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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

October 27, 2016

Charleston Daily Review of “Dracula, King of Vampires”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:29 am

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“Dracula: King of Vampires” Rekindles the Classic Horror Story at Dock Street Theatre

October 26, 2016

 

By Mark A. Leon / Edited by Minta Pavliscsak

The Prince of Darkness rises from the crypt to haunt Charleston in the Charleston Stage dramatic production of “Dracula: King of Vampires” playing October 19 – November 6 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre.

Blending the power of persuasion, deep symbolism, the essence of good vs. evil, and a hint of well-positioned comic relief, “Dracula” dishes up a stew of spooky and potent Halloween entertainment.

The dark mystique of Transylvania and the backdrop of Historic 19th Century England come alive with exquisite costume designs, precision use of shadows and well performed British accents.  This production takes you into the heart of the world of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” leaving behind a trail of blood as we follow the mission of a madman.

The set designers use of cryptic furniture, the illusion of a levitating castle door, shadows and sound effects to create a haunting Transylvania castle add a dark foggy aura.  They successfully transformed the stage to intimate settings in Transylvania and England.

The use of symbolism plays a critical role in “Dracula”.  They are highlighted by a quintessential masquerade scene with a wolf, sheep and Bo Peep, Anarchy symbol atop the shipwrecked boat, office desk laden in faces of undead babies and poisonous spiders, crypt below the Abbey home dimly lit by deep purple and red hues.  These carefully positioned props and colors schemes hypnotize the audience luring them deeper into the play.

The role of Count Dracula is played by resident actor Alex Garcia.  His quest for eternal life and world domination drive him to disturbing acts.  Yet, it is the dangerous emotional weapon of love that causes him to trip up making careless mistakes along his conquest.

Aside from his mischievous accent and devilish grin, Count Dracula provides us with a surprising element of humor.  Within the many dark scenes, he brings a break in the drama with playful facial expressions and well-timed lines.  This bit of comedic interruption was perhaps the most surprising element of the performance.

Madeline Glenn Thomas with her mesmerizing eyes, dimples and innocent charm played the role of Mina, the heroin, so beautifully. Her signs of strength and moments of uncompromising weakness showed her range so well.

Insanity is a mental condition that causes a deranged state of mind and a very important part of the plot line.  Nathan Burke, as Renfield, digs deep within his acting range to take on this role.  He was a shining star performing his role as the sailor exposed to the monster and transforming to a person unrecognizable to himself.  It is truly a memorable piece of acting fueled by fear, madness and devotion and one that derives empathy from the audience.

Pen Chance as Dr. Quincy Seward consistently showcases his talents throughout the entire production, sharing the stage with each member of the ensemble cast.  In every scene, he was comfortable being the focal point or the supporting player contributing a level of rationality in a world of insanity.

The story and characters build to a violent and powerful conclusion with magic, theatrics and cast members donning the aisles with black sheets, demonic staffs and lace.

The aura of the classic horror tale Dracula is re-created with passion and heart in the new Charleston Stage adaptation of “Dracula: King of Vampires” now playing at the Dock Street Theatre.

Performances continue running Oct. 27 – Nov. 6 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. Ticket sales available online by clicking here.

 

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September 21, 2016

Cannon Park Dental Creates Fangs for “Dracula”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:30 pm

 

Our friends at Cannon Park Dental are graciously helping us for our up and coming production of “Dracula, King of Vampires”. Today, Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Alex Garcia visited Dr. Jay Myers to have negative molds made of his teeth and bite pattern. Dr. Myers will then create fangs that can snap onto Alex’s teeth for the run of our production. Alex is playing the lead role of Count Dracula in Charleston Stage’s “Dracula, King of Vampires” which plays Oct. 19 – Nov. 6 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. We can’t wait to see the finished product and are very excited for this collaboration with a local dental office!

 

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For more information about “Dracula, King of Vampires” or to purchase tickets, visit our show page by clicking here. Tickets go on sale Sept. 26th!

For more information about Cannon Park Dental, visit www.cannonparkdental.com.

 

 

 

 

September 1, 2016

Set Models for “Hairspray”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:28 pm

 

Before Charleston Stage goes into rehearsals and begins building a set for a particular production, our tech and design staff will create set models that are used to not only show our directors and cast what the set will look like and the concept for each show but to also gain an overall sense of spacing as the director and choreographer begin working with the cast at our Mt. Pleasant rehearsal studio before moving to the theatre.

