From meat pies to irascible patriarchs to sparse set designs, Charleston's theater scene continues to impress 

The Year in Theater

click to enlarge Charleston Stage's The Little Mermaid featured "tricked out" costumes

Charleston Stage's The Little Mermaid featured "tricked out" costumes

Brains, edge, and ambition defined Charleston's theater scene in 2017, with work and players coming together to demonstrate a rich and raging stage presence throughout the city.

Most Memorable Senior Moment

In Village Repertory Company's production of The Father, Nat Jones seizes the title role, portraying the part of an aging, irascible man suffering from dementia with raw power and arresting nuance. A solid runner up goes to Randy Neale as the patriarch in PURE Theatre's production of If I Forget, whose character in the throes of a stroke may be far less antagonistic, but is every bit as unforgettable.

Most Tentacled Spectacle

Who better than Ursula, the deep-sea octo-wench of Charleston Stage's The Little Mermaid, to make optimal use of the Dock Street Theatre's tricked out production capacities? The wow-factor was just the ticket for the company's 40th anniversary celebration.

Sharpest Musical Theater

click to enlarge Village Rep's Sweeney ToDd was a musical delight - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Village Rep's Sweeney ToDd was a musical delight

All-around formidable musical pipes — and a cracker of a double-decker set — came together to deliver Village Rep's bang-up, throat-slasher of a take on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. With Bradley Keith's haunting, resonant performance as the savage barber, along with a top-flight ensemble, Sweeney seared.

Most Creative Cross-Marketing

Spotting true-blue-suited proselytizers of The Church of Latter-Day Saints distributing their much-touted missives outside of the North Charleston Performing Arts Center for the touring production of The Book of Mormon was noteworthy enough. However, the church even took an ad in the program, cheekily lobbing: "Our version is sliiiightly different."

Brainiest Bill of Fare

At PURE Theatre, The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence honed your thinking while it wrecked your head, with splicing multiple characters representing man's irrepressible desire to replicate himself as a machine. As many a Watson, the oh-so-watchable Scott Pattison-Smith gets a special shout-out.

click to enlarge 5th Wall Productions' 'Snowblind' made us want to hang at the mall again - COURTESY WOOLFE STREET THEATRE
  • Courtesy Woolfe Street Theatre
  • 5th Wall Productions' 'Snowblind' made us want to hang at the mall again

Best Reason to Schlep to Citadel Mall

5th Wall Productions may be operating out of a storefront in a past-its-prime shopping mall, but that doesn't stop them from presenting new work — like Snowblind — in a theater scene woefully remiss in this area.

Woman on the Vergiest

Jangled female nerves were all the rage this past year, whether manifest as dark drama or antic comedy. On the dark side, Carrie Schwab was a standout as a new mother with postpartum depression in Mine, Laura Marks's sci-fi drama at Threshold Repertory Theatre in January. On the lighter side, Lynda Harvey-Carter was utter unhinged fun as a strung-out leading lady in Midtown Productions' It's Only a Play.

Set Designer You'd Most Want to Rearrange Your Living Room

Threshold Rep's artistic director and set designer Jay Danner never fails to trick out the company's black box in just-so appointments, whether flipping the theater's standard configuration in a sumptuous stretch of a Russian country manse for Uncle Vanya or fashioning an artfully sparse design for The Elephant Man.

Meatiest Merchandising

That would be for Sweeney Todd once more. Working with their neighbor, Ho¯M restaurant, they offered pre-show meat pies (as they did recently in a New York production), which likely left an odd aftertaste once patrons learned the contents of said comestibles during the show.

Brightest Glimmer of Hope

With real estate visionaries like Patterson Smith creating an arts space at Zion Olivet for theater makers — from a new home for PURE Theatre to a downtown annex space for Art Forms and Theatre Concepts — I am holding out hope that this is the dawning of the age of the enlightened developer.



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