Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Husk Restaurant In Charleston-Great Southern Gourmet Experience And Beautiful Location

What is better than spending a day with a special someone? Beginning that great day with a fantastic meal at a downtown Charleston restaurant. The restaurant was the Husk on Queen Street. My expectations were high going in. I had read nothing but rave reviews from various sources. I got further confirmation the night before while sitting on the rooftop bar of the Boathouse Restaurant at Breech Inlet on the Isle of Palms. While in conversation with a couple celebrating their anniversary, they lamented their disappointment over not being able to reserve a table at the Husk, at which time, we informed them we had secured a table for the next day, which made me feel pretty good. Husk did more than live up to those expectations, they made me a true believer.

It was a Sunday afternoon, August 26th, reservations were set for 2:00pm. My first choice would have been 6:00pm, but according to Husk's online reservations there were no tables open until 10:30pm. So, we would be selecting from their Brunch menu. I parked my car at the garage in the Vendue Range and after walking some distance, it dawned on me the Husk was located on the other side of Meeting Street next to Poogan's Porch. I should have parked closer, but as it turned out, the unsuspected mistake would work in our favor anyway, and that is another story.

The Husk is a beautifully restored 1893 Queen Ann home and before becoming Husk, it was a school. The front of the old house was overshadowed on its left side by a huge, stately Magnolia tree. A beautifully landscaped, brick walkway took you to the porch and the large entrance door. The foyer had high ceilings with a large room to the right and steps leading to the second floor, and as it would turn out, where we would be seated. A large chalk board hanging on the wall was a main feature in the entrance way used to list the local sources of its ingredients currently provisioning the kitchen. After apologizing for arriving somewhat past our reservation time, we were seated immediately in a front room on the second floor by a window and presented with the menus shortly there after.

Drinks are traditionally your first consideration. My dinner partner, Keri Whitaker, much more knowledgeable about drinks, suggested trying a mimosa--a mixture of champagne and orange juice. A fitting proposal seeing I like anything containing orange juice. A serving of three pieces of bread was brought out along with our mimosas. An interesting observation was made by my partner. "Why did they bring out three pieces of bread when there are two of us? Wouldn't it make more sense for it to be four pieces or two pieces?" Of course, the question was rhetorical, but nevertheless an appropriate query. We clinked our glasses together signaling the start to our Husk experience.

Our table was close to the upper front porch and we noticed all the tables outside were available. Since it was a beautiful day, we asked if it was permissible for us to change tables to sit outside. Our server, Melanie, was more than gracious about the switch. As it turned out, it was a pleasant change of scenery. It afforded us the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Charleston afternoon and watch the activity on the street below. The many open tables made me contemplate why a reservation was necessary.

Our First selection was a salad of Kurlos Farms Bibb lettuce, marinated tomatoes, shaved carrots and onions, Brioche croutons, and cucumber buttermilk Vinaigrette. The croutons were superb and the vinaigrette an excellent complimentary emulsion. The meal was off to a good start. Selection number two from the Brunch menu was a cornmeal dusted catfish served over braised cabbage, smoky tomato and field peas. The catfish meat was of a good texture and the smoky tomato juices added a slightly tangy taste. Finally, our dessert was a fried crusted peach pie with a side of ice cream. The perfect conclusion to a satisfying, rewarding brunch.

Finally, one of the highlights of our visit was a drink pulled off of their list of hand crafted cocktails that included punches, modern Husk creations, whiskey based drinks, and Southern bottled beer. The list used a blend of comedic phrases in its presentation adding a lighter touch to balance the formalities. The very first drink on the list caught my attention because its name reminded me of one of my favorite movies, "The School of Rock" starring Jack Black. The name of the drink was "School House on the Rock". It was a blend of Asperol, Cruzan white rum, orange, lime, palm sugar, topped with Beinheim Old #3 ginger ale and unsweetened whipped cream. It was by far the best drink I have ever had the pleasure of wrapping my hands around.

