It’s not often that a fund-raiser can be tailored to a theater production, but the first night of What If? Production’s musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” is perfect when paired with the Charleston Horticultural Society.

What If? presentations are known to be on the sassy, grown-up side, so benefactors who love plants will find the tale of the man-eating plant and its erstwhile humans irresistible.

This was a great movie when it came out, starring Steve Martin, and it includes Broadway songs, so it’s a lot of fun in a sadistic sort of way.

Heading up the cast is local theater star Brian Porter, who plays the role of sweet loser Seymour, who rises to notoriety when he raises a man-eating plant (Audrey II) that ends up biting off a lot more than Seymour can chew.

Joining Porter on stage as the abused and downtrodden Audrey is Mary Fishburne. She and Porter will take on such recognizable songs such “Somewhere That’s Green,” “Skid Row” and of course the ever popular “Suddenly Seymour.”

Anyone can go to the fundraiser at 7 p.m. Thursday, where all proceeds go to the Charleston Horticultural Society. Tickets are $100 and include a preshow cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour and a strange and unusual plant silent auction, courtesy of Hyams Garden Center.

If you want to go that night, call the horticultural office at 579-9922 or go online at

Regular show tickets for the other dates are $28 for adults and $20 for students and are available at

Shows are at 8 p.m. Jan. 25, 26 and 31, and Feb. 1 and 2, and 7 p.m. Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. All shows are at the American Theater, 446 King St.

Collector’s tour

It’s not often that you can tour a collection with the two minds who created it. That’s why it will be a treat to go around the Gibbes Museum of Art with artist Jonathan Green and his partner and studio director, Richard Weedman.

They will lead a tour of the exhibition “Vibrant Vision: The Collection of Jonathan Green and Richard Weedman.” Over the past 35 years, they have amassed a collection of paintings, sculpture and works on paper, with some important ones from the Works Progress Administration era of the 1930s and ’40s, as represented by William H. Johnson and Charles White, among others.

The exhibition features works by artists of African-American, Caribbean, Latin American and American descent that reflect the diverse cultural influences that have shaped American art.

Reflecting this diversity, “Vibrant Vision” includes works created in a variety of styles and explores the themes of work, love, belonging and spirituality.

There is a series of these guided tours, with the first one at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Other dates are Feb. 21, March 14 and April 18. The tours are free with museum admission. The Gibbes Museum is at 135 Meeting St.

‘Le Nozze di Figaro’

If you have never been to an opera before, “The Marriage of Figaro” is one to see. It’s funny, for one thing. There are many schemes, masquerades and laugh-out-loud mistaken identities.

Here’s a little of the plot: The infamous Figaro, his bride-to-be, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to expose and embarrass the cunning, skirt-chasing Count. There’s also a randy pageboy, Cherubino, in the mix.

Mozart was appealing to a world where everything had to happen on stage, and this remains an audience favorite for good reason.

This is a recital production, which means it’s without costumes and sets, but that’s never an issue with “Figaro.” It’s just delightful.

The College of Charleston’s opera program presents “Le Nozze di Figaro” with some help from the College of Charleston Orchestra.

Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday and Jan. 28 in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 St. Philip St. Tickets may be purchased online at or at the door: $20 for adults, $10 for College of Charleston students with a valid ID.

Art conservation

A running joke about our city is that we worship our ancestors, but mostly it’s true when it comes to preserving the classic pieces of artwork and architecture amassed by some early, and very wealthy, residents.

That’s why it’s nice to know that Harold Bowen is looking out for a life-size painting of his great-great-grandmother, Harriet Aiken, the wife of Gov. William Aiken.

The portrait of Harriet Lowndes Aiken by George Whiting Flagg, long admired by visitors to the Aiken-Rhett House Museum at 8 Elizabeth St., was in need of cleaning and documentation, which was funded by Bowen and done at the Warren Lasch Conservation Lab last year.

Conservators and scientists studied it using the most current scientific equipment and imaging systems, including X-ray and 3-D imaging.

The frame was improved, and the colors of the painting were brought back to life. Old paintings can develop a dinginess that can be removed by careful conservation.

It was returned back to its rightful place in the house last month, and conservators found the exact spot in the art gallery of the home where the painting originally hung. Luckily, it is in the only room that is now climate-controlled, so further damage to the painting can be minimized.

These kinds of important projects facilitated by the Historic Charleston Foundation help set our city apart from so many where ancestors are relegated to back rooms or museum sets.

So, yes, we do worship our ancestors here, and we are proud of it.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or