By Jim Reed/SMN
If you live in the greater Savannah area and have not yet availed yourself of a trip out to Tybee Island’s beautifully restored single-screen movie house, there’s no time like the present.
Over the next few weeks, the intimate, 200-seat Tybee Post Theater offers a number of family-friendly motion pictures geared toward school-age children in search of some air-conditioned fun during their summer vacations. Need specifics? Well, on June 22 at both 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., the Post screens “Lion,” the award-winning 2016 live-action feature about a 5-year-old Indian boy who finds himself lost thousands of miles away from his home and family, and winds up being adopted by an Australian couple. A quarter-century later, he sets out to rediscover his lost relatives. “Lion” stars Dev Patel (HBO’s “The Newsroom”), Nicole Kidman (“Dead Calm”) and Rooney Mara (“Carol”), and was beloved by both critics and audiences alike…..
By Linda Sickler/SMN
The Tybee Post Theater will transform into a 1920s movie palace on June 17.
With a grant from the Georgia Council for the Arts, the theater is bringing back the Silent Cinema Concerts program with a screening of Buster Keaton’s “The General,” considered one of the best silent film comedies ever made. Two short film comedies also will be presented.
The screening marks the 100th anniversary of Keaton’s first comedy.
“It is so much more than a screening of a really great Buster Keaton comedy,” theater director Melissa Turner says. “We’ve got a Savannah Philharmonic chamber ensemble of unbelievable musicians, along with Rodney Sauer from Colorado on our Steinway, playing the score.
“He has his own silent film ensemble, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and has been creating and performing silent film scores around the country using historic music libraries,” she says.
The chamber ensemble musicians are Leslie Johnson, Sinisa Ciric, Peter Berquist and Robin Beauchamp.
The program will open with two comedy shorts. Sauer will also serve as host for the screenings.
“The first one is a very early cartoon movie, ‘Gertie the Dinosaur,’” Sauer says. “It’s kind of a tour de force by a cartoonist with interesting ideas about how to make cartoons move.
“He saw a dinosaur skeleton and wondered if it was a cartoon, how would it move? He wrote it as a multimedia piece.
“He would be onstage as a dinosaur trainer,” Sauer says. “The dinosaur misbehaves and he tells her to roll over and she just goes to sleep.”
Now more than 100 years old, Gertie was the first popular cartoon star.
Read the full story in the Savannah Morning News.
By Joshua Peacock/SMN
Charleston’s Dangermuffin makes a return trip to the region June 9, bringing their usual easygoing sound, a new band member and a brand-new album with them.
Formed on Folly Beach in Charleston, S.C., circa 2008, Dangermuffin came together around the trio of Dan Lotti (vocals, guitar, bass), Mike Sivilli (lead, rhythm guitar) and Steven Sandifer (drums). Drawing from a range of influences that include Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, Phish and The Allman Brothers, the trio began honing in on their own eclectic mix of beachy, jam-infused stylings.
At the center of the project is Lotti’s positive, uplifting spirit that heralds a feel-good vibe, now baked into the soul of the band. Behind him, Sandifer constructs reggae and jazz-infused grooves, while Sivilli, a master guitarist, accents the driving force with a plethora of bending lead parts that draw influence from some of the greatest lead guitarists of all time.
For their sixth studio album, 2017’s “Heritage,” Dangermuffin wanted to experiment with expanding the project’s sound, while also creating unique moments on the new album. This thought came to fruition in a two-fold layout: They added drummer Markus Helander while Sandifer shifted to upright bass and percussion, and they actually recorded portions of the album in a church.
“We have a lot of familiarity with each other and how we write songs and what we’re bringing to the table,” Lotti said. “We have some decent experience with how to go from song idea to a song that’s ready for the studio.”
Most of Dangermuffin’s albums are recorded in their favorite studio, Charleston’s Truphonic. For “Heritage,” they were able to mix it up a bit, using the historic Unitarian Church of Charleston as a host in addition to their regular studio.
“I think it’s the second oldest church in the whole city,” Lotti said. “It’s just got this vibe in there; the natural acoustics. We were able to bring in some nice microphones and capture the natural ambiance of the church.
“You’ll hear it in the lead vocals when the album first starts. There’s an a cappella line and there’s no digital effects on the vocals. There’s a little bit of effects on other stuff, but most of the album was done with this natural ambiance.