Featured below are a few of the set models for our up coming production of “Hairspray” which opens next Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. This week our tech staff loaded in the actual set pieces at the Dock and many colorful photos of the set and cast on stage will be coming soon. Stay tuned for photos being posted early next week!

For more show information or to purchase tickets to “Hairspray”, click here.

Featured: The Hefty Hideaway set for the musical number "Welcome to the 60s".

Featured above: The Hefty Hideaway set for the musical number “Welcome to the 60s”.

Featured: The finale set for "You Can't Stop the Beat".

Featured above: The finale set for the musical number “You Can’t Stop the Beat”.

Featured: The jail house musical number "The Big Doll House".

Featured above: The jail house set for the musical number “The Big Doll House”.

Featured: Penny's bedroom (left) and Tracy's jail cell (right) for the musical number "Without Love".

Featured above: Penny’s bedroom (left) and Tracy’s jail cell (right) for the musical number “Without Love”.

August 19, 2016

Food Props Workshop

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:19 am

 

Recently, Charleston Stage’s Production Stage Manager Ashley Palmer and Charleston Stage Resident Actor Pen Chance (now our Properties Production Assistant) held a workshop with our High School TheatreWings Apprentices on creating fake food props. They had two days of workshops at our new scene shop in West Ashley. The main focus of this prop workshop was to teach our TheatreWings Apprentices on how to create fake food props and specifically work on props for our season opening production of “Hairspray”.

Featured in the photos below is a tray of pink assorted donuts that the “Hairspray” character Edna brings on stage. The donuts are made from household socks and the icing is a combination of pink felt, glitter and paint.

Also featured, and probably the biggest prop our TheatreWings Apprentices created during the workshop, is a 4 ft hoagie sandwich. The first step was carving the bread out of foam, which Resident Actor Pen Chance tackled. While Pen worked on carving the bread, the TheatreWings Apprentices cut out and painted the meats, cheeses, tomatoes and more. Also built during the workshop was a pecan pie created from spread memory foam and an empty pie tin and other desserts such as a 3-layered strawberry fruit cream cake.

Come see the final products on stage at the Historic Dock Street Theatre! “Hairspray” performances run Sept. 7 – 25, 2016, and tickets are available by clicking here. To learn more about our High School TheatreWings Apprentice Program click here.

 

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Featured from left to right: Charleston Stage TheatreWings Apprentices Katie Batten, Elan Levine and Ann Webb along with Charleston Stage Professional Resident Actor Pen Chance.

 

 

 

 

August 12, 2016

Meet Mary Adkins, Charleston Stage’s Box Office Manager

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 3:18 pm

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Q: Where did you grow up?  Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for the arts?

A: I grew up in a small town just outside of Albany, New York. During elementary, middle and high school I was involved in chorus, band and our school’s Drama Club as well as attending lots of musical theater camps.

 

Q: Where did you receive training?  How did this prepare you for your work in the theatre world?

A: I went to the University of South Carolina for my undergraduate degree in Music Education and then to Florida State University for a Master’s in Arts Administration.  I learned a lot about arts education and management from both degrees, which has really prepared me for the programs that Charleston Stage offers and working on the administrative side of things.

 

Q: Briefly describe your position at Charleston Stage and what you do for the company.

A: I am the Box Office Manager at Charleston Stage, so I handle all group and school matinee orders, as well as processing season memberships and selling single tickets. One of my biggest jobs this summer has been to try and expand our audience by reaching out to new people who may not know why Charleston Stage is so great.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously before Charleston Stage?

A: During my time at Florida State, I house managed at the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall, was the Marketing Assistant at the Challenger Learning Center and assisted at both the Tallahassee Symphony and the Florida State University Orchestras.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: In my spare time, I like to go to the beach, travel, run and craft.

 

 

 

 

August 3, 2016

Meet Helen Wolfe, Charleston Stage’s Director of Development

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:56 pm

 

Q: Where did you grow up?  Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for the arts?

A: I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, and spent my entire childhood immersed in the arts. My stage debut was dancing for 36 seconds as a Candy Cane in the holiday ballet The Nutcracker, and from there I found my niche in theatre, making my debut as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird at Nebraska Wesleyan University. I was able to perform in numerous community theatre productions and take dance, piano, voice and oboe lessons through high school, under the direction of incredible teachers who became my role models and taught me invaluable arts and life lessons. My parents showed me how important it is to support the arts in your community, by serving on local boards such as Nebraskans for Public Television, the Lincoln Community Playhouse, the Lincoln Arts Council and the Sheldon Art Association which, in turn, introduced me to the field of arts management.

