Arts and Culture

Shani Gilchrist

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Greenwood Community Theatre: The Gem of the S.C. Festival of Flowers

Posted 7/2/2012 3:33:00 PM

If you’ve never experienced the feeling of arriving at an oasis, hop in the car and head to Greenwood. After driving through idyllic country roads lined with cow pastures, old barns and scenic spots you will arrive at the Emerald City (even better than Oz, because it’s real and there is food, wine and art to be enjoyed.)

I recently drove up to Greenwood for the arts events at the S.C. Festival of Flowers. This yearly festival shows a city that is vibrating with activity. Of course, given the name, there are events centering around the state’s bounty of flowers and plants, but the area also is bursting with arts events, as well.

When I first arrived on Saturday I headed over to Northside Middle School, where vendors had set up for the annual Arts and Crafts Show. There were so many booths with original, handmade creations. I stopped for a moment to chat with Frank Lustig of Creative Clay Formations. Frank is based in Aiken and molds bowls and statues that make beautiful centerpieces for any table.
 
I spent the rest of the day wandering around town, checking out the various locations where pieces were
hung for a gallery crawl. Hopping between restaurants like Howard’s on Main and The Mill House to find the featured art was like the perfect summer scavenger hunt (with breaks for pizza and beer!)

The highlight of the day was yet to come, however. This was the birthday weekend of one of my good friends, and it just so happened that this friend is a friend of Broadway star Nat Chandler, who hails from Greenwood. Chandler returns to his hometown often to perform for the people who lifted him up to become the renowned singer and actor that he is today.

Chandler grew up on the stage of Greenwood Community Theatre and this weekend he returned to that stage to star in Man of La Mancha alongside his friend and fellow South Carolina-born actor Keith Jameson. Together they made an irresistible duo, but I have to tell you, my friends and I were completely charmed by the rest of the cast, who were members of the local theater group.

With this group Greenwood proved to be a hidden treasure beyond my expectations. The range of the actors was immense, and their professionalism rivaled that of many theater troupes from the country’s larger metropolitan areas. Isaac Young’s portrayal of the Padre had the audience doubled over in laughter during his moments as comically insane prisoner and filled with compassion during those as the priest who tries to keep it all together.

The theater’s upcoming season should not be missed. If you are in the area you will be thrilled if you time it to see Legally Blonde or Oliver. Afterwards, Pascal’s Café and Grill is a perfect stop for post-theater dinner and drinks. The two paired together will make for an excellent date night while visiting this beautiful corner of the Palmetto State.