“Being in that space — I don’t think any of us are religious by any means — but it was definitely an appropriate place to deliver the songs,” Lotti continued. “There’s a healing aspect to the music. It’s sort of always been that way for us.”
“Heritage” carries on Dangermuffin’s beach vibe with catchy and lush pop melodies, roaming reggae grooves, jazz-influenced chord progressions and Lotti’s soothing vocal lines. Among the album’s strongest tracks, “The Sea And The Rose” dips sweetly into a sea of ease, with a driving groove that, with the assistance of some burning candles, might center your chi on its own.
“We feel we’re aligned with our higher purpose as people,” Lotti said. “This is kind of the message we want to deliver. If you dig into the lyrics, you find a lot of empowering messages about the things that are around us at all times. Working with these natural elements: the ocean, the sun. Everybody has their relationship with these things. I think there’s a lot to be said for that. A lot of people can relate with these things, and they’re sort of bringing about a lot of perspective.
“Heritage is a very old tradition that is connected with our natural surroundings that has been a very strong source of empowerment for a very long time,” Lotti added. “As a society and a culture, we’ve lost touch with that. It’s my hope that the music will help bring people back to their center.”
Dangermuffin is no stranger to Savannah. They’ve come down the highway several times over the years, making a bit of a home away from home on Tybee. The last time they appeared in the Hostess City, they opened for Old Crow Medicine Show at the 2016 Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon.
“There are a lot of connections between the vibe of Tybee and the vibe of Folly,” Lotti said. “Two very similar places. We love that energy. We think we’ve found a little home there.”
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. June 9
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
By Kristopher Monroe/SMN
Who doesn’t love puppets? Only the grouchiest of grouches can deny the plushy appeal of puppetry and the excitement of seeing outlandish creatures and characters brought to life by their makers and manipulators.
Master puppet maker Angela Beasley has been a professional puppeteer for 40 years and is the director of the nationally acclaimed Savannah-based puppet company, Angela Beasley’s Puppet People. Beasley has two puppet shows and puppet-making workshops coming up at the Tybee Post Theater, June 14 and June 28!
Beginning June 9, a retrospective of 45 years of Beasley’s kaleidoscopic creations will be on display at the city of Savannah’s Cultural Arts Gallery through the end of July. The exhibition will include small, hand-and-rod papier-maché puppets and marionettes, as well as life-size mannequins, mascots and parade puppets.
Beasley’s fabulous fabrications have appeared all around the southeast, as well as at the 1996 Summer Olympics ceremony in Savannah and the Con Ojos De Niños Festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As she explains, stage fright in a second-grade school play made her realize early on that she never wanted to be an actress.
“But having your say while hiding behind a puppet and getting to be whimsical, campy, dramatic and make people laugh, too … Whoa!” exclaims Beasley. “How much mischief and fun is a shy person allowed in public?”
Beasley says she found her passion early in life and never looked back.
“Roddy and I had our children when we were very young,” she says. “While he worked and finished college, I immersed myself in the sweet, safe and magical world of children. So when puppetry became a hobby, it dovetailed into all of our lives. My children were my first inspiration — my husband and family were our loyal fans.
“I had never seen a live puppet show, but when I learned how to sculpt a little face in clay, the fascination began! I had always wanted to be a sculptor and this was my ticket. That’s how my passion with puppetry began.”
Beasley volunteered for 10 years with the Community Children’s Theater of Savannah while traveling around the country to conventions and taking classes.
“I can’t remember when the transition happened in my mind from hobby to career, but I was smitten,” she says.
At first she assisted mentor Agnes Durden with performances by the Savannah Leisure Services Bureau and Chatham County Recreation Department, then she took over and performed with her own children.
“As Alyson and Jeffrey grew older, my style grew more commercial and more connected to pop culture and education than to stories and fairy tales,” Beasley says. “Their growing and changing continued to influence my style and content. Staying connected to my dear friends in the puppet world and continuing to learn how to create larger puppets with lighter materials has been very exciting.”
In addition to her exhibition in Savannah, Beasley will also be hosting shows and puppet making workshops at the Tybee Post on two Wednesdays in June, which will include “Cap’n Splatter,” featuring Coretta the sea turtle and her sea creature friends, on June 14; and a puppet cabaret, “Tina Turner’s Dancing Jukebox!” in June 28. More info on those events can be found at tybeeposttheater.org.
IF YOU GO
What: “The Art of Puppet People from the Studio of Angela Beasley”
When: June 9-July 28; opening reception 5-7 p.m. June 9
Where: City of Savannah Cultural Arts Gallery, 9 W. Henry St.