 

Q: Where did you receive training?  How did this prepare you for your work in the theatre world?

A: I attended University of Evansville (Evansville, IN) and received a B.S. in Theatre Management. Though my degree was very specialized, I also got a broad liberal arts education. Since the Theatre Management program was small, I was able to delve into many different parts of arts administration such as publicity, house management, group sales, working with the Theatre Society board and an Adopt-a-Student program where community residents “adopted“ far from home theatre majors.

I also had amazing summer internships while in college, spending one summer interning in General Management and Special Events at La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California, another summer interning in Development at Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City, New York and another as a Development Apprentice for Spoleto Festival USA, which brought me to Charleston for the first time.

 

Q: Briefly describe your position at Charleston Stage and what you do for the company.

A: As Director of Development I create and execute Charleston Stage’s annual fundraising plan, securing financial support from individuals, foundations and corporations through direct support and special events. In general I help our patrons and audience members feel more connected to Charleston Stage on a personal level, and show them how important their support is to the company.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously before Charleston Stage?

A: I first moved to Charleston to work in Special Events for Spoleto Festival USA, then secured a position here at Charleston Stage as the Donor Relations and Special Events Manager. I returned to Spoleto Festival USA for 3 years, working in a variety of Development positions before transitioning from performing arts to cultural arts and advocacy as the Strategic Partnerships Coordinator for Historic Charleston Foundation for two and a half years. I’m thrilled to be back in the performing arts arena with Charleston Stage.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: I enjoy staying active by taking fitness classes and spending time outside, especially with my husband Glenn and miniature dachshund Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird has been a very influential play and book in my life). I also love to read, play piano, hide out in local coffee shops, give back to the community through organizations such as the Junior League of Charleston, and spend quality time with family and friends.

 

 

 

 

July 7, 2016

Meet Corinne Madeen, Charleston Stage’s Costume Shop Manager

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 4:04 pm

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Q: Where did you grow up?  Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for the arts?

A: My family moved from LaPlata, Maryland, to Gainesville, Georgia, when I was in Kindergarten and I was picked to play the “Goldilocks” character in our school play. This began a life-long love of acting and theater arts education.

 

Q: Where did you receive training?  How did this prepare you for your work in the theatre world?

A: I received training at Guilford College, USC-Aiken and The University of South Carolina from which I received an MFA in Design. I completed an internship with The Seattle Repertory Theater in 2009 and since then have focused on starting a family and designing costumes for various theatrical productions in Columbia, SC.

The highlight of my training and education was attending the Prague Quadrennial in 2007, the largest scenography event in the world. Working with people from all over the globe to create performance art, puppetry and music was not only inspirational but introduced me to the work and professionalism of artists, designers, scenographers and other theater professionals.

 

Q: Briefly describe your position at Charleston Stage and what you do for the company.

A: I have the pleasure of being the new Costume Shop Manager. The purpose of my role within Charleston Stage is to work with our Resident Costumer, Barbara Young, in the organization and scheduling of fittings, costume builds and costume production schedules. I will be here to help manage the new Costume Shop, communicate with other areas of production and help identify new areas of growth within the Costume Department.

 

Q: Where have you worked previously before Charleston Stage?

A: Since my internship with Seattle Rep, I have designed costumes in Columbia, SC, for Trustus Theater and the Irmo/Chapin Recreation Commission (in their Educational Theater programs). I have worked as the Costume Shop Manager at USC-Aiken and instructed a Costume Lab class, guiding students in the design and production of costumes for their MainStage production.

 

Q: What do you do in your spare time?

A: My favorite thing to do with my spare time (other than spending time with my husband and son who turns 2 this Halloween) is to volunteer for Girls Rock Camp, a summer camp for girls who learn how to be in a rock band, write their own song, culminating in a public performance at the end of just one week! I have taken music lessons for most of my life, both vocal and instrumental. I strive to learn how to play as many instruments as possible from harp to ukulele, guitar and most recently piano.

 

 

 

 

June 9, 2016

Charleston Stage Granted Boeing Vision Award

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:47 pm

Charleston Stage’s Sensory-Friendly Performance Series

 

Charleston, SC (June 9, 2016) – Charleston Stage, in residence at the Historic Dock Street Theatre, has been awarded $25,000 from Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts via the Boeing Vision Award for Charleston Stage’s Sensory-Friendly Performances performed at the Dock Street Theatre.

This award through the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts will help fund Charleston Stage’s sensory-friendly performances for special needs children and their families.

