If you visit Myrtle Beach without seeing a show at the Asher Theater, you are missing out on some of the area’s best fun. The modest-sized, but inviting venue, located off U.S. 501 in the former Waccamaw Pottery Mall, is a magnet for locals and visitors looking for belly laughs, good music and all-around light-hearted entertainment.
Comedian/actor/impersonator James Stephens III and his wife, Dr. Grace Stephens, established the theater in 2018 and have been drawing enthusiastic crowds ever since to see stand-up comedians, musical performances and more.
National stand-up acts are booked regularly along with a roster of impressive local talent appearing in fan favorites like the nostalgic musical revue, "Motown ’59," and the whodunnit, "Murder at the Cotton Club." The revue features several Motown tributes to acts like the Jackson 5, Temptations, Tina Turner, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder, all impersonated by Stephens and/or a stellar lineup of musical artists. The interactive "Murder at the Cotton Club" invites audience participation and includes a soul food dinner and live musical entertainment. Dinner is optional for the Motown show.
The laughs begin in the waiting area where Stephens’ line of original paintings with “Yo’ Mama” joke-themes line the wall. You’ll also find the All Good Things store featuring Fair Trade gift items and walls covered with photos of Stephens and celebrity friends like Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. There’s a concession stand with popcorn, candy, soda, wine and beer as well as a conference center that can be reserved for corporate and community functions.
But the main attraction at the Asher is the multi-talented Stephens, a Lakeview native who returned to South Carolina after a whirlwind career that landed him on Comedy Central, HBO, MTV and Showtime as well as the stages of the Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall. Hailed by TIME magazine as one of the funniest comedians in the nation, Stephens regularly appears at the Asher, working the audience before showtime and appearing on stage as part of the cast.
The one-man show, “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” is the perfect avenue for Stephens to deliver his spot-on impersonations of Frank Sinatra, Chris Rock, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, Little Wayne, Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson and many more. A triple threat tribute artist, he seamlessly moves from the piano as Duke Ellington to the trumpet as Louis Armstrong, then onto the dance floor as Sammy Davis, Jr. Stephens’ love for entertaining is evident in each character he portrays and through the good-natured ribbing he gives the audience.
While laughter is the most prominent joyful noise you’ll hear at the Asher, the rousing applause at the end of each show comes in a close second.
For show updates and tickets, visit ashertheatre.com.