By Linda Sickler/SMN
Welcome to the “twangy-first century.”
On June 2, Michael “Spec” Hosti & Friends will make their first musical appearance at the Tybee Post Theater.
“It’s kind of a big deal to me,” Hosti says. “I grew up down the street from the theater. We used to go to movies there.”
Based on Tybee Island, the band presents both covers and original songs. They add just a bit of rockabilly to classic bluegrass for a style all their own.
“It’s me and the guys in the regular band I play with,” Hosti says. “We play around Savannah. We play North Beach Grill a lot.
“They’re professional musicians. I’ve got a couple more friends I’ve asked to play.
“It’s going to be neat for me,” he says. “It’s probably the first and last time I’ll be asked to play there.”
Hosti is a longtime bluegrass fan.
“We used to ride around and listen to bluegrass when we were younger,” he says. “I got my first guitar at 21.
“When I was about 30 years old, I took up the mandolin and started playing that. A couple of weeks later, I was in a band.
“I’m not a great musician,” Hosti says. “I enjoy singing and wanted to play so I could sing. These guys play with some of the best in the area, as far as I’m concerned.”
Between them, the musicians have more than 100 years of experience.
Hosti plays mandolin and harmonica and writes many of the group’s original songs. He has worked with local bluegrass groups for 45 years.
Bassist Tim Burke has worked as a musician for 43 years, opening for Ted Nugent, Styx, Blake Shelton and many country and bluegrass artists. In his younger years, Burke played in a trio with Tony Arata.
Banjo player Jimmy Wolling has 30 years of experience.
The band’s youngest member is Evan Rose, who plays guitar, mandolin and fiddle. He has toured America with his parents’ bluegrass band, Lonesome Whistle, since he was 8 years old.
All types of music are an inspiration, Hosti says.
“I like country and all genres of music,” he says. “I got caught up in it, I guess.
“I’ve written several original songs. A couple of the songs just tell stories about experiences I’ve had.
“I wrote some when I couldn’t even play,” Hosti says. “When I was a kid, I had a real high voice. I went to St. Michael’s, and the nuns told me I could sing, so I thought I could.”
When Hosti encountered a former classmate 20 years later, the man said, “You’ve finally learned how to sing.”
And sing he will at the Tybee Post Theater.
“It’s going to be great, we’re going to have fun,” Hosti says. “A lot of people there will be family and friends.”
For 38 years, Hosti worked at Fort Pulaski.
“I’ve had a lot of fun doing music,” he says. “Fortunately, I don’t have to make a living at it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Red, White & Bluegrass with Spec Hosti & Friends
When: 8 p.m. June 2
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
Info: 912-472-4790, tybeeposttheater.org
By Kelly Quimby/SMN
The operators of the Tybee Post Theater will no longer have to funnel a portion of their ticket sales to the city under an agreement approved by Tybee Island officials this week.
In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Tybee City Council adopted an agreement with the Friends of the Tybee Theater that lifts the group’s obligation to pay the city $1 for each ticket sold. Instead of a financial payment, the approved document requires the Friends to set aside 16 days each year for the city to use the theater for free.
Councilman Monty Parks, who had asked at a previous meeting that City Attorney Bubba Hughes draft such an agreement, said in advance of the vote Thursday he thought the move was a good one. The benefits of having the Post Theater in operation on Tybee have far outweighed the money owed to the city, he said.
“I think that they bring a level of entertainment to this island that we’ve never seen,” Parks said. “They’re bringing in touring acts, and the fact that they bring in first-run movies is outstanding. They provided a regional stage for students in schools. The Grey’s Reef series has been extraordinarily educational. I really think that they’ve got the right thing going on.”
Parks stressed that the new agreement does not forgive the Post’s debt because it still allows for the city to reap in-kind services. It also ratifies some of the provisions in a former agreement, adopted by the city and the Theater in 2016. That agreement established provisions for the Friends of the Tybee Theater to lease video and audio equipment purchased by the city in exchange for use of the facility.
It’s now been more than a year and a half since the old Army theater reopened to the public with the help of a $65,000 loan from the city, said Jim Kluttz, president of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Tybee Theater, and so far it’s exceeding expectations.
Although, he said, the original estimate was that it would take about five years for the Post Theater to get established, it’s now on the path to being established in three. Kluttz said the theater even has a little leeway in its operations — a heartening fact when it’s only been open for a year and a half.