“We are so excited to be able to help Charleston Stage launch this wonderful initiative. Bringing the arts to underserved individuals is critical, and providing an inclusive performing arts experience for everyone will be such a positive addition to our community,” says Mike Gibbons, Executive Director for the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts (Arts Alliance).

The Boeing Vision Award is given to a non-profit member of the Arts Alliance that has put forth a bold project vision for an innovative arts concept, in particular one that would benefit marginalized or underserved communities.

Charleston Stage was selected by a five-person panel that included members of the arts, education, and business communities, and that was approved by the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts Board of Directors.

“Charleston Stage is very honored to receive the Boeing Vision Award which will allow us to continue to expand access to our productions. Charleston Stage is committed to expanding accessibility to all our productions, and this gift in support of Sensory-Friendly performances for three shows next season will allow us to expand this mission. We appreciate the support of both Boeing and the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts in making these Charleston Stage performances available to the Asperger’s Syndrome/Autistic Community and their families”, says Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director.

Founded by playwright Julian Wiles in 1978 as a theatre for youth, Charleston Stage has grown to be South Carolina’s largest professional theatre company. In residence at the Historic Dock Street Theatre, it has produced over 150 plays and musicals for an audience of over 1 million. Charleston Stage employs 19 full-time staff members including an education staff of 10 plus numerous guest artists. Theatre Arts Education and Outreach programs continue to be a cornerstone of the company’s mission.

This past season, Charleston Stage launched its first ever sensory-friendly performance for special needs children and their families. It was a great success, and thus Charleston Stage is proposing this project as an ongoing initiative for this underserved community by holding one performance for each our three Family Series productions each season as a sensory-friendly performance.

The goal of this project is to educate and expose children on the Autism Spectrum and others with sensory sensitivities to the enrichment of live professional performing arts.

Children on the Autism Spectrum have what are described as sensory sensitivities. These sensitivities limit the educational exposure to live performing arts due to the nature of theatre etiquette and the large crowds it draws. The lack of exposure to these priceless arts education experiences is something Charleston Stage will remedy with our sensory-friendly performances, the first of its kind in the Lowcountry. By educating and raising these children up, we raise everyone up.

Children, families, teachers and therapists will have the opportunity to attend special live performances of Charleston Stage’s Family Series productions. Materials to enhance the educational value of the performances will accompany these productions.

Modeled after the same projects at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and Broadway, sensory-friendly performances are specifically designed to be comforting for those with sensory sensitivities. Some of what that entails includes altering the theatre environment, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming to all families. The performance itself will be adjusted with special attention paid to lighting and sound.

 

Contact: Brian Porter, Director of Administration
PO Box 356
Charleston, SC 29402
(843) 647-7373
bporter@charlestonstage.com

 

 

April 25, 2016

Meet Andrea Rausch, Starring as Bird Woman in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:40 am

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Q1: Tell us about your first memory of seeing “Mary Poppins” or reading the books?

I don’t remember reading the books, but I do remember being completely captivated by the movie! I would dance around singing the songs and always wanted to be the guy who sang “I Love to Laugh”, which unfortunately isn’t in the stage production.

 

Q2: What role do you play?   

In this production, I get to play the Bird Woman! I am so excited about this role! The Bird Woman is such a mysterious and mis-understood character. I look forward to getting to know her!

 

Q3: What was the funnest part of the rehearsal process for “Mary Poppins”? 

I am hooked on the entire process of every show. Watching everything come together during rehearsals is so great to watch. Choreography rehearsals are always fun too!

 

Q4: Where are you originally from?

I was born and raised in Southern California. I grew up performing! It was always my dream to be a performer and it amazes me every day that I am living that dream! I have lived all over the country and even spent 3 years living in Japan with my husband and two sons.

 

Q5: How did you get involved in theatre?

I remember the first time I ever did a solo was in Middle School and I was hooked! I continued taking classes in school and after school programs and when I was 16 I asked my Mom if I could get an agent… I was hooked!

 

Q6: Where did you receive your theatre training?  

Toward the end of my Junior year of High School, I decided that I wanted to go to an acting conservatory. I did some research and decided to audition for The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I was accepted at the beginning of my Senior year and after graduation, I moved to LA to start school. I ended up being invited back for a second year and completing the program! It was an amazing experience and I gained priceless knowledge about performing and the industry.

 

Q7: Tell us about other theatre experiences?

