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A SORT OF HOMECOMING
It looks like Spoleto Festival USA administrators have finally found a new marketing and public relations director who's fit to sit in the chair formerly occupied by Marie Lawson Jacinto, who resigned from Spoleto last June. After a search that's lasted nearly a year, the festival has hired College of Charleston alum Paula Edwards to put a pretty face on the festival going forward, luring her away from Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage, where she's been marketing director for six years. With just four weeks remaining until the festival officially unleashes its 30th incarnation upon Charleston's sweating residents, it's something of an understatement to say Edwards is hitting the ground running.

“Going through it right away will help me understand the dynamic and how it all comes together,” she said Monday, driving down I-95 to her new home. Edwards says she’s been training for the biggest challenge: “The weather in D.C. this time of year is not much different from Charleston. It’s really humid. So I’ve been preparing myself.” —Patrick Sharbaugh

EAST SIDE STORY
Charleston Stage Company's been looking for a little extra elbow room for years, and they're hoping they've found it in the New Tabernacle Fourth Baptist Church in Mazyck-Wraggborough, which developers Charles and Celeste Patrick have proposed converting into a 400-seat theatre and leasing to Charleston Stage. In theory, the company would use it as a temporary production home while the Dock Street Theatre undergoes renovations beginning in summer 2007, then maintain it as a permanent satellite space once they return to the Dock Street. If the finger-wagging NIMBYs of the Garden District neighborhood have their way, however, the professional theatre company will have to go back to the drawing board in its search. On Tues. May 2, the Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals will consider for a second time a request for a use variance needed by the Patricks in order to repurpose the church. It remains an open question whether the theatre and neighborhood residents have reached any common ground since the first meeting in February. At that time, the City's staff was recommending that the variance be granted and district residents were predicting the Apocalypse. Can you blame them? Known for such controversial productions as the upcoming Butterflies Are Free and Anne of Green Gables, Charleston Stage has been menacing downtown's French Quarter for nearly 29 years. How that area has averted plummeting real estate values with such a seedy, neighborhood-destroying element in its midst is anyone's guess. —Elle Lien

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