I do not consider myself to be a gourmet connoisseur and it doesn't take much to please me. I couldn't find anything negative about our uplifting experience at Husk, except maybe the hostess could have been slightly more engaging, but maybe I am just fishing to find the slightest flaw in perfection. Our server was very attentive and patiently answered all of our many questions. The presentation of the various dishes was very professional and the food delightfully tasty. The drinks were superb. The total bill was $87. Breaking it down, drinks were $41 and food was $46. The final question: Would I return to the Husk? Absolutely. Where else will I find such an amazing drink, and yes, great southern food? The answer to that question, its all Charleston.

Pictures courtesy Keri Whitaker.
Husk is located at 76 Queen Street. Phone: 843-577-2500

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fun And Run In Summerville, SC-The "13th Annual Race For The ARK"

Saturday morning, August 25th, it was race day. The starting horn was scheduled to sound off at 7:45am. My alarm was set to go off at 6:00am, thus allowing me plenty of time to make preparations for the 5K race. As it turned out, the alarm wasn't necessary. Anticipation and a slightly elevated adrenalin count was all the clock I needed to alert me to the rising sun. I showered, ate a bowl of shredded wheat squares, and downed a glass of Mango Twist. Squeezed in a few moments on the ivories to relax and maybe lingered a little too long on the computer checking Facebook. The time had arrived to slip on my brand new pair of Saucony's and hit the road. It was a short 10 minute drive up Central Ave to the starting line in the historic section of Summerville. It was the annual "Race for the ARK", the 13th edition.

The Race is set up to give support to ARK, a local nonsectarian, nonprofit outreach program providing comprehensive support services to families dealing with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Hundreds of runners and walkers from all over the Lowcountry attend this Summerville event to participate in the fun and the run. The course is USATF certified and winds through some of the most beautiful streets of Summerville. You can sign up as an individual or you can be a part of a corporate group that is sponsored by one of Summerville's businesses. There are prizes for the top runners. The first male and female runner to break the course record will receive $100 cash prize. The corporate team with the overall best time would take home the traveling trophy for the year. Our group was sponsored by Aura Lee's Jewelry, Handbags and Accessories and there were a total of five runners.
Our Corporate Group
Me, Chelsea, and Bill
The temperature was a comfortable low 70's and the humidity was at a tolerable level. It was a perfect southern comfort morning for a run in the pines. I arrived on sight at 7:15am, signed in, and with our corporate group finally gathered together, awaited the highly anticipated horn blast. Conversation centered around evaluating each persons running experience since none of us had ever ran together before. I tried to keep expectations low in regards to myself because I had know idea what I was in for. It had been years since I ran, and I mean many years, in a sponsored running event. Cycling and swimming have been my forte in recent years. After all, the whole run from start to finish  adds up to only a meager 3.1 miles, should be a breeze. With visions of acing the course in record time dancing in my head, I readied myself with "Get on your mark," and it was go time.
Some of the runners before the start
We were out of the gate quick, maybe too quick. Now, I said quick, I didn't say fast. Ten minutes later we hit the one mile marker and I remarked, "You got to be kidding me, we've gone only one mile." My pre-race vision of basking in the glory of being presented with the prized trophy was turning into a figment of my over active imagination. I used to run a five minute mile in my younger days. We hit the two mile marker and the time keeper barked out, "21 minutes and ten seconds." The brand new Saucony's were beginning to irritate the back of my heels and I could feel the blisters beginning to form.

