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Conroy Center welcomes Handler, The Magnetic Girl

in Arts

The Pat Conroy Literary Center will host author Jessica Handler for a reading and discussion of her debut novel The Magnetic Girl at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 5:30 p.m. 

Handler learned creative writing from the late Pat Conroy when he served as a guest instructor at the Paideia School in Atlanta, just prior to the publication of his first novel, The Great Santini. Handler, the author of two memoirs, published her debut novel The Magnetic Girl in April of this year. 

The nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center, located at 905 Port Republic Street, will host Handler for a reading and discussion of her novel. 

Free and open to the public, the discussion will be followed by a book signing.

The Magnetic Girl has been named one of Wall Street Journal’s Ten Books You’ll Want to Read this Spring, an Indie Next Pick, and a Spring Okra Pick of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. 

Set in rural north Georgia two decades after the Civil War, the novel follows 13-year-old Lulu Hurst. Lulu reaches high into her father’s bookshelf and pulls out an obscure book, The Truth of Mesmeric Influence. 

Deemed gangly and undesirable, Lulu wants more than a lifetime of caring for her disabled baby brother, Leo, with whom she shares a profound and supernatural mental connection.

Lulu begins to “captivate” her friends and family, controlling their thoughts and actions for brief moments at a time. After Lulu convinces a cousin she conducts electricity with her touch, her father sees a unique opportunity. He grooms his tall and indelicate daughter into an electrifying new woman: The Magnetic Girl. 

Lulu travels the Eastern seaboard, captivating enthusiastic crowds by lifting grown men in parlor chairs and throwing them across the stage with her “electrical charge.”

The Magnetic Girl is set at a time when the emerging presence of electricity raised suspicions about the other-worldly gospel of Spiritualism, and when women’s desire for political, cultural, and sexual presence electrified the country. The Magnetic Girl is a unique portrait of a forgotten period in history, seen through the story of one young woman’s power over her family, her community, and ultimately, herself.

To learn more about the Conroy Center, please visit www.patconroyliterarycenter.org. 

Arts Briefs

in Arts

Moon Over Buffalo auditions

There will be auditions for the Coastal Stage production of Moon Over Buffalo at 7 p.m. June 17-18 at 100 Sea Island Pkwy in Beaufort.

The play will be performed Aug. 16 -25 by Coastal Stage at AMVETS at 1831 Ribaut Rd. in Port Royal.

The director has chosen to make summer rehearsal schedules flexible and will coordinate with pre-arranged vacation and out-of-town holiday time. For more information and role descriptions, visit www.coastalstage.com/get-involved.

Lowcountry Wind Symphony honors Beaufort graduate

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Beaufort High School senior Cecilia Wright was presented with a $1,000 check at the Lowcountry Wind Symphony’s recent spring concert, “European Treasures,” at Sea Island Presbyterian Church. 

The gift from the LWS board and Hamner Music Company is in honor of Wright’s two-year commitment to the French horn section of LWS and will go toward her college expenses as she begins a degree program in Music Education at Western Carolina University in September. 

One of the missions of the Lowcountry Wind Symphony is to support and encourage young musicians. It is finalizing plans for a music scholarship program that will allow Beaufort County School District music students who are accepted at a school of music for their academic studies to apply for financial consideration. 

In addition to her skills as a French horn player, Wright served as pianist for the Beaufort High School musicals for the past three years. She is an honor student, being selected for both the French National Honor Society and the National Honor Society at Beaufort High School. 

She plays in the Honor Band at Beaufort and served as Brass Section Captain of the Marching Band, and Concertmaster of the Honor Band. 

Since January, Wright has studied music theory and harmony, and begun to explore conducting with LWS Music Director Donald F. Jemella. 

Talented high school students and adults are welcome to join LWS, depending on the instrumentation needs of the percussion, brass or wind sections. For more information about LWS, or the Lowcountry Youth Wind Symphony, contact Donald F. Jemella at 917-439-0244 or Bobbi Logan at 843-705-3289 or visit www.lowcountrywindsymphony.com. 

