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Christmas in Charleston – Theater and Music


Footlight Players Theater

In my last post I mentioned that it is oyster season. In the City Paper today was an ad for a shop on King Street that sells tabletop christmas trees made from oyster shells, and they are very cute. Other oyster shell things I’ve seen in shops include christmas ornaments, picture frames, candle holders, and chandeliers.  Historically, oyster shells were used in a type of concrete called “Tabby” that they used to build defensive fortifications. Who knew that such a homely shell would become a classic Charleston icon?

And now, cool “Christmas-y” stuff to do that costs money. But like they say, “you can’t take it with you”, so be a good American and leave it here. Most of these next events will definitely appeal to adults and maybe teenagers who can appreciate things like live theater, making it worth the money. But for families with small children, the concern is obviously whether the child will be interested enough to pay attention, justifying the cost of taking them. I’ll try to keep that in mind as I list each event, but parents can also check websites and decide for themselves.

Charleston Stage Theater Company (estab. 1978) in residence at the historic Dock Street Theater
135 Church St. (843) 577-7183 or 577-5967
Parking garage at 90 Cumberland St. Mention code ”RCWINTER” to get half-price tickets.  I walk by this gorgeous building on my walking tour and tell about it’s origins in 1736. Just to see the inside is almost worth a ticket price. Ask me about its weird connection to Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. For December, they have 2 great christmas plays for both kids and adults. The first is “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, the classic story of The Herdmans, the worst kids in town.  The second is “A Christmas Story”, based on the classic movie about Ralphie, who wanted a Red Ryder Air Rifle (“You’ll shoot your eye out !”) and his father’s “major award”, a hideous leg lamp (“F-R-A-G-I-L-E, Frageelee, it must be Italian”)


Philadelphia Alley

The Footlight Players Theater Company (estab. 1931)(They’re in their 84th year, folks!)
20 Queen St.  (843) 722-7521 or 722-4487 or 723-7334
A quirky little theater-only 50 seats, adults and kids alike will love it. Volunteer audience participation. Book and gift shop. This old brick building was an “antebellum” (meaning it pre-dates The Civil War) warehouse. It’s a 5-minute walk from The Dock Street Theater. On the left side of the building you’ll see a shadowy brick-n-stone ally. It is actually a public street named “Philadelphia Ally” that is only one block long, from Queen St. to Cumberland St. Walk down it and look for the plaque on the wall that tells about its history. Their Christmas productions are “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Black Fedora”. Parking garage at 90 Cumberland St.

Comedy Mystery Theater. “The Kriss Kross” A merry madcap mystery- clean humor for families. Hilarious “whodunit” mysteries.
164 Church St. Chas, SC 29401
(843) 937-6453

Charleston Music Hall
37 John St.  800-514-3849 or 843-853-2252 or 843-416-8453
“The Charleston Christmas Special” produced by Brad and Jennifer Moranz is a high energy song and dance production with comedy skits. Family Fun.Dec 5th through 20th.
Also at the Charleston Music Hall:
Jazz Artists of Charleston presents The Charleston Jazz Orchestra’s annual “Holiday Swing” Big Band arrangements of favorite tunes.


The new Gaillard Center

The Gaillard Center
95 Calhoun St. Chas, SC 29401 843-242-3099 Interesting fact: The Gaillard Center sits on the location of an old village named “Middlesex”. When the city built the first Gaillard Auditorium in the 1960’s, some houses in bad shape were torn down, but some were relocated to vacant lots throughout the city. And so the old village of “Middlesex” is now disbursed all over Charleston.  Shows throughout December include Charlotte Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”, the Vienna Boys Choir, Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s “Holy City Messiah”from Handel’s “Messiah” and “Holiday Swing”.  Check the website for dates and times.

The Sottile Theater
44 George St. or 327 King St. (it’s on the corner)
The Sottile Theater building has an interesting history. First it was a building from 1855 built by a german grocer. In 1923, an add-on was built, and the whole complex became The Gloria Theater, where a 1939 premier of ”Gone With The Wind” was shown. Charlestonian actress Alicia Rhett attended. She played the role of India Wilkes. Her ancestor, Col. William Rhett, is where Rhett Butler’s first name came from. I walk past his grave on my walking tour and tell about him. Remodeled in the 1990’s and named after Albert Sottile, the “theater king” of the early 20th century.  Below are some of their Holiday Productions.  Please consult the website for times and dates.
The Charleston Ballet presents “The Nutcracker”
“Little Match Girl” Ballet performance
“Night Before Christmas” is a classical kids concert and sing along presented by Chamber Music Charleston

Thirty Four West Theater Co. A 60-seat venue with snacks and drinks for adults.
200 Meeting St. Chas, SC 29401
843-901-9343 is presenting a comedy called the “Jingle Bell Hop”

The Village Repertory Company in residence at The Woolfe St. Playhouse
34 Woolfe St.
843-856-1579 presents “The Santaland Diaries” based on David Sedaris’ book. I’ve read it. He’s hilarious, and not for kids.

Pure Theater The upper King St. area is the new hip place to be. Find out what Pure is doing this season.
477 King St.

Threshold Repertory Theater is a high-caliber live theater in an intimate setting. These little theaters are so cool, so see what they are doing this month.
84 Society St.

Theater 99 Charleston’s home for Improv comedy. Adults. Wed, Fri, and Sat. nights.
280 Meeting St.

Edmondston-Alston House presents “Christmas 1860 Holiday Candlelight Tour” This is a year-round house museum built in 1825. I walk past it on my walking tour. The play is a “moving play”. The audience moves from room to room, as the actors ”come to life” and speak their parts. Christmas of 1860 was very significant, because on Dec 20, 1860, South Carolina seceeded from the Union, the first state to do so. So that Christmas season was a politically tense period. Over the next few months, 6 more states joined them to form “The Confederate States of America”, and The Civil War began in Charleston Harbor in April of 1861. I went to it last year and loved it. It’s for adults who are history buffs.
21 East Battery
843-722-7171 or 843-556-6020
Two fridays- Dec 4 and 11 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Some of the other house museums might be doing something extra for the holidays, so if you are a history nut like me, look them up. I walk past 4 of these year-round house museums on my walking tour. Here’s a list:
Aiken-Rhett House 48 Elizabeth St.
Joseph Manigault House 350 Meeting St.
Heyward-Washington House 87 Church St.
Nathaniel Russell House 51 Meeting St.
Calhoun Mansion 16 Meeting St.

Here are some other museums to check out, and see if they are doing anything special for christmas.
The Charleston Museum 360 Meeting St.
Children’s Museum 25 Ann St.
Confederate Museum 188 Meeting St.
The Powder Magazine 79 Cumberland St. I love this one
Old Slave Mart Museum 6 Chalmers St. I love this one
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon 122 East Bay St. love this one

More later, Amy

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