With 1.1 miles to go, I suggested to my fellow group runner, Bill Summers, the necessity of going out in a blaze of glory. Salvaging some of my damaged ego was now my concern. The scheme; take it home in a fast sprint with arms held high in celebration. This is where I must insert, "The best laid schemes of mice and men go oft awry." We rounded the final corner and the finish line was now in sight. I could hear a fellow White Gables resident, Kathy Owens, cheering me on and a sudden spurt of adrenalin kicked in. I did cross the line with arms in the air, but the sprint had faded to a trot and Bill Summers left me in the dust. Although, I did manage a quick burst the last twenty feet.
Kathy Owens is an experienced marathon runner
The finish line attendants took our numbers, registered our times, and handed us a bottle of water. We all congratulated one another on successfully completing the race. I was sweaty and bloodied, but feeling pretty good. The awards and trophies were past out and the race event was over. It was a another beautiful day in historic Summerville. This is just one of the many race events scheduled throughout the Charleston and Summerville area during the year. Come join the fun and see why it is the number one destination in the nation.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Another Successful Third Thursday In Summerville-Drumming Up Some Business For The Local Economy

Drum circle in Hutchinson Square
There was the sound of off-kiltered drumming in the shade of the big oak trees of Summerville's Hutchinson Square. The famed square in the center of town, which hosts various exhibits throughout the year, was the fitting location for the scheduled drum circle of this weeks Third Thursday. A drum circle is described as any group of people who informally gather together to beat on drums. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. Easier said than done when the circle consists of people from the community with no percussion training of any sort, but that is what makes it fun. And that is what Third Thursday is all about, community.

There was a variety of live music throughout the downtown area from Hutchinson Square to Short Central, a quaint pedestrian-only side street where art and craft displays are set up in front of the various eclectic shops and galleries lining it on both sides. An older gentleman was serenading the ladies passing by with songs from the distant past. He was very good. Chelsea Summers was at her usual place outside of her mother's store on W Richardson singing with her guitar in hand and signing copies of her recently released CD. I was introduced to a young boy by the name of Tristan LaMunion. Tristan is an aspiring axe man and plays in a local grocery store.

My first stop of the night was Hutchinson Square where I took some video of the drum circle. I was tempted to join in, but the group I was with wasn't the least bit interested in pounding on a bunch of drums. Food was more of a priority. The Montreax was the next stop where I forked down a Caesar Salad and sucked up some coke, the drink. The crowd was on the light side as it was still early. A young man had gotten up to perform and sang songs like "Cause I'm a picker, I'm a grinner, I'm a lover and I'm a sinner." Impossible to say those words without adding the melody. From there, strolled over to Short Central. Sam Singleton, an extraordinary balladeer, was enchanting the shopping crowd with his soulful style of singing. All the shops were open for business, each with a spread of choice wines, beer, and cheeses for their patrons to sample, a tradition of Third Thursday.

Third Thursday is all about promoting Summerville businesses, an event sponsored by Summerville D.R.E.A.M. to assist store owners in gaining exposure and much needed profit for maintaining a thriving downtown district. Downtown Crossing and Art and Soul were two businesses on my list to visit this night.

135 Central Ave
Downtown Crossing is a quaint space of neatly organized hand-made products. "We make all the items in the store, there are no consignments," Sarah informed me. Sarah is one of two owners. She is partners with a college friend, Jewel, who happens to be her sister-in-law. They attended Charleston Southern. So, the store is family owned and family run. Sarah graciously pointed out the different hand-made accessories and home goods avaiable and informed me of its maker. There is a loft above the sales floor utilized as a work space for creating their complete line of goods. Jewel is also a writer. She just released her own book called "Road Trip To Love" based on her own experiences. You can aquire a copy on Amazon or if you visit her store at 135 Central Ave, she would more than likely be happy to provide you with a copy. To view their line of product click on Downtown Crossing. "Family owned, family made" is the store's motto.
Sarah, one of the partners
Jewel's book
113 West 2nd South Street
My next appointed stop was Art And Soul, a business where a lot is going on. You can't miss it, a brand new sign larger-than-life marks its location. The inside is equally large and spacious, enough room to host "Dancing with the Stars." I introduced myself to Pamela Ward, the owner, who was quite busy, but took the time to explain what Art and Soul is about. There were french mimes present, live entertainment, french food, face painting, and a free photo booth for families. I saw several familiar faces while I was there. The center serves as a venue for children's parties, adult gatherings, meetings, classes, seminar space, and weekend venues for musicians. It is also a tourism and travel company that arranges unique retreats, trips and tours for locals and tourists with costumed, historic tour guides. Artful Dodgers Actors  there and will be offering theater for children and adults. Every year they have a "Fezziwig Party", a character from the beloved, famous holiday story written by Charles Dickens. Fezziwig knew how to throw a party and so does Art and Soul. Check them out at their Facebook page or call 843- 224-4133.
Leslie Vicary and Pamela Ward
Lesley Vicary will be featured in the "Last Flapper", a one-woman play based on the life and writings of Zelda Fitzgerald. The play will be at the South of Broadway Theatre Company starting September 7th. Call 843-745-0317 for reservations or click on dates and tickets.