USCB Center For The Arts adds National Theatre Live

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The USC Beaufort Center for the Arts has announced the addition of National Theatre Live to its lineup.

National Theatre Live brings the best of British theater to cinema screens all over the world.

“With state-of-the-art filming techniques, tailored to every play, we bring you each performance as it happens, in all it’s glory,” says the National Theatre Live release. “From close-ups that capture every flicker of emotion, to sweeping wide shots of the stage. Whether you come along to the live broadcast, or catch one of many replays, you’ll have the best seats in the house.

“You’ll also be part of something much bigger. There will be thousands of others all around the world watching along with you. Sharing every gasp, every laugh, every dramatic moment. This is theatre for everyone.”

The lineup additions opened with King Lear over Memorial Day weekend. The rest of the schedule is as follows:

June 2: 42nd Street, The Musical, 3 p.m., Sunday

June 30: The Audience, 3 p.m., Sunday – Helen Mirren reprises her Oscar-winning performance on the stage.

July 7: Small Island, 3 p.m., Sunday – An adaptation of Andrea Levy’s Windrush novel.

July 21: Hamlet, 3 p.m., Sunday – Benedict Cumberbatch plays the title role in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

All tickets are $18. They can be purchased online at uscbcenterforthearts.com, by phone at 843-521-4145 or at the door. Concessions will be serving red and white wine, bottled water and sodas.

Piccolo Spoleto brings Early Music to Beaufort

in Arts

Three Piccolo Spoleto concerts of Early Music will be performed in Beaufort over the next three weeks. 

Saturday, May 25, The Virtuoso Spanish Guitar Through the Ages: 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1201 North Street, Beaufort, $25, cash or check only at the door.

Award-winning guitarist Marco Sartor takes us on a musical journey illustrating the genius of Spanish guitar. This program covers four centuries of masterpieces, including iconic works by Fernando Sor, Francisco Tarrega, Isaac Albeniz and others. 

Sunday, June 2, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: 3 p.m. Baptist Church of Beaufort, 601 Charles Street, $25 cash or check only at the door. 

Featuring one of the most monumental works of all time, Charleston Baroque, an ensemble including members of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, presents these four concertos, each representing a season.

Sunday, June 9, The Virtuoso Recorder with Steve Rosenberg: 3 p.m. at the Verdier House, 801 Beaufort, $25, cash or check only at the door (limited seating).

This unique program features music for the recorder and harpsichord. Performer Steve Rosenberg covers music from the medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque eras accompanied by Julia Harlow on harpsichord. 

Street Music on Paris Avenue returns

in Arts/Community

The 12th year of Street Music on Paris Avenue kicked off Saturday, May 11 with the band Yarn from New York playing to a couple hundred people who gathered between 9th and 10th streets to listen under perfect conditions.

The next Street Music date is May 11, when soul and R&B artist Annika Chambers takes the stage.

Black Cat Zydeco featuring Dwight Carrier comes to town June 8, followed by blues artist EG Knight on June 22.

Admission is free. Bring your chairs and your dancing shoes.

The band Yarn kicked off the 12th year of Street Music on Paris Avenue on Saturday, May 11. From left are lead guitarist Roderick Hohl, Blake Christiana playing acoustic guitar, Robert Bonhoma on drums and Rick Bagel on bass. Photo by Bob Sofaly

Conroy Center to host readings by two southern authors

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The Pat Conroy Literary Center will host two free public events featuring visiting southern writers George Singleton and Roberts Hicks on Tuesday, May 28, and Thursday, May 30, respectively. The author events will begin at 5:30 p.m. and be held in the Conroy Center at 905 Port Republic Street, Beaufort. 

Books will be available for sale and signing. 

Singleton has published seven collections of stories (most recently Staff Picks), two novels, and a book of writing advice. More than 200 of his stories have appeared in magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Playboy, the Georgia Review, the Southern Review, the Cincinnati Review, and elsewhere. 

A 2010 Inductee to the S.C. Academy of Authors, he is also the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, the Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Corrington Award for Literary Excellence. Singleton lives in Spartanburg, where he holds the John C. Cobb Chair in Humanities at Wofford College.

