In its nine years as a professional theater company, the Maples Repertory Theatre has expanded its production schedule from three to six full-scale shows, as well as staging occasional cabaret concerts. "No one really expects a town the size of Macon to support professional theatre," says Artistic Director Todd Davison. "We are proving that great theatre is valued by people even if they don't live in a metropolitan area." The company produces its shows at the historic Royal Theatre, named because of the moat that once encircled the VIP seats. Built in 1889, the intimate, 400-seat venue was originally an opera house and underwent an extensive renovation in the 1990s.
When a school of music also contains a live-performance venue, it’s an indicator that the lessons stick. Such is the case with the Columbia Academy of Music, where private practice rooms sit just steps from The Bridge, a club accustomed to welcoming musical talent from down the street and around the country. A stage within range of instruction can inspire even the most stage-frightened students to step into the spotlight, where they’ll get the hands-on, feet-on stage experience that renders books worthless.
The academy’s tuneful staffers are no strangers to this kind of public performance—some instructors have shared the stage with the likes of Chuck Berry, Sting, and Hank Williams III—but many also are experts in what goes on behind the music. In lessons tailored for all ages, skill sets, and music-making manners, the school strengthens the confidence of budding musicians in once-a-week sessions. Instrument instruction infuses students with techniques across a range of musical genres; audio-production and engineering courses teach students how to make solid records and tolerate most singers’ misguided requests for more Steak-Umms in the monitor.
At Valley Speedway, locals gather around the racetrack to watch ULMA late models, Show Me Vintage racers, A-mod cars, and street-stock vehicles compete in open-wheel racing. Races take place on Friday and Saturday evenings and, unlike most parent-teacher conferences, welcome family members of all ages. After gates open, fans can nab eats and drinks before they settle into their seats. Those who prefer a more hands-on approach to high velocities can also register as a driver or take classes at the speedway.
From its perch atop the Bridge Hotel, Carmen's pairs wide-open oceanfront views and city vistas with fresh seasonal cuisine conceived by chef Dudley Rich, who has cooked privately for U.S. presidents. Starters from the dinner menu make apt preludes or small plates, with options such as the eggplant-and-goat-cheese ravioli swirled in a thyme cream sauce ($12). Sizzling with meats sourced from Harris Ranch, veal chops arrive drizzled in truffle butter ($45), and charbroiled filet mignon ($40) fairly accuses its port-wine-and-shallot reduction of smothering it. The entree menu also sates seafood yens with selections such as the peppercorn-crusted swordfish, sauced in a morel-mushroom dressing ($28).
The cyclists of the American Arenacross tour transform crowds into an adrenaline-driven swarm of gasps and cheers with supersonic, gravity-defying competitions. During three-hours of racing, professional riders compete wheel-to-wheel across an arena floor peppered with ceiling-scraping jumps, sharp turns, and obnoxiously long stoplights. Bikers warm up audience applause engines aboard 50cc scramblers before professional riders coast onto the track atop 450cc MX bikes. Mixed in among qualifying and main events, an FMX freestyle jump-off pits high flyers against each other as they perform new tricks and recite cherished haikus more than 60 feet in the air. As an added bonus, Saturday's event includes a complimentary track party from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for all guests with a ticket.
From June to November each year, a cast of actors, directors, and designers descends upon Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre to produce eight celebrated shows, many along the lines of To Kill A Mockingbird and The Music Man. The cozy, unassuming theater has been welcoming performers for more than 50 years, staging renowned productions and Broadway plays to the delight of theater fans and comforters that aspire to be stage curtains.