We ended the night drinking the traditional Yuengling while listening to Chelsea sing at Aura Lee's and then last-but-not-least, Accent on Wine to indulge in a glass of grapy goodness and a platter called the "Drunken Goat", a cheese which has been “made drunk” by submerging it in a wine (Mourvèdre grapes) for 72 hours. The process gives the rind a vivid purple hue. The cheese has a mild, sweet, and fruity taste. Doesn't that description make your mouth water.
Chelsea and Tristan
It was another successful Third Thursday in historic Summerville despite the fact it was competing with "meet the teacher night" at the local schools. See you at the next installment in September when summer will be nearing its end.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Charleston Area Concerts And Music Venues Highlighting Its Homegrown Talent

The sound of music is in the air, it is everywhere in the Lowcountry. Few people may know this, but Charleston was home to the first musical society in North America called the St. Cecilia Society. It was formed possibly in 1766 as a private subscription concert organization, meaning members only. The exact date of its formation is speculative because early records were destroyed during the Civil War.

Popular musical tastes were much different then compared to what they are at present-no shakin' your booty or shagin' on the pier in those early colonial days. The musical society was greatly influenced by British tastes. Works of concert composers then favored in London were heard in Charleston between 1766 and 1820, the year the concert series came to an end. Musical tastes were changing, a country wide financial crisis unraveled the local economy and induced the society to curtail its activities. The society still exists today. The organization has a punch named after it called the St. Cecilia Society Punch.

Over the next two hundred years music has morphed in the Lowcountry. A period of time significant in the evolution of music in Charleston was the early 1900's. The Gullah culture of Charleston's sea island and its dock workers played a huge role in the development of what would become America's classical music, jazz and everything associated with it. Step aside New Orleans, jazzy Charleston humbly and quite possibly predates you, if you were to consider the evidence and the sociological development of enslaved Africans where European art was Africanized.
Avery Research Center

Many Charleston musicians of that period learned their craft with the Jenkins Orphanage Bands who were taught and trained at Charleston’s Jenkins Orphanage, one of the country’s first private black orphanages. Others were taught and trained at a school founded in 1865, Charleston’s Avery Normal Institute, now the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. The Center is located on the site of the former Avery Normal Institute at the College of Charleston.

In 1923, James P. Johnson, composed a song bearing the cities name using the driving rhythm of ragtime. Cecil Mack penned the lyrics for the song, but the words are relatively unknown in comparison to the tune. A dance of the same name was inspired by the song that became a dance synonymous with the 20's, the "Charleston". Everybody in the country was twisting their feet and kicking up their heels and the dance found a permanent place in musical history all due to the cities cultural influences. At the time, the "Charleston" was considered an immoral and provocative dance. Little did they know what was yet to come.
Darius Rucker in concert

Today, Charleston is still a cultural center for the musical arts. The Spoleto Festival and its compliment, Piccolo Spoleto, are proof of Charleston's immeasurable contribution to the performing arts. The two festivals feature music of all genres ranging from classical to jazz. Their mission is to present programs of the highest artistic caliber with a mix of distinguished artists and emerging talent both internationally and locally. Over the years Charleston has produced some phenomenal talent.

