A recent letter writer gave a critique of Spoleto Festival USA, so I’d like to critique Piccolo Spoleto.
I attended eight events, mostly theater, though there were over 35 things one could do every single day. All eight were well-attended and most were packed. Seven got enthusiastic standing ovations.
I attended two at PURE Theater, starting with “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” in which PURE co-founder Rodney Lee Rogers portrayed the great 19th century tragedian Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth.
PURE co-founder Sharon Graci, in “Testament of Mary,” showed us what a loving mother had to have felt as her beloved child’s hands and feet were nailed to a cross.
I saw three performances at Footlight Players Theater. “Mark Twain’s Final Tour” featured Stan Gill dressed as an older Mark Twain, who kept us laughing or deeply touched. “Pirates! The Revenge of Col. Rhett” was colorful with great appeal to children. “The Last Five Years” was magnificently sung by a young man and woman in love but facing the demands of career ambition. The entire story was told in song, back and forth, with him alone on stage singing about her, and her alone singing about him.
“Charleston, the Musical,” a cabaret-style event at the intimate Charleston Performing Arts Center on James Island, hit the mark in portraying Charleston in the 1880s after the devastating war and Reconstruction. Blacks and whites together faced poverty, hurricanes and an earthquake but came through to the Charleston Renaissance of the 1920s to the dance the Charleston. The porch-of-a-single-house setting, the glitzy costumes and singing and dancing told this story well, and we were served by lovely “tootsies” in period dress to keep us in the Roaring Twenties.
“Moscow Nights” featured three fabulous Russian musicians with unique instruments who were ambassadors of good will from their country. The accordion-dominated music was exciting at the beautiful City Art Gallery at Waterfront Park.
“Reformed Whores” at Theater 99, part of Piccolo Spoleto Fringe, was hilarious and sexy though a tad raunchy, which added to its kitschy charm.
GENE KIZER JR.