I have had a wonderful opportunity to perform in multiple states and even in Japan. While living in Pensacola, FL, I had the pleasure of working at the Pensacola Little Theatre where I got to play Ado Annie in “Oklahoma”. That was one of my favs!

 

Q8: Are you excited about tap dancing in “Mary Poppins”?

Tapping… I’m excited about tapping… Wait… Never mind… Feeding the Birds… I’m excited about feeding the birds!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 21 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured: Andrea Rausch as Bird Woman in “Mary Poppins”.

 

 

 

 

April 18, 2016

Meet Letty Clay, Starring as Mrs. Corey in “Mary Poppins”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 1:11 pm

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Q1: What is your first memory of seeing “Mary Poppins”?

My very first memory of “Mary Poppins” was when I was in grade school, and movies were shown at the drive in, or because I was a California Kid and Disneyland/Hollywood were near, the local library received reels of the current Disney films. My older sisters or our Mom took me to the special screenings. That’s where I saw many Disney films, including “Mary Poppins”.

 

Q2: What role do you play?

I LOVE musicals, and being asked to portray Mrs. Corey has been a delight! I’m super excited about the pageantry of the costume, the Island accent I was encouraged to create for the character and just the shear spectacle of color that is taking place on stage during the infamous SUPER CAL number.

 

Q3: What was the funnest moment of the rehearsal process for “Mary Poppins”?

Charleston Stage rehearsals are usually a hoot from beginning to end. The wonky letters that spell out that fabulous word could easily get the cast into some questionable staging if not careful, where inadvertent spelling of questionable words worthy of censorship, and not meant to be seen by all audiences. The entire cast is comprised of a completely zany group, but I would have to say Andrea Rausch (Bird Woman) keeps me in stitches.

 

Q4: Where are you originally from?

The first 1/3rd of my life was spent in sunny Southern California. In many ways I am still a slightly brown “Valley Girl.” My parents then decided that migrating back East to their childhood home in Mississippi was a bright idea. I did my penance there, graduated high school, and put in a semester at a small community college. Then I made my escape by way of the military. Fast forward through my 20’s, and 30’s and I’ve been a 22+ year resident of Charleston, while raising one daughter and sending her off to college last Fall 2015. I try to travel as much as I can afford to, to visit with my “looks too young for 78-year-old” Mother, my oldest sister outside Dallas, TX, and my middle sister and younger brother, who are now new residents of Las Vegas, NV, my college daughter and all of my other extended family.

 

Q5: How did you get involved with theatre?

During middle school, my music teacher approached my mother and convinced her that I should receive voice lessons. All the time in both high school and college: music and performing were my escape, transporting me to places that looked nothing like “small town” MS. An error in scheduling kept me out of chorus during my Freshman year of high school, but that never happened again. My tuition and fees when I attended college were supplemented by a partial performing arts scholarship. Good times.

A genuine love of singing and music from childhood, and an early introduction to music and theater, led me to the shows and the roles that I’ve been blessed to have. I am super stoked about this part, especially now that I have a full circle understanding of the cliché that “There really are NO small parts… just small actors…”  I continue to learn something from everyone that I have the opportunity to be around, whether director, stage manager, music director, choreographer or fellow actors.

 

Q6: Tell us about other theatre experiences.

Back in 2012, a wonderful friend and theater mentor, Henry C. Middleton, graciously invited me to the “Porgy and Bess” audition, and then somehow convinced the panel to cast me in the ensemble. On the afternoon of our final Sunday matinee of “Porgy and Bess”, the beautiful opera written about Charleston, and performed for the very first time ever on the Dock Street Stage, we strolled down the sidewalk to a cast party. Henry implored me to continue with being involved with theater. One day in 2013, to my surprise I received an email informing me of the auditions for Charleston Stage’s “Gershwin at Folly”. My theater experiences really feel as if they have taken off to another level, just in the last 4 years, especially since becoming involved with Charleston Stage.

 

Q7: Do you get to fly in “Mary Poppins”?

No, but I’m excited for Resident Actors Nathan Burke (Bert) and Carin Lagerberg (Mary Poppins) who will be doing the tap dancing while flying, and the magnificently choreographed ensemble tap and dance numbers as a whole. What the director, designers, stage engineers, costumers, and crew are able to create is simply magic!

 

Charleston Stage’s “Mary Poppins” continues running April 21 – May 1, 2016, at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. For tickets, call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online by clicking here.

 

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Featured Center Right: Letty Clay as Mrs. Corey in “Mary Poppins”.

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Featured: The cast of “Mary Poppins” perform “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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