Less than a week after concluding a season of Christmas shows, the Calvin Gilmore Theater in Myrtle Beach is pulling many changes out of its stocking for a new year of shows starting later this month.
When “The Carolina Opry” begins its 28th year on Jan. 29, and “The Good Vibrations Show” starts Feb. 4, patrons will see productions start earlier, at 7 p.m., recline in all-new seating, and see a cast that includes two additions: Bibis Ellison, a soulstress from North Carolina, and Colton Cason, a trumpet-playing crooner, fresh off his debut in Gilmore’s theater from “The Carolina Opry Christmas Special,” which ended Jan. 5.
Jordan Watkins, director of marketing for the theater, said Ellison “has a phenomenal voice” that she showed during a handful of Opry Christmas shows and will step up for her inaugural season all year.
The All That! clog-dancing troupe, which marched and performed Nov. 28 in the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and has competed in two seasons of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” also will return for 2014, among the cast of 35 performers.
Reflecting on this past Turkey Day, Watkins said the whole theater family was “all watching and waiting” to see All That! turn up on the NBC broadcast, at about 10:30 that morning.
Moving up the start time for “Opry” and “Good Vibrations” shows to 7 p.m. from 7:30 to match that of the Christmas season production “makes it easier for all of our logistics,” Watkins said, noting the shows the rest of the year had been 8 p.m. for many years until 2013.
Watkins said surveying among customers showed that the 7 p.m. slot was favored, and that with other third-party ticket sellers also in the mix, having all the shows aligned for curtain up at 7 p.m. year round works best for everyone, including the cast and audiences.
The seats in the auditorium have been fixtures since the company opened at the site in 1992, after moving north from Surfside Beach, Watkins said. Besides rocking backs and drink holders, the new plush seats are a tad wider, with “a little more legroom” in between each, she said, also previewing something to observe from each chair, a “new LED backdrop” on stage.
All the changes and improvements are part of giving patrons “a better experience all around,” Watkins said, and that this brief down time after Christmas works perfectly “especially in this time of year, when the cast is off.”