Jazz Week kicks off with special events

Charlton P. Singleton, Charleston Jazz Orchestra conductor and artistic director for the Jazz Artists of Charleston, will be leading the band on the South Carolina Hit Parade.

Some very Charleston events are on tap for this week. The Jazz Artists of Charleston has its annual Jazz Week, a noted playwright's new production will be staged at the College of Charleston and Village Playhouse stages its last production in Mount Pleasant before it moves to downtown Charleston.

Last year, the Jazz Artists of Charleston put together a full week of events that was warmly received by many in our community.

This year, there are trios, a special chamber ensemble, a photography exhibit and the South Carolina Hit Parade, a formal affair at Memminger Auditorium.

On Monday, Tommy Gill will present portions of his extended arrangement of George Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue in Green,” first presented and performed by the Charleston Jazz Orchestra at the Conductor's Choice in May 2010. He will be joined by CJO's bandleader and JAC's artistic director, trumpeter Charlton Singleton, along with CJO musician and JAC board member tenor saxophonist Mark Sterbank.

On Tuesday, there will be an intimate performance by Pulse Trio set against the behind-the-scenes photographs, collectible posters and artwork from JAC's archive.

It's a chance to meet the artists and see the visual history of the last four years of jazz in Charleston.

Wednesday is another performance of “Rhapsody in Blue in Green” and Thursday is the big night with the South Carolina Hit Parade. That will feature the debut of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra Chamber Ensemble.

It's a return to the beginnings of CJO and a tribute to Jack McCray, one of the founding members and former Post and Courier jazz writer, who died last year. This is the big fundraiser for spring, and it's a chance for a true Charleston evening.

Take a friend, spend some money at the silent auction and kick back to listen with some champagne. You won't be disappointed.

It's great to see students in the theater department at the College of Charleston have an opportunity to work with an award-winning playwright who has been finishing a major play and using the students as part of her inspiration.

Guest playwright Arlene Hutton has written “Letters to Sala” based on the book “Sala's Gift.”

It's the story about Sala Garncarz Kirschner, who kept a secret from her family for 50 years. On the eve of heart surgery, she gave her daughter 350 letters and photographs that she had protected for five brutal years as a prisoner in seven Nazi forced-labor camps. They are heart wrenching expressions of longing, love and hope.

Hutton has been developing “Letters to Sala” for several years with longtime collaborator Eric Nightengale, who serves as the guest director.

Hutton, who received a Drama League nomination for “Last Train to Nibroc,” has been able to develop the play with a cast of nearly 30 student actors, some of whom Hutton has written special moments for. The play has a larger cast than many of the Off-Broadway productions for whom Hutton usually writes, and she says this collaboration has allowed her to create the play she envisioned.

The play will open Saturday and close on Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 19. The production will take place in the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 St. Philip St.

Curtain times are 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. next Sunday, and 7:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

Tickets may be purchased at the box office or by calling 953-5604. Tickets are $15.

There also will be a Talkback and reception with the cast and crew following the performance on opening night.

At 11:30 a.m. April 15, curator Jill Vexler, Hutton and Ann Kirschner, the daughter of Sala, will discuss the genesis of the project in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 St. Philip St. That program is free.

The final play for this season at The Village Playhouse and Repertory Co. is the South Carolina premiere of “God of Carnage,” which is 90 minutes of sustained mayhem.

It starts out with two couples meeting over a playground fight between their two sons. The meeting quickly degenerates as the four spiral into irrational arguments about the loaded topics of misogyny, racial prejudice and homophobia.

The New York Times described the Tony-winning play as a “four-way prize fight.”

This production stars Cristy Landis, Josh Wilhoit, Dave Reinwald and Keely Enright. It starts at 8 p.m. Friday at The Village Playhouse, 730 Coleman Blvd., Mount Pleasant, and runs through May 5. Tickets are $20-$27 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 856-1579 or by visiting www.villageplayhouse.com.

It is the last play after 11 years in this location. The company is moving to 34 Woolfe St. in downtown Charleston. Its fall season will open Oct. 5.

Reach Stephanie Harvin at 937-5557 or sharvin@postandcourier.com.