30 at 9 p.m., June 2 at 2 p.m. • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060


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It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues

WHAT IS IT? A musical journey through three dozen songs that get to the heart of blues — from Africa to urban Chicago — produced by the local Art Forms and Theatre Concepts. WHY SEE IT? With a backdrop of authentic photos, classics like “Cross Road Blues,” “Someone Else is Stepping In,” “Good-Night Irene” and “Walking After Midnight” pull you in. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone hankering for good blues. Buzz: With a throwback first set and a sexy, jazz club style second set, the show is destined to be a good time. (Greg Hambrick)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $20, $15 seniors/students • (2 hours) • May 29 at 3 p.m.; May 31, June 8 at 6 p.m.; June 2, at 8 p.m. • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060


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Blues in the Night: The Songs of Johnny Mercer

WHAT IS IT? A musical journey tracing the Savannah-born, preeminent songwriter of the 20th century. WHY SEE IT? Johnny Mercer once had a song he’d written in the Top Ten for over 200 consecutive weeks. The man who penned timeless standards like “That Old Black Magic” and “Fools Rush In” is well-deserving of such a tribute. Broadway veterans Brad and Jennifer Moranz will lead a cast of singers and musicians in songs that match the projected pictures, video, and narration of Mercer’s life. WHO SHOULD GO? This will be a real treat for attendees who recall Mercer’s songs when they were brand new hits. The younger set who may only be able to hum along with “Moon River” and “Jeepers Creepers” will benefit from a better appreciation for the prolific career of a Lowcountry legend. Buzz: Mercer fans won’t miss this. The music is timeless, and it’ll likely draw the nostalgia-seeking crowd. (Stratton Lawrence)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $29, $26 seniors/students • (2 hours) • June 7, 8, 9 at 7 p.m.; June 9 at 2 p.m.; June 10 at 3 p.m. • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6


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The Dangerous Strangers of Cabaret Kiki present the Rogue’s Gallery

WHAT IS IT? Snack-sized versions of eclectic local music/dance/theatre/variety act Cabaret Kiki, featuring that show’s core group plus guest artists. WHY SEE IT? In just a year, the irreverently tossed salad of Charleston’s top talent known as Cabaret Kiki has exploded. Once a supergroup-style vanity project that let the members of such acts as Jump, Cary Ann Hearst and the Borrowed Angels, New Music Collective, and Charleston Ballet Theatre blow off some creative steam, Kiki is celebrating a new iteration as a genuine performance phenom. Given the huge group’s city-spanning provenance, it’s not surprising that many of its members have separate gigs during Piccolo. The Dangerous Strangers is therefore a pared-down version of Kiki’s gooey and delicious center, served with a side of local and regional music celebrities including Tin Cup Prophette, Michael Flynn, Josh Kaler, and other equally tasty treats. WHO SHOULD GO? Kiki draws heavily on the real thing: German cabaret of the ’20s and ’30s, while putting their own modern stamp on it. Torch songs, outrageous period getups, relaxed gender roles, plenty of mascara, and enough sexual double-entendre to power a ... well, fill in the blank with your home appliance of choice. Not for the kiddies or the chronically prude. Buzz: Miss at risk of lifelong regret. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • (1 hour) • June 1, 2, 8, 9 at 8:30 p.m.; June 6, 7 at 8 p.m. • Buxton’s East Bay Theatre, 184 East Bay St. • 554-6060


Fascinating Rhythm: A Musical Tribute to George and Ira Gershwin

WHAT IS IT? An all-out, singing-and-dancing tribute to George and Ira Gershwin produced by Brad and Jennifer Moranz. Writer Philip Furia, one of those experts you see on PBS documentaries, narrates between the numbers. And did we mention the archival footage and photographs? WHY SEE IT? The cast is the most credentialed of any show in either festival. Broadway veterans, a former Rockette, an American Idol Hollywood-rounder. WHO SHOULD GO? Anyone who knows all the words to “Summertime,” and where it was written. Buzz: It was written on Folly Beach. So go already. (Jonathan Sanchez)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $29, $26 seniors/students • (2 hours) • June 5 and 6 at 7 p.m. • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6060

