'Penelope' bares almost all

A piece from renowned fashion photographer Sebastian Smith.

If you've spent much of 2013 feeling like you need something a little more "out there," a little more provocative perhaps, Pure Theatre is responding to your desires with a hilarious play featuring several of their core members wearing nothing but speedos.

Not exactly what you had envisioned?

You're going to laugh your pants off.

Enda Walsh's "Penelope" is a spoof on Homer's "Odyssey" and the Greek myth of Penelope and Odysseus and the men that try to woo Penelope while Odysseus is away at war.

Of course, the suitors are in speedos in an empty swimming pool.

Pure Theatre artistic director and core ensemble member Sharon Graci is the director of this production and gives us a synopsis:

"As Penelope awaits the return of Odysseus from the Trojan Wars, four speedo-clad suitors, Fitz, Burns, Dunne and Quinn, vie to woo her away from the great man. The men peddle their seduction from an empty swimming pool; going about their daily lives with only Burns seemingly at odds with his environment. There is a bloodstain of another fallen suitor on the wall that Burns attempts to scrub away to no avail and a barbecue that won't light stands toward the rear of the pool. In a shared dream they have seen the barbecue lighting, heralding their death at the hands of Odysseus, and setting a ticking clock to our intrepid lad's amorous pursuits.

"Penelope, separated from the men, stands above and unseen from the pool. A television screen relays the successive addresses by the men for her perusal in a contemporaneous nod to reality television formats. Each man hopes to win her affections through his monologue. But as the day wears on, signs and premonitions of Odysseus' return grow more ominous and they formulate a plan to work together in order that one of them may succeed in winning Penelope, thus saving the others from Odysseus' revenge," Graci goes on to say.

"As an ensemble-based company, we have the excellent fortune of getting to know and trust one another as theater artists, because we've been together so long as a company. There's very little formality to our interactions, which is a really great thing, especially in a play like 'Penelope,' because the actors aren't wearing much," laughs Graci. "There's no need to break the ice."

Expect to see these local Pure core members in their swimwear: Michael Smallwood as Burns, Rodney Lee Rogers as Fitz, R.W. Smith as Dunne and David Mandel as Quinn. Penelope will be played by Anna Royal.

Graci also has lots of praise for writer Walsh and says, "He has an amazing ability to blend everyday normalcy with mythology, wrapping it all up in incredible storytelling."

"Penelope" runs through Jan. 18. Tickets for Thursday night and Saturday matinee shows are $18, Friday night shows are $27 and Saturday night shows are $30. There are also $15 student rush tickets available 15 minutes prior to show with valid ID. Advance ticket purchases are strongly recommended.

Pure is at 477 King St. Find out more by calling 723-4444 or online at www.puretheatre.org.

Earlier this year, local actress and singer Mary Fishburne and the Village Repertory Co. put on a show called "The Girl Singer." It was so popular that they have decided to put on a holiday version, which will run for two weekends only, Friday-Jan. 5, at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.

Fishburne will bring to life five "singing sirens" of the 20th century in an evening of musical story telling.

Conceived and directed by Keely Enright with musical direction by Emmanuel Houston, "The Girl Singer" pays homage to female singers of a bygone era, one's who really defined those times in history.

Enright describes it as an experience from "Vaudeville to swing to the big band era and beyond," featuring songs originally done by Judy Garland, Doris Day, Betty Hutton, Rosemary Clooney and Peggy Lee.

"Each vocalist made an important contribution to the music of the 20th century and this production celebrates their lives and the hits they made great including 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,' 'Get Happy,' 'The Man that Got Away,' 'Que Sera, Sera,' 'Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered,' 'Hey There,' 'White Christmas Fever' and many more," says Enright.

The Woolfe Street Playhouse is at 34 Woolfe St. To find out more, call 856-1579 or go to www.woolfestreetplayhouse.com.

World-renowned fashion photographer Sebastian Smith has recently landed in Charleston and is excited to be showing his high-end, sexy photos as part of the VIP section of the Rose Ball on New Year's Eve (see our cover story on Pages 16-19 for details on the Rose Ball and other New Year's events).

For the event, Smith's photos will be transformed into massive projections at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium and will create a classy, yet sexy, atmosphere.

More of Smith's work can be seen at www.sebastiansmithphoto.com.