Thank You To Our Patrons

Thank you for making Charleston Stage’s 31st season a success!  We value your support and look forward to another exciting season with all performances playing at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre.  One more year until we’re back at Dock Street Theatre!  


(Charleston Stage Staff and Resident Actors) 

The Producers: Double Duty!

(by Sonny Kong, Charleston Stage Resident Actor)  In the “world of theatre”, so to speak, it is common to double cast– use one person to fill various roles.  This is a common occurrence on every stage from Broadway to regional theatres all around the nation, and is done mainly to make certain scenes seem very large. This is especially true in any scene with a major dance number.  The more people who can do a complicated tap routine on stage at once, the better!  As Carmen Ghia, I have many scenes in which I flit and float around the stage. However, Carmen is not in any major dance numbers. In order to showcase my dance training and to fill the stage more in major ensemble numbers, choreographers Michael Lasris and Sarah Claire Smith decided to add me in. At first, we toyed around with the idea of having me still portray Carmen in “Springtime for Hitler” but ultimately decided to make my dance cameo an entirely different character. This gave me the exciting challenge of developing two separate characters throughout the rehearsal process. As far as onstage challenges, it requires two super-speedy quick changes backstage with the help of a fellow cast member. While it may be difficult, I thoroughly enjoy being a double… I get to have split personalities on stage while getting to tap. That certainly sounds like a good time to me! 


(Center:  Charleston Stage Resident Actor Sonny Kong as Carmen Ghia) 


Reflection by a Theatre Wings Apprentice


by Preston Hogue, Theatre Wings Apprentice 

I was first introduced to Charleston Stage Company in the fifth grade when I took a class in theatreschool.  In the class I was encouraged to audition for A Christmas Carol, and I was cast.  I continued to take classes and be in shows through middle and high school, and in ninth grade it only seemed natural for me to join the TheatreWings Apprentice Program, more commonly known as Wings. 

            As an actor, I was apprehensive about joining Wings at first.  I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to get involved in all of that “backstage stuff” as I thought of it then.  On my first day in the shop, though, my apprehension dissolved as I learned a wealth of knowledge on constructing a set.  Not only did I learn how to build a flat (in essence a wall for the stage), but I actually built a flat!  I’m proud to say that now, three years later, if Stefanie were to give me the dimensions of a flat this week in the shop, I could build it with little help!

            Crewing shows has proven to be an equally important experience for me.  As the assistant stage manager for The Producers, I am required to attend all rehearsals where my main tasks are recording blocking, or stage movement, and keeping up with props and set pieces.  As an aspiring director, seeing the rehearsal process from start to finish and having the opportunity to observe almost the entire creative process of a show has proved to be an invaluable resource.  I am going into college with experience that not many freshmen have.

            I am very thankful to Charleston Stage for the experiences they have provided for me, both onstage and offstage!  I have been very blessed receiving the training I have had from Stefanie, Mike, Ms. Barbara, Marybeth, and Julian over the years.  As The Producers closes this week, and I look ahead to life as a TheatreWings Apprentice (and high school) graduate, I can’t help but look back and be thankful for the invaluable opportunities that have been afforded to me by Charleston Stage Company.


Building Participation in the Arts

by George McLeer, Charleston Stage Administrative Assistant 

            Back in December, I registered for my classes like every other student at the College of Charleston.  I signed up for a class called “Building Participation in the Arts”, the marketing class for my major – Arts Management.  I took it because Beth Curley, Communications Manager here at Charleston Stage, told me she was going to be involved with the class and that it would be another great opportunity for me to work a little more in depth with the organization than with what I do currently.

            The class was split into two groups, one assigned to the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, and the other half (my half) was assigned to Charleston Stage Company.  The point of the class was to allow Arts Management students to have hands on experience in marketing for arts organizations.  Throughout the progress of the Arts Management major, the students get to come up with ideas for marketing, but can never really implement them.  This class gives us real world experience since we are dealing with a real organization and a real event.  My group was put in charge of marketing the current success The Producers for CSC. 

This large project has proven to be an amazing experience for all of the students involved.  Not only were we able to come up with ideas for marketing this show, but also our ideas were allowed to come to fruition and translated into tangible results.  Everything from a marketing plan, to press releases, to posters were brainstormed, produced, and executed through our group of 12 students.  There were lots of challenges associated with this real-life homework assignment.  Making sure the press release was exactly what Charleston Stage wanted printed, designing posters and flyers, and finding as many websites as possible to post information about The Producers were just some of them.  But the project overall was a great way to give me and my classmates a real-world experience in marketing and a deeper look into the process and mindset Beth and the rest of the employees at the organization have to be in constantly.  At the same time, from my point of view as an employee, this was a great way for CSC to reach out to another market of young professionals and continue our mission as an organization to educate the youth of the Lowcountry, no matter how “young” they might be; not to mention the work of the class came free, so it gave Beth a chance to work more intensely on other projects and came at a smaller cost to her.