August 17 and 18 one of Charleston's sons, Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish, will perform a concert at Family Circle Magazine Stadium called Homegrown. The band came together in 1986 while in college at USC. Hootie and the Blowfish plays a mainstream pop variation of blues-rock, with an easy-going sound. Since debuting in 1994, the band has produced a string of Top 40 hits and sold over 25 million albums over the years. This is their 8th consecutive time at the Family Circle Magazine Stadium. They established the Hootie and the Blowfish Foundation benefiting children of South Carolina through education and supporting school music programs. You can purchase tickets for the concert.
Eddie Bush and myself

Eddie Bush is another homegrown talent and a Charleston favorite. From the time he decided music was his calling, and that was a very early age, Eddie committed himself to becoming a great guitar player, which he has accomplished. He astounds his audiences with his fiery guitar licks. He also dedicated himself equally at being an excellent singer and songwriting. He toured with Eric Johnson, played as part of a trio called One Flew South, and has been recognized nationally and locally for writing various moving ballads. I have seen Eddie perform on many occasions throughout the Charleston area. I have met Eddie personally and he is as engaging one on one as he is on the stage. He makes you feel like he is your next door neighbor, which in my case Eddie is a close neighbor. For the list of Eddie's future engagements, click here for his calendar.
Chelsea Summers

New musical talent continues to emerge in the Lowcountry. A young singer/songwriter I call "Summerville's Sweetheart" is making inroads into the local pop scene. Like any journey, it begins with the first step. Chelsea Summers began her journey at the age of thirteen, teaching herself to play guitar. Her first venue was outside her mother's store on W Richardson Ave in Summerville. She played for the Third Thursday crowds who gathered on the brick patio in front of the store to share some light conversation and refreshing beverages courtesy the Summers. It was then and there I first discovered Chelsea. I was captivated. You could compare her to Taylor Swift or Hilary Duff, but she is uniquely Chelsea. I have closely watched Chelsea hone her acoustic skills, sweet vocals and emerging stage presence. She has opened for Parachute, attended Nashville Songwriter’s Association International Advanced Songwriter’s Camp, and recently returned to Nashville. Her newly released CD features her own works and the songs are soulful and soothing. Click here for the list of venues she will be appearing at around the Lowcountry.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

PGA Week In Charleston-The Number One Destination Showcasing Its Attraction

Kiawah Island Ocean Course
The rains have been descending upon the Lowcountry these early August days like a swarm of mosquitoes descending on a spottail fisherman in the backwaters of Gray Bay. Dodging the raindrops running from one destination to the next and arriving in dry clothing has become a challenge. There seems to be a definite daily pattern taking hold. The day begins sunny, the clouds build as the morning progresses, by afternoon the rains pour down, and in the evening the skies clear out. It's mid-summer in the Lowcountry. High humidity equates into precipitation as the heat of the day builds in an unstable atmosphere and voila(pardon my French), you get rain. How's that for a weather analogy Al Rocker.

The PGA's top golfers have been likewise descending upon the Lowcountry these early August days, by air and by sea. Walking from hole to hole with the least amount of strokes will be their challenge starting on the 9th. The extended forecast is calling for the possibility of rain and wind for the entire tournament. The Ocean Course already has a reputation for being dominated by fickled breezes. The capricious winds will show no favorites and figures to play a significant role in being a spoiler. Arriving at the 501 yard, 18th hole on par with dry clothing will be an added challenge for the golfers. An anticipated 200,000 hearty spectators will swamp the course through the week, but the Sunday crowd will see the final putt of the tournament. Drive for show, putt for dough. Will it be won by a Bubba Watson miracle shot or a Tiger Woods off the green chip in. One thing is for sure, Tiger will be feasting on Charleston's oysters, Casanova's favorite aphrodisiac. Come on, play fair.
Just for fun

You can bet a bucket of oysters all those spectators will be spending some money while they're in town. The PGA and the College of Charleston Office of Tourism Analysis forecasts that the championship will generate a downpour of some $193 million for South Carolina. Charleston will be close to all the action. Its renowned restaurants will be cooking up a storm of their own as they cater to the thousands of expected visitors here for the tournament. Some of the featured restaurants during PGA week are Bowens Island, Melvins, Slightly North of Broad, Fig, Husk, Red Drum, Charleston Grill, Martha Lou's, Red's Ice House, and Hominy Grill. Beautiful accommodations, informative historic tours, and a lively nighttime scene is all a part of the package.

