Friday, January 10, 2014

The Specter Of Change Arrives In Summerville Once Again-A Welcomed Visit

Change has been a persuasive specter in Summerville, appearing at times in different forms and making its presence felt over the passing years. Transformation, metamorphosis, development, modification, transition, contraction, refinement, destruction and reconstruction are just some of its hauntings. Sometimes visitations have been spontaneous and sometimes coerced, sometimes unwanted and sometimes welcomed.

This specter of change has returned to Summerville recently, but this visitation has been coerced. And if your powers of observation are acute, you would have perceived its presence downtown, taking the form of reconstruction.

Our community theater is getting a long needed facelift with a new marquee as the primary feature. This will be the third marquee since the theater was first built around 1935. The second marquee change took place during its much needed renovation when the theater became the home for the Flowertown Players around 1976. The new marquee will be a return to the look and feel of the original with some slight differences.

As part of the change, the brick flower boxes have been removed and needed repairs to the masonry are being addressed. If everything goes according to plan, the new marquee will make its debut within the next two weeks - just in time for the Flowertown Players next production of the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama winning musical Rent.

Rent, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson, is based loosely on Giacomo Puccini's opera "La bohème." The off-Broadway show debuted exactly 100 years after Puccini's opera of 1896. On Broadway, it had a 12-year run of 5,123 performances and became the ninth longest-running Broadway show at the time. The production grossed over $280 million.

With their presentation of Rent, the Flowertown Players will be venturing into uncharted waters - it deals in adult rated material. The setting of the play is in New York City's Lower East Side during the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, the artsy avant-garde neighborhood of marginalized artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors of Manhattan. Bohemianism was the practice of an unconventional lifestyle and Bohemians were associated with anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed by artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors through free love, frugality, and voluntary poverty.

This production of Rent follows a year in the life of a group of these impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive in that Lower East Side environment of New York City - falling in love, finding their voice and living for today. The cast consists of 20 of our locally dedicated actors.

On my recent visit to the James F. Dean Theatre, I got a preview of the near-completed set and a peek at Mark Gorman, Artistic Director of South of Broadway Theatre Company, and JC Conway working through procedures involved in setting the final mix of the scripts lighting cues. The play will open Friday, January 17th. I look forward to seeing some of you then and everyone else stay-tuned for my after-opening night review.

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