If you read about this show in the City Paper, Post and Courier, or if you heard about on TV, the radio, the internet, or you saw a poster somewhere near your home – you have seen the product of this wonderful class and the collaboration of this great organization and the College’s Arts Management department.  I have to put a plug in for my fellow students who worked so hard with me to get the word out about this production, so congrats to all of us; and a huge thanks to the Arts Management department, Marla Loftus (our professor), Beth Curley, and the whole company of Charleston Stage for giving me and my classmates this opportunity.  


(George McLeer, Charleston Stage Administrative Assitant) 

Reflections of a Former Resident Actor

(by Brian Bogstad, Former Charleston Stage Resident Actor)  The opportunity to create the character of Max Bialystock in this production has been both gratifying and humbling. Gratifying, because the comedic genius of Mel Brooks has always inspired me. From “The 2,000 yr old man,” to “Young Frankenstein” – I laugh, every time. I remember watching the original movie of “The Producers” starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder over and over again, captivated. A humbling experience because of this amazing role (Vic, this is my Atticus), and the talented people in this production. This show has been a huge, yet rewarding undertaking for all involved. It still amazes me how people can inspire one another in the creative process.Almost a decade ago, as a resident actor I learned some very important lessons. One of them being, the people make the difference.  Here at Charleston Stage it’s proven time and again, with every production. Where would we be as a society without this craft to show us glimpses of ourselves, and each other?I thank everyone I’ve had the chance to hit the boards with on this production.  You are all amazing.To the six individuals I’ve had the opportunity to watch this season, it has been a blessing to work with you. I have been where you are now, and if I must lend advice, here it goes.  Stay humble (it’s a shorter fall). Stay hungry, never sell yourself short. You have all been given this passion for a reason, so even in hard times, don’t question it. One day you will look back on the friendships you developed and the fun times you had and the crazy life you led and wonder how you got where you are. But as much as you have experienced, it’s only the beginning.And lastly, Marybeth Clark will always give sound advice, and she’s always right.I love you all and remember, “there’s a lot more to you than there is to you!” 


(Brian Bogstad as Max Bialystock)



(Brian Bogstad as Max Bialystock) 

Susan Stroman, Original Choreographer For The Producers

by Sarah Claire Smith, Charleston Stage Resident Actor 

Michael and I would love to take all the credit for our brilliant choreography… but we just can’t.  In the year 2001, the lush mind of Susan Stroman created some of the most ingenious, clever, and simulating choreography Broadway had ever seen in Mel Brooks The Producers.  Ms. Stroman was nominated for Best Choreography and Best Direction and WON THEM BOTH!

I once did a research paper on Stroman (“Stro” as the call her in the biz).  I first experienced her genius in high school when I saw the movie Crazy For You that PBS televised. Coming from a dance background I was STUNNED by the dazzling choreography. I get so excited when I see serious dance being incorporated into modern musical theatre. The thing that caught my eye the first go around was the way she incorporated props into the dance numbers. Crazy For You is set in Nevada in the 30’s and she uses telephones, mining pales, and tin roofs as aids to her choreography. She takes items from the time or place and weaves them magically into the production numbers. She also always has a tap number or two and who doesn’t just smile when they hear those tippy tappy toes?

This is even more remarkably done in The Producers. The biggest show stopper and laugh for the audience in the “Little Old Lady Land” number. It is a tap number with 15 old ladies and their walkers! GENIUS! Also the champagne glasses in “I Wanna Be a Producer” and the ball and chains in “Prisoners of Love” are all from the original production straight from the fertile mind of Ms. Stroman.  The woman knows how to take musical theatre dance to the next level and it is nothing less than inspiring. Her dedication and thinking outside of the box have truly sparked a creative flame in my own work and her work gives my work another level of passion. Michael and I had a blast recreating our own version of her original ideas! Greatness truly does inspire greatness.

I have also had a delightful time playing Ulla. She is a trip! It’s taken some serious mind over matter to breathe, belt, and dance through “When You Got it, Flaunt It.”  It’s been a wonderful growing experience. And when else do you get to play a loveable Swedish blonde bombshell? I would never have imagined myself in the role but it has been such fun and I’m very thankful for the experience. I am honestly very thankful for every role, every show, and every person I have met in my ten months here with Charleston Stage! And this is the perfect show to go out with a bang!  I hope you can make it to see this remarkable display of musical theatre comedy at its best!!    


(Charleston Stage Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith as Ulla in the musical number “When You Got It, Flaunt It”) 


What A Season!

by Marybeth Clark, Charleston Stage Associate Artistic Director and Director of Education 

From West Side Story to The Producers, with Charlotte’s Web and Christmas Carol in the mix too, I have had a very diverse group of shows to direct this season. One of my favorite things about watching The Producers is seeing how much this years Professional Resident Actors have grown as performers. Each year we hire a group of young actors to come and work with us for ten months. They must have a degree in theatre and experience working outside a university setting. They spend the season performing and teaching. Each year I am amazed at all the talent these young professionals bring to Charleston Stage. This year in addition to teaching over 500 students, performing in eight shows (that means more than 60 shows) and working our box office, they have choreographed dances, choreographed fights, accompanied on piano and have even performed at 7:30 am for the Rotary club.

