It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since the North Charleston Coliseum opened its doors.

At the time, it was the culmination of former North Charleston Mayor John Bourne's quest to have the largest performing arts venue in the area, and he had been through years of wrangling to get it built. Some nicknamed it the John Bourne Dome.

Now, of course, we wonder what all the fuss was about. Since the 13,000-seat facility opened, the Lowcountry has seen 2,075 events there with 7,902,368 people in attendance.

The biggest event for a group was 16 shows by Widespread Panic that sold 89,366 tickets. The top-selling single concert was for Billy Joel in 1994 with 12,697 tickets.

OK, so those are impressive numbers, but here's some of my favorites: There have been 596,600 hot dogs, 370,000 jumbo pretzels and 343,650 pounds of french fries sold. Now we know what is the Lowcountry's meal at this home away from home.

What would we have done without the dome?

'Our Town'

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play about warmth, joy and sorrow of life, love and death continues to entertain and enthrall.

“Our Town” is a place where milk is delivered every morning, everyone knows everyone else's business and we get to explore each person's journey, everyday life, marriage and death.

The story is deceptively straightforward. It depicts the lives of the neighboring Webb and Gibbs families and other inhabitants of the small New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners. We follow members of the two families as they go about their daily lives, fall in love, marry and die. But the play is far from simple. Characters move easily between the past and present, and between the living and the dead. The dead talk to each other.

It's a heartwarming script, but it uses the unusual device of letting the audience know they are watching a play, sort of a theatrical version of “The Truman Show.”

The Footlight Players will present it at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Feb. 7-9 and 14-16; and at 3 p.m. Feb. 10 and 17 at the Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors/military, and $15 for students.

Tickets can be purchased at or 722-4487.

Goose Creek artists

New works by members of the Goose Creek Artists Guild will be on exhibit at the North Charleston City Gallery starting Friday and running during February. This is the guild's 30th anniversary show and will feature works in a variety of media. The guest juror is Alice Grimsley.

A free reception will be 2-4 p.m. Feb. 9 at the gallery, 5001 Coliseum Drive. Many of the exhibiting artists will be present, and refreshments will be served.

The artists guild meets monthly for live demonstrations and business to further its purpose “to bring together a group of artists interested in self-improvement, public recognition and the promotion of the arts in the community.”

Call guild President Muriel Lanciault at 486-6328.

Kids teaching kids

The Charleston Academy of Music will hold a Kidzymphony Orchestra workshop Thursday at Westview Primary School.

Third-grade students and instructors from CAM's Kidzymphony Orchestra Program will perform and provide hands-on instruction to Westview's second-graders.

Selected second-graders from Westview will be introduced to the instruments (violin, viola, and cello) and have the opportunity to try each. Westview students will not only receive instruction from the Kidzymphony teachers, but interact with Kidzymphony students as well.

The workshop is part of CAM's efforts to reach out to other local schools and a great way of passing along knowledge, one student to the next.

Fifth anniversary

The CSO Spiritual Ensemble, a 35-member vocal group focusing on traditional African-American spirituals, will celebrate its fifth anniversary and honor Black History Month on Saturday with the performance “No Trouble at the River: The Perilous Story of The Underground Railroad.”

The event will take place at 5 p.m. at Centenary United Methodist Church, 60 Wentworth St., downtown Charleston.

Director David A. Richardson will lead the ensemble in a tribute to the escape network of fugitive slaves known as the Underground Railroad, which was formed in the early 19th century and consisted of meeting points, secret routes, transportation and safe houses provided by abolitionist sympathizers.

Escaped slaves would move north along the route from one way station to the next. “Conductors” on the railroad came from various backgrounds and included free-born blacks, white abolitionists and former slaves themselves.

Spirituals and other songs helped express hope for deliverance from their sorrows, and the ensemble's performance will offer a number of musical selections, including “No Trouble at the River,” “Pie Jesu,” an ode to those who lost their lives running for freedom, “Deep River” and “Keep Your Lamps” among others.

“As a child, I learned the importance of the invisible railroad and its significance in liberating my ancestors,” Richardson says. “So our February offering honoring the history of African-Americans resonates as my favorite performance.”

Tickets are $20 adults; children or students $10 with ID. They can be purchased at, 866-811-4111 or at the door, cash or check only, up to one hour before the performance.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or