2006 Fall Arts Preview » Features

CRITICS' PICKS ‌ What's Happening

Our top choices for what not to miss

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Cabaret Kiki
Fri. Oct. 27 at 7:30and 9:30 p.m.
$15
Theatre 99
280 Meeting St., 853-6687

One of the most original, intelligent, creative, and flat-out entertaining performances happening in Charleston today. If you've seen the movie or the stage musical Cabaret, you know what it looks like, but there's a lot more to Cabaret Kiki than just period costumes (though they sure are swell). Cabaret Kiki's like a cross between a circus, a concert, and a naughty (a very naughty) variety show, presided over by a wisecracking, double-entendre-slinging emcee and a superb swing-style band (see Ones To Watch, page 23). A gaggle of Charleston Ballet Theatre dancers writhe about the stage during all of the musical numbers, and every time husky, red-bustiered vocalist Cary Ann Hearst opens her mouth to sing one of her bawdy tunes, you can hear hearts cracking wide open all across the room. With top-notch shadow puppetry by Geoff Cormier and short films to boot, you'll want to put Theatre 99's telephone number on your speed dial for Cabaret Kiki's two shows on Oct. 27.


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Closer
Theatre /verv/
Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15 at 7 p.m.
$10
The Map Room
1650 Sam Rittenberg Blvd.
343-6560

Theatre /verv/ doesn't care much for conventional stuff, as their slightly odd name suggests. Closer should fit them just right, then, though it'll be curious to see how it plays out in the Map Room, their new West Ashley home base. Patrick Marber's play weaves through the lives of two London couples entangled in a web of deception, dirt, and desire. First staged at the Royal National Theatre, London, in 1997, then shipped across the Atlantic for a long Broadway run, Closer is a dark, very contemporary comedy (the dialogue in one scene is not spoken, for instance, but IM'ed) exposing the true nature of selfishness in love. If you saw the 2004 film adaptation by Mike Nichols, starring Julia Roberts, Natalie Portman, Jude Law, and Clive Owen, you're gonna love the play: scribe Patrick Marber wrote both.


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Force of Nature
Opening reception Sat. Oct. 7, 5-7 p.m.
On view through Dec. 8
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
54 St. Philip St.
953-5680
www.halsey.cofc.edu

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art may be about to get some fancy new digs in the massive new wing of the College of Charleston's School of the Arts building that'll have it fronting Calhoun and St. Philip streets, but it's not letting the move dissuade it from doing what it does best: advocating, exhibiting, and interpreting some of the best contemporary visual art in the Southeast and even the nation. Force of Nature is an ambitious collaborative group exhibition featuring 10 artists from Japan who will address a general theme of environmental art using only locally available natural materials – like dirt, wood, and plants – or natural elements and processes, such as wind, fire, decay, or evaporation, in a temporary installation. Most of the best work the Halsey exhibits is as out of the ordinary as it is thought-provoking; Force of Nature seems certain to fit well within that formula.


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Killing Chickens
Pure Theatre Co.
Nov. 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 30, Dec. 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 19, 26 at 2 p.m.
$20
The Cigar Factory
701 East Bay St.
723-4444
www.puretheatre.org

It's one thing to see theatre companies in town doing great productions of classic theatre. But to truly put Charleston on the cultural map, we're going to have to start producing original material (see Cabaret Kiki), not just stuff others have created. Pure Theatre is leading the charge in this regard. Pure executive director and cofounder Rodney Lee Rogers' original play is about chicken-house processor Bob Wiggins, who holds his family together, both alive and dead. Adapted from Rogers' screenplay Wiggins' Noon, Killing Chickens is a funny and heartbreaking tale of holding on and letting go. If it's anything like the typical fare at Pure Theatre, it's anything but typical.


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Romeo and Juliet
Charleston Ballet Theatre
Sat. Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. Nov. 5 at 3 p.m.
$20-$32
Gaillard Auditorium
77 Calhoun St.
723-7334
www.charlestonballet.com

If we're throwing roses at original full-length performance works created by local artists, we have to single out Jill Eathorne Bahr, the resident composer at Charleston Ballet Theatre, who may be one of the most accomplished, and prolific, generative artists in the city. November sees her acclaimed interpretation of Shakespeare's revered romantic tragedy, set to the famous Prokofiev score. Often called the most dynamic ballet score of the 20th century, Romeo and Juliet reminds audiences of love as only youth knows it – all-consuming, reckless, and world-forgetting. Inspired by Prokofiev's expressive score, Bahr's ballet captures the essence of this masterpiece.


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The Producers
Oct. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m.
$33-$63
North Charleston Performing Arts Center
5001 Coliseum Dr.
554-6060
www.coliseumpac.com

The Best of Broadway series at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center is never going to be a place anyone goes seeking envelope-pushing drama – the stuff that comes through the NCPAC is generally about as cutting-edge as a ball of Kleenex. But Mel Brooks has pushed a few envelopes in his time, and his stage adaptation of his own 1968 film won more Tony Awards in 2002 than any Broadway musical in history. True, there's little danger of seeing original stars Matthew Broderick or Nathan Lane there when The Producers lands in October, but we can promise you'll leave whistling "Springtime for Hitler" and "Keep It Gay" even without 'em.


Glengarry Glen Ross
Village Repertory Co.
Oct. 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, Nov. 3, 4 at 8 p.m.
Sun. Oct. 29 at 5 p.m.
$18-$20
Village Playhouse
730 Coleman Blvd.
856-1579
www.villageplayhouse.com

"We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired."