When I started the Charleston Stage Professional Resident Acting program 9 years ago, I was confident in the idea, but never imagined all we could accomplish. It is especially fun to see Brian Bogstad who plays Max Bialystock in The Producers.  Brian was in the very first Resident Acting company. Now to see him lead the show with this years company, Sarah Claire (Ulla), Andy (Leo), Viveka (Usherette, Little Old Lady), Michael (Roger DeBris), Sonny (Carmen Ghia) and Brian (Franz) shining brightly along side him really makes me proud.


(Former Charleston Stage Resident Actor Brian Bogstad as Max Bialystock and Charleston Stage Resident Actor Andy McCain as Leo Bloom) 



(Charleston Stage Resident Actors Sonny Kong as Carmen Ghia, Brian Zane as Franz Liebkind, Andy McCain as Leo Bloom, and Michael Lasris as Roger Debris)



(From Left To Right:  Charleston Stage Resident Actors Viveka Chandrasekaran and Sarah Claire Smith in The Producers)   



Chorus of The Producers

(by Beth Curley, Charleston Stage Communications Manager) During last weekend’s performances, Charleston Stage Props Master Michael Christensen took some wonderful shots from backstage which feature the actors of The Producers.  The photos featured in this blog highlight the chorus of The Producers.  These very talented actors, singers, and dancers have graced the Sottile Stage throughout the entire Season.  In The Producers, they play multiple roles from chorus line dancers, to supporting roles, little ol’ ladies, and even pigeons!  Special thanks for all their hard work, dedication and talent! 


(The actors wait backstage before their big entrance in “I Wanna Be A Producer”.  Crew members stand by to help open and close doors)



(Moments later, these actors perform in the musical number “I Wanna Be A Producer”) 



(Spoil Alert!  This photo was taken during the scene following “I Wanna Be A Producer” where some of the chorus girls have remained on stage and are hiding behind the pigeon coupe to work the pigeon puppets.  Our props go out to Set Designer Stefanie Christensen for creating such a clever set piece!) 



(In this photo, the chorus appear as the old ladies of Little Ol’ Lady Land.  This number requires the entire cast, both male and female actors to dress up as Little Ol’ Ladies)



(The cast perform in the musical number “Springtime For Hitler”) 

The 400 Costumes for The Producers!

by Barbara Young, Charleston Stage Costumer

When we decided on The Producers, I researched the original show costumes and was astounded to learn  they had more than a half million dollar budget and 6 months, as well as a huge staff to put together this mega show.  I wondered how on earth we could make this happen? In the original production, Roger Debris’s “ Chrysler building” dress alone cost 20,000 dollars!  That’s more than our entire yearly costume budget! 

And we only had about a month to build the costumes for the show with only a staff of TheatreWings High School Apprentices and our costume shop assistant, Barbara McGrath.

Of course I’ve never had a show go to stage without being fully dressed, so I put out the call for volunteers.  Many of the Resident Actors volunteered, as did others, including many family members!  So we began painting stripes on prison uniforms,  making a dozen identical Little Ol’ Lady costumes (complete with bloomers, pearls and hats ), not to mention, a brigade of storm troupers, hordes of Bavarian peasants and more! Altogether, there are over 400 costume pieces in this show!

I think my favorite, has to be Michael Lasris’s “Chrysler dress”.  Though we didn’t have $20,000, we found vintage trim for this spectacular costume piece, including a trim from a costume once worn by an early Miss America contestant! How fitting that it should grace the stage once more!




(Far Left:  Charleston Stage Resident Actor Michael Lasris as Roger Debris wearing the “Chrysler dress”)


(The Producers cast members wearing the Little Ol’ Lady costumes) 


Pay-What-You-Will Night Was A Hit!

(by Beth Curley, Charleston Stage Communications Manager)  Last night was The Producers Pay-What-You-Will Night.  And for the cast and crew, it was the first performance with an audience.  Four hundred patrons attended Pay-What-You-Will night.  And they loved it!  There was laughter all throughout and a cheering standing ovation at the end.  The audience last night is spreading the word and phones are ringing off the hook!  Don’t miss out on this modern day, hilarious Mel Brooks musical.  If you have the financial blues, than this is your cure!  Performances run April 16-26 at the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre.  Call (843) 577-7183 or purchase online today!


(The cast in the “Springtime For Hitler” musical number.  You’ll die with laughter!)



(Brian Bogstad as Max Bialystock and Charleston Stage Resident Actor Andy McCain as Leo Bloom)