August 14, 2014

Stage Left set for second season at The Market Common

Stage Left Theatre Company is set to spring into its second year at The Market Common as summer soon gives way to autumn.

Stage Left Theatre Company is set to spring into its second year at The Market Common as summer soon gives way to autumn.

The troupe, which started in 2009-10, will open its 2014-15 season of plays for three weekends with “Southern Comforts,” about a widow from Tennessee and widower from New York whose hearts cross paths. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through Aug. 31 at the company’s custom-made, black box theater, 3064 DeVille St., Myrtle Beach, between Nevers and Lewis streets, next to Coastal Dance Centre.

Amber McCann, Stage Left’s artistic director, called the theater’s debut season in its new home — with “Steel Magnolias,” “Wait Until Dark,” “Sorry! Wrong Chimney!” “Barefoot in the Park” and “The Fantasticks” — “a very good year ... very well-received.”

McCann said a number of season tickets, which for $80 each saves $10 overall, already have been sold. She said kind words from patrons who came back for each show last year — voicing compliments such as, “You’re doing great; keep up the great work,” and “You’re the pride of The Market Common and the jewel of Myrtle Beach,” fueled enthusiasm for season ticket growth.

Looking back at the past year, McCann said having a Christmas show in the mix fit with the mold because of it being comical and helping folks in general “deal with the stress of the holidays.” So, “You Better Watch Out!” will play out Dec. 4-21.

‘Something for everyone’

Keeping variety up all season long remains key.

“We try to have a little something for everyone,” McCann said. “For someone who likes a good drama, we have one. For those who like to laugh, we have several of those.”

The latter includes “Elvis Has Left the Building,” May 28-June 14, set in 1970, when the King of Rock ’n’ Roll goes missing.

“Dollhouse,” Oct. 2-18, fills the very serious part of the repertoire, McCann said, describing “Southern Comforts” and “Love Letters,” Jan. 29-Feb. 15, as “two romantic comedies that have a lot of drama.”

McCann said last season, matinee shows, which will remain at 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, were “usually the first ones to fill up,” and that people who come to shows often dine out nearby before or after a show on weekends, such as for “date nights.”

Theater personnel also noticed that, especially for comedies, “we see a lot of women” turn out in groups, McCann said, for a “girls’ night out.”

Stage Left’s audience capacity has expanded by 10 seats to 53 for this season, said McCann, crediting a whole community that helps stage each show and all the work behind the scenes and curtain. She saluted a volunteer, Lora Watson, who doubles up on duties, such as running concession sales during shows and helping keep the theater clean.

“I could not do it without her,” McCann said. “She wears many hats. I call her my volunteer extraordinaire.”

Play selection for each season gets under way “easily a year ahead,” said McCann, summing up this season’s kickoff with “Southern Comforts”: “Everybody will like some part of the show. It has drama, comedy and deep emotion.”

‘A hit with locals’

Jan Connell, who manages tenant relations at The Market Common, said Stage Left has been “such a hit with locals,” and that “more tourists are starting to discover” the troupe.

“It’s a great way to introduce your family to live theater,” she said, lauding Stage Left’s acoustics, intimacy and “high-quality production.”

McCann’s dedication also impresses Connell.

“She lives, eats and breathes that theater,” said Connell, who named “The Fantasticks” among her favorites last season, along with “Steel Magnolias.”

Connell said “to have that much local talent” on display in Stage Left’s corner of The Market Common, and “to have small, local theater like we have here is almost unheard of these days.”

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