From laughs to chills, local theaters fill the bill

arts theater

HEIDI HEILBRUNN/Staff

Centre Stage closed out its season in June 2010 with "Driving Miss Daisy," starring Shirley Sarlin and Clark Nesbitt.


Centre Stage

One of Greenville’s professional theaters, the 27-year-old Centre Stage was founded by Douglas McCoy and is currently led by artistic director, BJ Koonce. The company offers six main-stage productions each year and for the past seven years has mounted an extensive New Play Festival that has gained significant national attention. All festival events are free to the public. Centre Stage also partners with a number of local agencies, including the Greenville Technical College theater program, which use the venue as a practice learning space. Centre Stage collaborates with the Metropolitan Arts Council to provide free exhibition space to Upstate visual artists and with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra to host its highly successful Spotlight Series. The theater is located at 501 River St. For more information, call 864-233-6733 or visit www.centrestage.org.

Furman University

Furman University’s department of theater arts offers three stage production featuring student and professional talent, while its music department’s 26 performing ensembles and its students and faculty offer more than 200 open-to-the-public concerts each year. The art department showcases student, faculty and invited talent at its Thompson Art Gallery on campus. And the Richard Riley Institute for Politics and Public Policy brings to campus nationally and internationally renowned speakers. Many events are free. For the theater, call 864-294-2125; for music 864-294-2086; and for the gallery 864-294-2074. furman.edu

Greenville Little Theatre

Since 1926, the Greenville Little Theatre, at 444 College St., has been the city’s largest locally producing arts organization, with a rich offering of whodunits, drama, comedy, farce and classical musicals from “Carousel” to “Oklahoma.” GLT’s seasons include five main-stage productions and two special shows, at Valentine’s Day and Christmas. The 84-year-old venue stays young and current with its alternative series through its Studio 444 productions, which support emerging actors, playwrights and theatrical technicians. The theater also offers GLT on Tour, an outreach program that performs at area elementary schools. For more information, call 864-233-6238 or visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

South Carolina Children’s Theatre

The 24-year-old South Carolina Children’s Theatre, led by executive director Debbie Bell and artistic director Betsy Bisson, is a resident company of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, aimed at serving and inspiring the children of the Upstate with five main-stage productions each year. SCCT also offers a year-round theater education program for children 2-18 and serves the community with its outreach programs for at-risk, disadvantaged and special-needs children. Through its newly minted in 2010 2nd Stage offerings, SCCT has added another facet to its programs with more hands-on theater experience for Greenville’s youngsters. For more information, call 864-235-2885 or visit www.scchildrenstheatre.org.

Upstate Shakespeare Festival

Led by artistic director, John Fagan the 16-year-old Upstate Shakespeare Festival brings free productions of the classics to its audiences in the summer months under the stars at Greenville’s Falls Park on the Reedy. Supported by the Warehouse Theatre and the City of Greenville Parks and Recreation, the festival players keep the audience – seated on blankets and chairs – engaged with their mostly outlandish interpretations of the Bard’s dramas and comedies and, from time to time, works by playwrights such as Moliere. While these performances are free, the company welcomes donations, which it collects post performance by wading into the willing audience. For more, visit upstateshakespearefestival.org.

The Warehouse Theatre

Founded 36 years ago, Greenville’s Warehouse Theatre, is located at 37 Augusta St. in Greenville’s Historic West End District. The Warehouse produces six contemporary and classical main-stage productions, and with each offers pre-show talks to keep its audiences well informed. Led by artistic and executive director Paul Savas, the theater offers post-graduate residencies through its Journeyman program. The Warehouse has earned national recognition for its middle and high school-based outreach program, the Wooden O, an innovative arts-integration program that brings its Journeyman actors into the classroom to teach Shakespeare. In addition, the theater’s resident company, The Distracted Globe, led by Anne and Jayce Tromsness and Jennifer Goff, presents late-night plays and imrov performances. For more information, call 864-235-6948 or visit www.warehousetheatre.com.

Ann Hicks