The Village Playhouse pulls out all the stops this October with a play male actors everywhere have memorized by heart. In 1984, Glengarry Glen Ross won David Mamet the Pulitzer Prize, and if you think you've seen men behaving badly on stage before, believe us, you haven't – not until you've seen this comedic drama about the desperate machinations behind the scenes at a slimy real estate office, where small-time real estate salesmen try to profit by selling worthless plots of land, lying, cheating, and stealing for their own piece of the American Dream.


Improv-a-Thon
Presented by the Charleston Comedy Festival
Sat. Nov. 11 from 6-11 p.m.
$TBD
Theatre 99
280 Meeting St.
853-6687
www.thehavenots.com

Theatre 99 is one of the few groups in town who haven't taken a break over the summer. In fact, The Have Nots! and friends have been busy cooking up a whole batch of new groups to add to the Theatre 99 family of improvisers and sketch comedians. On Nov. 11, you'll be able to see many of them, and a lot more besides, when the Charleston Comedy Festival (a joint production of Theatre 99 and the City Paper) present the Improv-a-Thon, a multi-hour marathon of improv and sketch comedy to benefit next January's Charleston Comedy Festival.


Charleston House Concerts Gala Opening Concert
Fri. Sept. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
$50 (adv. purchase required)
The Calhoun Mansion
16 Meeting St.
763-4941
www.charlestonhouseconcerts.org

When the Chamber Music Society of Charleston disbanded last spring, it was a blow to the Lowcountry classical music scene, not least because the CMSC had been incredibly successful with its mission of bringing smaller, exquisite works to intimate settings around town, the group's internal conflicts notwithstanding. Out of the ashes of the Chamber Music Society rise two new chamber groups – Charleston House Concerts, organized by former CMSC director Sandra Nikolajevs, and a College of Charleston effort. Charleston House Concerts opens its premiere season with a bang at the historic Calhoun Mansion, where a pre-concert reception in the gardens will be followed by a performance in the music room that will include Weber's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings and Shostakovich's haunting String Quartet no. 8. Word has it that the performance is already sold out, but there's always the waiting list. And, of course, a full season of concerts to follow.


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Charleston Symphony Orchestra
Gala Opening Concert
Sat. Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
$15-$50, $5/students
Gaillard Auditorium
77 Calhoun St.
554-6060
www.charlestonsymphony.com

The Charleston Symphony Orchestra may be struggling mightily to get their financial footing back, but they're not letting it get in the way of their 71st season. For its big season opener – the kickoff of its Masterworks Series – the CSO dips into the repertoire and pulls out one of the best known and most hallowed works in all of classical music, Beethoven's bone-shaking Ninth Symphony. With support from the CSO Choir, the College of Charleston Concert Choir, and the S.C. State University Choir of Orangeburg, music doesn't get much bigger than this.


Charleston Music Fest Season Opening Concert
Fri. Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. Oct. 22 at 4 p.m.
$25
Ashley Hall
172 Rutledge Ave.
953-5927

The College of Charleston witnessed the demise of the Chamber Music Society of Charleston last spring and saw a perfect opportunity to step into the gap by creating its own chamber series, called the Charleston Music Festival, thereby making the most of new star faculty members Natalia Khoma and Lee-Chin Siow (see Ones To Watch, page 21). The group's opening concert, at Ashley Hall School, features Keng-Yuen, Boris Slutsky, Siow, and Khoma. On the program: Beethoven's Violin Sonata No. 3, Moszkowski's Suite for two violins and piano in G minor, de Falla's Spanish Dance, and more.


Candlelight at the College
The College of Charleston Concert Choir
Mon. Dec. 4 at 8 p.m.
$5, free for CofC students with valid ID
Location TBD
953-5927
www.cofc.edu/music

It's no exaggeration to say that the College of Charleston Concert Choir is one of the best college choral ensembles in the nation. Last year the group received the nation's top honor for a college choir when it traveled to Los Angeles and performed at the 2005 American Choral Directors Association National Convention. Led by exacting director Robert Taylor, the group will perform seasonal music by soft candlelight, with holiday readings from actor Evan Parry, as part of the College's Monday Night Concert Series.


Forging Spirits
MOJA Arts Festival
Sept. 16-Nov. 19
Free
City Gallery at Waterfront Park
10 Prioleau St.
958-6484

October's MOJA Arts Festival usually sets the visual arts bar high, and this year should be no exception. Forging Spirits features artists Jason Corder and Yaw Owusu Shangofemi. Shangofemi has studied with local master blacksmith Philip Simmons, and Corder studied with noted Senegalese painter Ousseynou Sarr. Corder produces abstract textural paintings while Yaw uses a blacksmithing technique to produce large steel pieces. Yaw's pieces are coming from Florida and most of Jason's work is coming all the way from France, where he now lives. Ade Ofunniyin, a former employee of the City Office of Cultural Affairs, which produces MOJA, is curating the exhibition.


Charleston Documentary Film Festival
Oct. 6-9
American Theater
446 King St.
277-0485
www.chasdoc.org

While local filmmakers and industry workers applaud recent S.C. legislation creating fat tax incentives for production companies filming here, local filmmaker and activist Justin Nathanson (see Ones To Watch, page 33) is coming at the task of beefing up the local film industry from an entirely different direction. His first Charleston Documentary Film Festival in October is a four-day event in which organizers will screen some 40 documentary features and a number of short films. The festival is also a major springboard for local and national businesses to advertise their "green" capabilities. Is a documentary film festival easier to create because the filmmakers and the stars are ordinary people instead of celebrities? Who cares. If less red carpet means less red ink, we're all for it.


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