By Will A. Davis-
OK, truth be told, I’m not talking about the dance here but one of the many fantastic treats that the Holy City has to offer. Recently I had my first opportunity to visit the Historic Dock Street Theater as well as to attend a wonderful performance of the play “Inga Binga”. This is the story of John F. Kennedy and his brief but intense romance with Inga Arvard, a married Danish beauty, which occurred partly in Charleston in the early 1940‘s.
Though even outstanding plays come and go it has been my experience that the atmosphere and charismatic nature of a theater can enhance immeasurably the experience. And the Charleston Stage Company at this, “America’s Oldest Theater” circa 1736, is one of those venues.
Located on Church Street in the historic downtown of Charleston the building lives among other historical and architectural treasures such at the Huguenot Church, St. Phillips Church (along with their historic cemeteries), beautiful period homes and some of the countries top rated restaurants just to mention few of the many walk able delights before or après theater.
A recent multi million dollar restoration and renovation make the outside and inside of this theater quite unique and charming. The façade and extending balcony with wrought iron motifs is not overly garish and is integrated into the beautiful neighborhood as a part of, rather than, an imposition.
Upon entering the lobby one is greeted by staff who helpfully direct patrons to the ticket office and other necessities. The lobby and ticket office room have significant photos and memorabilia about the history of the Historic Dock Street Theater. The theater itself is a beautiful and intimate experience. The mahogany paneled walls, columns and 16 sections of balcony seating are all well within both visual and audio distance to the stage. The sound system is also quite adequate. One drawback to the arrangement of seats is the fairly small knee space and an entire row must exit for people to get to and from their seats.
At the intermission, break doors in the rear of the seating area open to a beautiful outdoor patio where refreshments are sold. In case of rain or other inclement weather the theater lobby areas are large enough to comfortably handle the attendees.
Actors, stage management, sound and lighting crews provide fine professional results. This only adds to the feeling of being in an historic setting with all the rights and privileges of modern accoutrements.
The many diverse programs available at the theater reach out to all ages from beginner on. One example of the many opportunities is the School Matinee Series which consists of 70 minute play adaptations for school groups in grades K5-8. Ticket prices are adjusted for a savings of up to 58%.
There are summer intern programs (Competitive) and summer art camps also available. Check out the many programs available under the Education link on the theaters website.
The Historic Dock Street Theater is another part of the total experience of enjoying the arts and history either while visiting or living in the Charleston area. The 2012 -13 play line up is now online so please check it out and enjoy another season at the theater.
For more info on the Historic Dock Street Theater and Charleston Stage:
Charleston Stage at the Historic Dock Street Theater
135 Church Street
Charleston , SC 29401
Box Office Phone: 843-577-7183