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Book of Longing

WHAT IS IT? A new music and multimedia concert work composed by Philip Glass based on a new book of poetry from Leonard Cohen. WHY SEE IT? In 1994, poet, novelist and singer/songwriter and general legend Leonard Cohen, deciding that he was too much of this world, slipped off to a Buddhist monastery at Mt. Baldy near Los Angeles. While there, he was ordained as a monk and did a lot of thinking. Cohen’s May 2006 book of poetry and sketches, Book of Longing, draws on his time pursuing nirvana (no, not as a groupie). Longtime Cohen friend and pioneering minimalist composer Philip Glass has written an ambitious new work that incorporates musicians, singers, spoken word, and imagery based on Cohen’s book. Coinciding with the year of his 70th birthday, Glass’ Book of Longing is a major new concert work — but Joe Bagofdonuts isn’t going to know him because of his operas (like the Allen Ginsberg collaboration The Hydrogen Jukebox, which he premiered at Spoleto in 1993) or his symphonies or his theatre music or the fact that he’s BFFs with artists like David Bowie, Björk, The Dandy Warhols, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Brian Eno, Paul Simon, Suzanne Vega, Natalie Merchant, and Iggy Pop. Most people are going to know Glass because of one of the 79 movies he’s scored. (Yes, ones you’ve seen.) WHO SHOULD GO? Let’s face it, Leonard Cohen isn’t for everybody, nor is Philip Glass. Buzz: The American premiere of a major new concert work by a legend like Philip Glass? (The world premiere is in Toronto just five days prior to its opening here.) That’s the sort of thing that makes Spoleto one of the most prestigious international arts festivals on earth. The buzz on this is more like a roar. (Patrick Sharbaugh)
Spoleto Festival USA • $20-$55 • (2 hours) • June 6, 7, 8 at 8 p.m. • Sottile Theatre, 44 George St. • 579-3100


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Urinetown: The Musical

WHAT IS IT? A satirical musical about a mythical place where a water shortage has forced people to pay to pee. Yes, it’s a privilege to pee. And the company running the toilets? Urine Good Co. WHY SEE IT? Any show with the balls enough to be titled Urinetown: The Musical has to be a good time. The rousing mock-gospel “Run Freedom Run” will have you clapping along with the cast and singing all the way home. The show pokes fun at other Broadway hits and, not surprisingly, keeps a few jabs for its own selection of subject matter. WHO SHOULD GO? Musical lovers will get a kick out of the jabs at Broadway favorites, but there’s enough laughs for everybody. Buzz: Urinetown won three Tony Awards, including Best Original Score. (Greg Hambrick)
PIccolo Spoleto • $24, $22 seniors/students • (2 hours 10 min.) • May 25, 31, and June 1, 7,8, at 8 p.m.; May 26, 27, June 2,3,9, at 7 p.m. • Village Playhouse, 730 Coleman Blvd. • 554-6060




Dogs: The Musical

WHAT IS IT? An original musical by Camden, S.C., playwright Paddy Mahoney Bell that sounds a bit like Cats with less suffocating smarm — a group of dogs (played by humans) go through the trials and tribulations of the canine life, channeling their howling into catchy Broadway-style numbers like “Every Dog Will Have Its Day” and “Speak!” WHY SEE IT? These Piccolo performances are actually the world premiere of the full-length production of Dogs: The Musical, although abbreviated versions garnered quite favorable reviews from the Camden Chronicle Independent. The premise is intriguing, to be sure, and the colorful sets have been likened to “a book with pop-up pictures.” WHO SHOULD GO? The play sounds like a must-see for dog lovers who enjoy a theatrical diversion every now and then, and although the topic seems fluffy and lighthearted, the show isn’t for pups younger than 10, so make it a date night for you and your favorite nonfurry, adult best friend. Buzz: The show’s been gestating since 2003, and judging by the comments on the Dogs: The Musical website (which, it should be noted, are both positive and negative), there will be more than a few folks traveling from out of town to witness the newly-weaned full-length production. (Sara Miller)
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $25, $22 seniors/students • (2 hours) • May 28, June 1, 4, 8, 9 at 3 p.m.; May 29, 31, June 4, 7, 9 at 9 p.m.; June 3 at 5 p.m.; June 10 at noon • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060


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