Staff Picks provides a loosely linked baker’s dozen of stories set in small, often-floundering towns.In turns both comic and tragic, Singleton shows characters trying to make sense out of the Old South, the New South, and the New New South in all their ragged glory.

Hicks is the New York Times best-selling author of the historical novels The Widow of the South, The Orphan Mother, and A Separate Country. Blues legend B.B. King gave Hicks his favorite title: “Curator of Vibe.” 

Named No. 2 in the most recent listing of the top 100 Reasons to Love Nashville by Nashville Lifestyles magazine, Hicks was described as Nashville’s “Master of Ceremonies.” A lifelong collector, Hicks was the first Tennessean to be listed among Arts & Antiques’ Top 100 Collectors in America—his collection focuses on outsider art and southern material culture. 

He served as curator on the exhibition, Art of Tennessee, at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. Hicks is founding chairman of Franklin’s Charge: A Vision and Campaign for the Preservation of Historic Open Space in the fight to secure and preserve the historic battlefield in Williamson County.

In December 2005, the Nashville Tennessean named him Tennessean of the Year for the impact his best-selling novel The Widow of the South has had on Tennessee heritage tourism and preservation. 

In the October 2014, he introduced his Battlefield Bourbon, a very small batch, Tennessee-made, aged and hand-bottled bourbon whiskey. With this, the Tennessean gave Hicks his other favorite title: “Whiskey Preservationist.” He is also the host of the annual Seriously Seersucker, the largest seersucker party in the world.
Singleton and Hicks will each appear on Season 2 of SCETV’s By The River author interview program, which films in Beaufort. 

The Conroy Center is located at 905 Port Republic Street in Beaufort and is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. To learn more about the educational programs offered through the Conroy Center, please visit www.patconroyliterarycenter.org.

Arts Briefs

in Arts

Bus Stop coming to AmVets

Coastal Stage Productions is bringing its production of Bus Stop to AmVets on 1831 Ribaut Road in Port Royal.

The group will hold evening performances at 8 p.m. May 24, 25, 31 and June 1, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday matinees May 26 and June 2.

Advanced reserved seats are $25, while groups of 10 or more get reserved seats at $22. Student seats are $15. Tickets at the door are $27.

Tickets are available by calling the local box office at 843-717-2175 or buying online at https://busstopportroyal.bpt.me/.

Reserved seats are $5 off for the May 25 show if you use the code SAVE5 at CoastalStage.com.

Lowcountry Chorale’s spring concert is ‘A Night At The Drive-in’

The Lowcountry Chorale announced its upcoming spring concert “A Night At The Drive-in,” which will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17 and 3 p.m. May 18 at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Lady’s Island.

Music director Jordan Norris Plair and accompanist Gloria Bockelman will lead the Chorale through songs from movies we used to watch at drive-in theaters, including a complimentary bag of popcorn.

The Lowcountry Chorale is comprised of local area singers who love music and singing.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For more information, call Marsha Oakes at 207-323-1498.

Auditions set for Spamalot

USC Beaufort’s Center For The Arts and the Beaufort Theater Company announce auditions for “Monty Python’s Spamalot, a new musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

The “Spamalot” auditions will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday May 21 and Tuesday, May 22 at the USCB Center For The Arts at 801 Carteret Street. The cast calls for six male singers, seven female singers and a chorus. There are several non-singing roles available, as well.

Auditioners should bring a non-returnable photo of themselves and prepare a portion of a showtune that best showcases their voice. Bring tracks or be prepared to sing a-capella.

Arrive 15 minutes early to complete paperwork and pick up sides to read for audition. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes you can dance in. No sandals.

The process includes a musical audition, a short dance number and then reading preselected parts of the script.

“Spamalot” will be performed Sept. 21, 22 and 27-29.


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“Dialogues of the Carmelites” ends Met Opera HD series

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By Alan Schuster

And now she’s back, this time on stage – believe it or not – in the starkly dissimilar role of a nun in the Met’s HD season finale of Francis Poulenc’s “Dialogues des Carmelites.” 

Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, memorable for her Nov. 2018 Met performance as a deceitful thief in the title role of “Marnie,” is one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today. 

It’s also a terrifying finale for 16 nuns, who are beheaded one by one – and amplified by swishes of the guillotine – for refusing to renounce their vocation.

Summary: The opera begins during the French Revolution. To escape the violence enacted on members of the aristocracy, Blanche de la Force forsakes the outside world and joins a Carmelite monastery. 

The Mother Superior corrects her way of thinking; the monastery cannot protect her, it must be her that protects the monastery. Later, as the Mother Superior lies dying, she places Blanche into the service of Mother Marie before passing away in great pain, claiming to be forsaken by God. 

This deeply bothers the witnesses to her death. Sister Constance wonders to Blanche if the Mother Superior had been given a death meant for someone else, suggesting that a peaceful death will come to someone else. 

When the chaplain has been forbidden to preach, the future of the monastery seems uncertain. Although Mother Marie wishes to give her life to change the situation in France, the new Mother Superior informs her that only God may decide who will become a martyr.

When the monastery falls under the ownership of the state, a police officer comes, insisting the nuns to give up their religious habits. Mother Marie convinces the other nuns to take a vow of martyrdom; although they all agree, Blanche has run away. Mother Marie goes off to search for her, finding her in the library of her father. 

Blanche’s father was sent to the guillotine, and so Blanche finds herself at the mercy of her former servants. While Mother Marie is away, the nuns have all been arrested and sentenced to death. The chaplain shares his belief that by being away at the time, God has chosen to spare Mother Marie, thus she cannot martyr herself alongside her sisters. 

When the time comes for the execution of the nuns, Blanche appears to join the doomed company. As the others are beheaded one by one before the guillotine, Blanche begins to sing a hymn offering her life to God. (Source: Met Opera)

New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini has written this about the opera: “Poulenc’s subtle and intricate tonal language is by turns hymnal and haunting. Though scored for a large orchestra, the instruments are often used in smaller groups selected for particular effects and colorings. The most distinctive element of the score, though, is its wonderfully natural vocal writing, which captures the rhythms and lyrical flow of the libretto in eloquent music that hardly calls attention to itself yet lingers with you.”

Opera historian Charles Osborne wrote that “”The inexorable dramatic movement of the work is impressive and, in the final scene in which the nuns walk in procession to the guillotine chanting the “Salve regina,” is extremely moving.  Google: Salve regina Carmelites; then select XV FAO. 

Cast: Joining Isabel Leonard as the young Blanche de la Force will be Met legend Karita Mattila, Adrianne Pieczonka, David Portillo and Dwayne Croft. Met Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducts. 

Tickets are now available at the USCB Center for the Arts, 801 Carteret Street, Beaufort. All seats are general admission. Adults $20; OLLI members $18; Students $10. Order online at www.centerforthearts.com or call 843-521-4145. Transmission begins at noon.

Thibault Gallery featuring teen artist Anthony Johnson

in Arts/Community

Thibault Gallery will break new ground when it features its first teen artist with an installation by Anthony Johnson during the Art Walk and First Friday events from 5-8 p.m. on April 5.

During his preschool years, Johnson’s mother became aware of his natural talent when a teacher showed her a picture of a smiling face he had drawn.  Since then, Johnson has attended art classes at Akrona Gallery and studied visual arts at Miller South School Of Performing Arts, both in Akron, Ohio. In August 2015, Johnson and his family moved to Beaufort, where he graduated from Beaufort Middle School and is currently attending Whale Branch Early College High School.

During his sophomore year in high school he began exploring different art forms.  His art teacher showed him a new form of art using pen, Sharpie, and words from his heart. For Johnson, this became a powerful way to express his feelings onto paper. He quickly adopted this style, implemented his own little twists, and created what he calls “Journal Art.”

Johnson excels with expressing detailed visual representations of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Redd Fox, and, his most recent portrait, Pat Conroy. Each portrait is in Johnson’s own “Journal Art” style and masterfully filled with words produced through journaling. His caliber of work extends way beyond his age of 16.  

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