Entertainment

Strand Theater to feel ‘Fantasticks’ after renovations

By Steve Palisin

spalisin@thesunnews.com

This photo shows a look up at the marquee of the historic Strand Theater, on Front Street in Georgetown, where the Swamp Fox Players, after interior renovations since winter, will begin a new year of of shows on May 20 with “The Fantasticks.”
This photo shows a look up at the marquee of the historic Strand Theater, on Front Street in Georgetown, where the Swamp Fox Players, after interior renovations since winter, will begin a new year of of shows on May 20 with “The Fantasticks.” The Sun News file photo

The Strand Theater in downtown Georgetown will open the curtain on a new era this month after extensive renovations.

The Swamp Fox Players, which since the early 1980s has owned the historic building at 710 Front St., will usher in its new year of four shows starting with “The Fantasticks,” at 8 p.m. May 20, going through June 5.

Foy Ford, the theater manager, said the upgrades had been in the works for a year and a half, and the winter and spring afforded the time to carry out the plans. Besides replacing all the seats, room has been made for 232 chairs, an increase in capacity from 210.

The previous seats had been recycled from another venue and were not designed for this theater, Ford said., and “these new seats were specially made for us. ... These are really our seats.”

Other tasks that took time included raising and evening out the theater floor, also with a new coating on the concrete, and replacement of carpet “down the aisles.”

Ford said completing all parts of the project, “we were able to stay within the same blueprints.” The added seating complements the main level, not in the balcony, and “maximizes the space without losing comfort.”

The site, which Ford said was built in 1940 – 31 years before the Swamp Fox Players’ founding – has undergone several modifications in the past decade, Ford said. She said the lobby was changed, and an addition made in back with a green room.

With the theater seen as a landmark and part of downtown Georgetown’s identity, Ford said the Swamp Fox Players and its volunteer-driven company, including the play directors, remain thankful and “thrilled to have such a wonderful community” for support, “ to keep us going.”

Bob Gauss will direct “The Fantasticks,” which he praiased as “the longest running musical in the world.” He remembered performing in an adaptation in “the late 1960s-early ’70s” at a community theater in his Pennsylvania hometown, and said how this plot has no set and almost no costumes.

“Whatever you’re wearing,” he said, “that was it.”

However, for the run this month in Georgetown, this play also will tackle new turf, “with a full set,” including a house, tree and garden on stage, said Gauss, unaware of this approach undertaken anywhere.

“I’m just taking it to the next level,” he said. “Everybody who has ever done this show has done iwt without a set.”

Gauss, who counts this play his fifth directed for the Swamp Fox Players – along with “Dracula,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Love for Sale” and “Broadway’s Best” – said the excitement of “bringing arts to the people,” and seeing it on stage and “behind the scenes” has kept “me hooked.”

James Knight will play the lead role in “The Fantasticks,” as El Gallo, the narrator, and he likes this new take from its usual “bare bones” set-up on stage. This is his second play with the company, having worked with Gauss in 2014 in “Little Shop of Horrors.” Knight also said he peformed last month in Theatre of the Republic’s “The Boy from Oz,” at the Main Street Theatre in Conway.

Since watching “old MGM musicals” early in his childhood, Knight said, plays have held his heart for a lifetime love.

“My first time on stage,” he said, “I was 16, and in ‘The Crucible’ in high school.”

Theatre of the Republic seeing double

Speaking of Theatre of the Republic, another volunteer team enterprise, will conclude its 46th season, June 23-July 3, by performing “All Shook Up,” a musical comedy built around some Elvis Presley hits, has released its 2016-17 schedule.

It comprises two seasons: with musicals “Hello, Dolly!” Aug. 17-26, “Ghost the Musical” Oct. 19-30, “Holiday on Main Street: Be a Santa” Dec. 7-18, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical” Feb. 22-March 5, and “Evita” May 3-14; and an “Actors Playhouse” nonmusical slate, with “Ripcord” Sept. 9-18, “Twelve Angry Men” Nov. 4-13, “The Normal Heart” Jan. 6-15, “The Underpants” March 17-26, and “Clybourne Park” May 27-June 5.

Tim McGhee, Theatre of the Republic’s longtime executive/artistic director, said the new two-part scheduling also accommodates actors without an itch for singing or taking part in musicals.

Through the “Actors Playhouse,” McGhee said, those participants will engage in shows that “are not run-of-the-mill” productions, and with a mix of subjects, controversy and comedy. He said some nonmusical plays were once standard in each season, but that musicals became “everyone’s favorites.”