Since it is PGA tournament time in Charleston, the area golf courses will be benefiting from all of the hype it generates. After watching the pros, the amateur golfers in the Lowcountry will be wanting to test out their own skills. At least, that is the way it is for me after watching any sporting event. Historic Charleston is surrounded by courses of exceptional variety from breathtaking coastal terrains to tree-lined forest fairways. As already mentioned earlier in this article, the Kiawah Island Golf Resorts Ocean Course is one of those courses.

View Larger Map
The Ocean Course is located on the eastern-most end of Kiawah island and boasts more seaside holes than any other course in the Northern Hemisphere-10 in all. The raised golf course has unobstructed views of Kiawah’s beautiful Atlantic coastline from every hole. It is no stranger to notoriety. It hosted the 2007 Senior PGA Championship and the 2012 PGA Tournament, now underway, is the first of golf's four majors to be played in South Carolina. If you are interested in golf packages, visit Kiawah Island Golf Resort's web page. You can stay at the beautiful Sanctuary Hotel. For a complete list of all the packages the resort offers go to Kiawah Vacation Packages. The Kiawah Island Golf Resort has four additional courses.

Five other courses featured this week are Patriots Point Links, The Plantation Club at Edisto Island, Wild Dunes Resort, Charleston National and Crowfield Country Club. All have PGA specials. Patriot Point Links is in the heart of Mount Pleasant with holes overlooking Charleston Harbor and nestled in the shadows of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. The Plantation Club at Edisto Island is offering a charter bus with express access to The Ocean Course and on-board refreshments each day for its guests. The Wild Dunes on the Isle of Palms will have a 19th Hole with extra TVs and streaming video on laptops, so if you want to play and then watch the PGA every day, they have that setup all day long. The Charleston National signed up with the PGA to offer a special, where if you bring your PGA Championship ticket or show it on your phone, you get a 10 percent discount. Crowfield Country Club will offer green fees at $40 before noon, $30 after Monday-Friday, and just $5 more on weekends. Seniors can get a $29 rate all day weekdays.

This week an estimated 500 million people in 200 countries will view the tournament on television. The Lowcountry scenery will leave a lasting impression on those visiting as well as everyone watching from afar. Come and see for yourself. Once you come here, you just might want to stay, I did.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

"The Wizard Of Oz" Takes Summerville By Storm-A Must See For The Whole Family

Kansa scene from "The Wizard of Oz"
The timeless 1935 American musical "The Wizard of Oz" opened at the James F. Dean Theatre in Summerville Thursday, August 2nd. The 1900 children's novel that became "The Wizard of Oz" film is one of the most celebrated movies ever made and named the most watched motion picture in history by the Library of Congress. It has carried countless numbers of both young and old "Over the Rainbow" to the colorful land of Oz where you are first greeted by the timid, strange talking Munchkins and the place Dorothy begins her journey down the memorable yellow brick road to the Emerald City, a journey that ends with a defining moment and a life lesson learned-"There is no place like home."

How many of us adults at one point or another in our childhood had thought about running away from home over something we were unhappy over? Especially, if our beloved dog was taken away from us by a cold, heartless matron dressed in black by the name of Almira Gulch. The traumatic event would be enough to send anyone traveling down the yellow brick road in search of someone with the power and authority to rescue you and "your mangy little dog, too." Personally, I can relate. I once had a neighbor report my dog to the Dog Warden for barking and like Dorothy, I fantasized the thought of throwing a bucket of water on the witchy neighbor.
Some of the backstage crew

The movie was famous for incorporating masterful special effects and unusual characters. The most noteworthy of its ideas was to present Dorothy's real life in sepia-tinted black-and-white and her entrance into the dream world of Oz in full technicolor, thus accentuating the beauty and wonder of her mystical journey through multiple, changing scenes, which for a stage adaptation would present a real challenge. A challenge the Flowertown Players production team dramatically executed considering the limited space and budget they had to work with. The stage crew navigated almost crunch-free through the eleven different scene changes and prop adjustments. The most difficult task performed by the crew was the rotation of the circular stage the Flowertown Players added for a previous play. I had never seen c-claps used that way before-quite adaptive.

