EDITORIAL: A high-energy night out

This weekend and next, the high-energy classic Broadway musical “Anything Goes” stomps the stage at the Gillam Center for the Performing Arts in Clinton. The Laurens County Community Theatre opens the musical just a week after its composer Cole Porter’s June 9 birthday. Porter was born in 1891 and died in 1964. Along the way, he set the standard for the Broadway musical genre that the American Musical Theater has exported around the world. Theater-goers are advised - don’t come to “Anything Goes” looking for a deep meaning, a dark and reflective theater experience. This is a toe-tapper. “Anything Goes” tells the tale of a Depression-era ocean voyage in the days when nightclub singers “evangelized” and mobsters rated their reputations by where they fell on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. It is a tale of disguises and trickery, of “opposites attract”, and something never seen in drama - Tom-foolery. These are the kinds of productions LCCT likes to bring to Laurens County audiences during the summer. This is the 2015-16 season ender. It is a production forged during the rush-around of the end of the school year. One of its principals was a major force in staging “Grease” at Clinton High School. Another of its performers just recently sang at Carnegie Hall. That is just some of the diverse talent that the Laurens County Community Theatre can muster during its productions. This is not a children’s show, but supporting this show makes youth productions possible. Traditionally, the summer musical should be a money-maker - a driver for the season coming next. It is light-hearted fare in keeping with the carefreeness of summer and vacations. If you can’t take a cruise this summer, this is the next best thing. If you see “Anything Goes” this weekend and next - and we certainly hope all of you do - take a minute to admire The Gillam Center. This jewel on the Thornwell campus replaces the LCCT’s former quarters at the now-shuttered Florida Street School. Once the headquarters of District 56, the building has fallen into disuse, and we certainly hope that one day its new owners can muster the resources to bring it back to life. LCCT used to present its shows in a cracker-box. Now, the stage is not grand but it is certainly impressive. Everyone’s continued support will make it even grander. There are many, many needs at The Gillam Center to be met before the theater can be on the same plane as the Abbeville Opera House. But it is ours. It belongs to our county, it is a reflection of how we value the arts. (The Gillam Center is a partnership among Laurens County Community Theatre, the City of Clinton and Thornwell Home for Children.) It can be so much more. More concerts, more appearances by “name” performers, more of what a community should come to expect from its cultural center. Our current cultural center, Presbyterian College, will not suffer with The Gillam Center’s rise. The two arts hubs complement each other; they are, literally, across the street from each other. The Gilliam Center is part of Thornwell’s resurgence. Next month, Thornwell will embark on a major expansion of its educational mission. It is training a new batch of teachers; and if there were such a thing as an “education industry,” the governor herself would be here to cut the ribbon on this one. Clinton might not have industry, but we are second to none in our development of “people power.” Art drives that empowerment. So, park your cares and woes at the big glass doors, and walk on in. For two hours, you have a “de-lovely” experience awaiting you. It’s not Broadway. It’s not even off-Broadway. It is your neighbors in the Cole Porter musical that laid Broadway’s foundation. Don’t let it sail off without you. (“Anything Goes”, directed by Joey Giles, is staged this Friday and Saturday, and June 23-25 with a 7:30 p.m. curtain at Laurens County’s cultural center, The Gillam Center for the Performing Arts, in Clinton. Tickets are $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, purchased at the door.)

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