Eric Lavender is one of very few men in the world who can show up for work each day in a pirate costume and expect to keep his job. The licensed guide and professional storyteller, who has been featured on networks such as the Travel Channel and SCETV, also has an unconventional coworker—Captain Bob, a chatty blue and gold macaw who perches on his arm. Sometimes aided by other guides in pirate and colonial garb, he introduces visitors to lesser-known aspects of Charleston's more than 300-year history on walking tours to National Historic Landmark buildings.
During his signature pirate tour, Eric divulges stories of buccaneer revelry and crimes, such as Blackbeard's harbor blockade, or unveils local spooky legends and pieces of Gullah lore on his ghost and pirate tour. Eric also leads custom walking tours and teaches children about pirate lore and city history through his educational programs. And, on pub tours, guides show visitors to some of the city's historic taverns, where they reveal which colonial musicians got their start at open-mic nights.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Low-pressure private sessions allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes and mechanical dancing shoes preprogrammed to do the Charleston. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or cha-cha. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of instruction, demonstrations, and amateur firewalking.
It started small: in 1931, Lieutenant Commander Charles Russell Price directed a series of one-act plays at the Charleston Navy Yard. The series was an unexpected success, and a year later, his band of amateur theater-makers had evolved into an
Jazz Artists of Charleston's Jazz Series summons renowned local musicians to the stage to share in the rich American tradition of jazz music. JAC's fourth annual Jazz Series will take place this May and June during Spoleto Festival season and will groove through jazz styles including modern, bebop, funk, and extra jazzy. Performances take place upstairs in the Gallery Room at McCrady's Restaurant, where staffers serve up libations and farm-fresh cuisine including beef, flounder, and duck. Each Jazz Series set comprises approximately 75 minutes of toe-tapping tunes and people calling other people cats. The special May 31 Holy City Homecomin' show is an annual tradition that changes each year and has become a popular part of JAC's annual programming.
A Charleston institution since 1936, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra gathers internationally experienced musicians to perform popular favorites and classical masterpieces. In this season's opening concert, the orchestra invites acclaimed Broadway stars Rita Harvey, who recently performed in Fiddler on the Roof with Rosie O'Donnell, and Ron Bohmer, whose resumé brims with high-school-track ribbons and starring roles in The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard. As conductor Stuart Malina dishes out Morse code instructions with his baton, singers belt the familiar lyrics of songs from Rodgers and Hammerstein classics, including The King & I, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music. A talented cadre of strings, horns, and percussionists recreate the sweeping sounds of Broadway, led by concertmaster Yuriy Bekker, whose violin has dazzled audiences in the Kennedy Center and music festivals worldwide.
Five-footed lines of iambic pentameter sweep audiences away to Cleopatra’s Egyptian court, where a tragedy of love and lust decides the fates of Rome and Egypt. Actors from the College of Charleston Theatre Department weave threads of passion, power, and lamb's wool into their depictions of handsome Roman general Mark Antony and the beautiful Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. Having neglected his soldierly duties to conduct an affair with Cleopatra, Antony faces the scorn of his triumvir Octavius Caesar and the increasing threat of a rebellion back home. The fates of two empires rest in the balance of his torn convictions, as his indecision sends Cleopatra into a jealous rage and Caesar into a frenzy of salad making. Shakespeare’s linguistic swordsmanship sharpens the poignancy of the play’s five acts, which slither along to a deadly conclusion.