The list of names involved in the plays successful debut is long. There were many imaginative minds and skillful hands used. So, hats off to producer David Hatch, stage manager Claire Parascandolo, and production manager Sarah Smith, and a salute to all the volunteers involved including the staging of the choreography, costume design, sound design and video production, especially to Ivan Parascandalo for the Muppet Wizard. The supporting cast, many of whom played multiple roles, assisted with the various scene changes. The scene that stood out for me was Scene Four of Act 1, when Dorothy first entered Oz and met Glinda and the Munchkins. The whole Munchkinland segment was executed near perfectly by all the young, enthusiastic performers. However, there was a certain little Munchkin Mayor who lost a mustache just before sending Dorothy down the yellow brick road.
All the Munchkins
I followed this acting group from auditions to opening night. The main cast was perfectly matched to the characters they portrayed, the very same ones who sang and danced their way into our collective psyches. I was more than super-pleased with the performance of Hanna Hiel, a senior from Pinewood  Prepatory, as Dorothy Gale. Over the many weeks of hard work, she came to know her character very intimately and successfully projected the perfect Dorothy from beginning to end. I enjoyed her singing of the award-winning song "Over the Rainbow". She also handled Lacy Gregowicz(Toto) quite well and I must insert at this point, the use of a real dog added a touch of realism and believability. It was amusing to watch the dogs reaction to everything. Lacy was interestingly cooperative about being stuffed into a basket and disappointingly denied a tempting bite of Professor Marvel's(Gary Ludlam) hot dog.
Hanna Hiel(Dorothy) and the cast warming up before show
Robert Culbreth Jr(Hunk/The Scarecrow), Ryan Ball(Hickory/The Tinman), and David Hatch(Zeke/The Cowardly Lion) perspired their way through equally excellent performances. The costumes for all three characters were designed well, and under the bright lights in the heat of performance, they had to be hot. I overheard David remark after the performance, "I lost ten pounds tonight." Deborah Culbreth played the mean hag Almira Gulch and the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West. Her sinister laugh still echoes in my ears with the words, "I'll get you, my pretty...and your little dog, too." Definitely not someone you would want to meet in a dark forest.
Wicked Witch of the West
If you were to close your eyes(this is not the part where you tap your heals and say, "There's no place like home," three times) and listen to Sara Armistead's voice portrayal of Glinda, you would think you were listening to the original actress, Billie Burke. Sara looked the part and sounded the part. She also played Aunt Em. Last-but-not-least, Henry Gale/Emerald City Guard was played by Lynn Latham. If Lynn looks more like a high school football referee than a farmer, it's because he is.
This is a must-see play. You will be pleasantly entertained. It is well worth an afternoon or an evening out. So, I encourage you without delay to purchase a ticket to "The Wizard of Oz" now. Show dates are August 2, 3 and 4, 9, 10, 11 and 17 with 2pm shows 4, 5, 11 and 12.
A special thanks goes to the Flowertown Players for enriching the community of Summerville with their talent and love for the performing arts. The sacrifice of time made by all the cast members and especially the younger ones involved in this production, putting other interests on hold for a few months, is greatly appreciated by the residents of Summerville and surrounding communities. A special thanks goes to Claire Parascandolo from myself for allowing me the opportunity to mingle backstage with the cast and crew to take pictures.
After party with David Hatch, Sara Armistead, Hanna Hiel, and Ryan Ball