“Trying something new,” McGhee said, “we hope to get some new actors, as another way we’re trying to grow our database.”

Theatre of the Republic also has booked its annual gala to celebrate the end of of a season, and start of another, the Torry Awards, for July 22.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.

If you go

WHAT: “The Fantasticks”

WHO: Swamp Fox Players

WHEN:

▪ 8 p.m. May 20-21 and 26-28, and June 2-4.

▪ 2:30 p.m. May 29 and June 5.

WHERE: Newly renovated Strand Theater, 710 Front St., Georgetown.

HOW MUCH: $20.

ALSO:

▪ “Stephen2 The Music of Sondheim & Schwartz,” 8 p.m. July 15-16, 21-23 and 28-30; and 2:30 p.m. July 24 and 31. $20

▪ “The Fatal Fifties Affair,” 8 p.m. Sept. 9-10, 15-17 and 22-24; and 2:30 p.m. Sept. 18 and 25. $18.

▪ “And the Winner Is,” 8 p.m. Oct. 28-29, and Nov. 3-5 and 11-12; and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 6 and 13. $18.

AUDITIONS: Singers sought for “Stephen2 The Music of Sondheim & Schwartz” – Details at www.swampfoxplayers.com/auditions.htm, or email Gary Life, director, garyrlife@hotmail.com.

▪ 2-4 p.m. Saturday and 3-5 p.m. May 22 at Strand Theater.

▪ 7-9 p.m at First Presbyterian Church, 1300 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach – use through rear auditorium entrance.

‘STRAND CINEMA” – Series returns on Fridays-Saturdays for June 10-11 and 17-18, with these films, all from 2015: “Lady in the Van” (with Maggie Smith), “Room” (with Brie Larson), “Taxi Tehran” (with subtitles), and “Trumbo” (with Bryan Cranston) – each $5 members, otherwise $7 – and free on June 10 only. More details at www.strandcinema.org. To request titles for screenings: email haringbettina@yahoo.com; to volunteer to help guests at screenings: 843-237-8859, or email pvr0417@aol.com.

INFORMATION: 843-527-2924 or www.swampfoxplayers.com

Other local troupes’ performances

▪ Theatre of the Republic – “All Shook Up,” June 23-July 3 – 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays – at Main Street Theatre, 335 Main. St., Conway, for $23. Also, for 2016-17, two seasons, each with season and flex-ticket plans, with musicals –– each 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays – with “Hello, Dolly!” Aug. 17-26, “Ghost the Musical” Oct. 19-30, “Holiday on Main Street: Be a Santa” Dec. 7-18, “Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical” Feb. 22-March 5, and “Evita” May 3-14; and “Actors Playhouse” nonmusical slate – each 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays – “Ripcord” Sept. 9-18, “Twelve Angry Men” Nov. 4-13, “The Normal Heart” Jan. 6-15, “The Underpants” March 17-26, and “Clybourne Park” May 27-June 5. 843-488-0821 or www.theatreoftherepublic.com.

▪ Brunswick Little Theatre’s “That’s Entertainment II,” 2 p.m. Sunday at 8068 River Road S.E., Southport, N.C., for $10 at door. Also: “Stop Kiss,” June 17-26 and “Musical of Musicals,” July 29-31 and Aug. 5-7 – each 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, and each $20, or $12 students with ID. 910-447-2586 or www.brunswicklittletheatre.com.

▪ Stage Left Theatre Company’s season finale, “Dixie Swim Club,” June 2-19 – 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays – at Stage Left, 3064 DeVille St., Myrtle Beach, in The Market Common, between Nevers and Lewis streets, next to Coastal Dance Centre. $18 general admission; $15 active-duty military, veterans and students. 843-232-0339 or www.stagelefttheatremb.com.

▪ Atlantic Stage’s season closer, “Sea Marks,” June 10-July 3 – 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays – at company’s new site, in Myrtle Beach Mall, at U.S. 17 and S.C. 22, near Briarcliffe Acres, and next door to Bath and Body Works, near Bass Pro Shops, and across from Carolina Improv Company’s Uptown Theater. $27.50 general, $22.50 ages 55 and older/educators/military,and $17.50 students, including Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. 877-287-8587 or www.atlanticstage.com.

▪ Murrells Inlet Community Theatre’s “Geriatric Monologues” world premiere, June 17-26 – 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays – at Murrells Inlet Community Center, 4462 Murrells Inlet Road, south of Bellamy Avenue and U.S. Post Office. $15. 843-651-4152 or www.mictheatre.com.

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