Pre-sales of tickets to events scheduled for this summer are outpacing the pre-sales from this time last year, Kluttz said, and the schedule has been operating full-tilt during the last year.
“We’ve really made unbelievable progress,” he said. “It really is heartening to see it. I tell the Board (of Directors) just about every meeting: Miracle No. 1 is we opened it, and Miracle No. 2 is we’re going to make it go. The thing’s going to be successful.”
Kluttz said the agreement approved Thursday will amount to a significant savings — an average $1,000 each month — for the Post Theater, which can be used to assist in funding operations.
By Jim Reed/SMN
I mentioned May 25’s one-night-only showing of Blake Edwards’ adored 1961 rom-com “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” at the cozy little historic, single-screen venue known as the Tybee Post Theater (on Tybee Island, natch) last week because it takes place on a Thursday evening. Typically, although printed copies of Do Savannah hit racks around the greater Savannah area late on Wednesdays, most readers don’t wind up seeing said copies until Thursday morning (or, more likely, afternoon). That’s also when subscribers to the Savannah Morning News receive their complimentary issue of Do bundled in with their daily paper.
This means that to make sure as many people hear about Thursday night events as possible, we include them in both the week before and the week of the screening. It may seem a bit redundant to those who make it a point to keep up with this column, but hey, we try to err on the side of caution.
Anyhoo, the aforementioned Hollywood classic based on a Truman Capote novella and starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard as an oddball pair of amorous neighbors in bustling Manhattan is a perennial favorite which — save for a disturbingly offensive “yellowface” cameo by the shockingly non-Asian Tinseltown legend Mickey Rooney — remains a charming piece of trifle. A wonderful batch of supporting players (including Buddy Ebsen and Patricia Neal) round out the cast, and help to elevate the totality of the film beyond its somewhat hacky premise.
If you’ve never seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” my suggestion is that you make a point to catch it on the big screen in a restored theater such as the Post. $10 admission includes a glass of wine (for those of legal drinking age) and a package of Kleenex, in case all the heartbreak on display gets to ya. Showtime is 7 p.m.
By Jim Reed/SMN
The Tybee Post Theater offers up May 11, a one-show-only engagement of esteemed, idiosyncratic director Robert Altman’s 1970 counterculture dramedy “MASH,” starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould. The inspiration for the long-running network TV series of the same name starring Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers, this “MASH” is a far more grim and sardonic take on the Korean War than its television progeny (although that series pushed plenty of buttons and envelopes, for sure). This winner of the Cannes Film Fest’s Palme d’Or and the Oscar for Best Screenplay shows at 7 p.m., and $10 admission includes a piece of chocolate and, for those of age, a glass of wine.
Locally filmed ‘Gifted’
The following Thursday, May 18, the Post Theater kicks off a three-day run of the recently released family drama “Gifted,” starring Chris Evans (“Snowpiercer”), Tony Award-winner Lindsay Duncan (“Birdman”) and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (“Fruitvale Station”).
“Gifted” was shot on Tybee Island and around the greater Savannah area, and locals will get a kick out of the handful of recognizable locations on display (Huc-A-Poo’s, anyone?) in this tale of a precocious and intellectually accelerated 7-year-old girl who’s caught in a bitter custody dispute between her down-to-earth widower father and her self-centered maternal grandmother.
A well-made (if fairly derivative) picture that tugs mightily at the heartstrings, it features standout performances by young Mckenna Grace as the gifted child and newcomer Hai Dang as one of her frustrated math tutors. 7 p.m. showtime each night, with a 3 p.m. matinee on May 20 only. $7 admission ($5 for kids, gifted or otherwise).
By Kim Wade/SMN
The event stretches across three venues on the island and features international wines, fine food and live music. All proceeds benefit the historic theater.
And while the festival is celebrating nine years, Melissa Turner, executive director of Tybee Post Theater, says this is the first time they have been able to actually host an event inside the theater.
“We have a couple of the same events we have every year that folks look forward to … like the dinner at [Tybee Island] Social Club and the Grand Wine Tasting. But we have a new event this year since we can finally host something at the Tybee Post Theater and it’s an Italian wine tasting.”
She says the Viva Italia! event, set for 7-10 p.m. May 5, will allow guests to meet up under the tent to sample great Italian wines with light Italian hors d’oeuvres before heading inside the theater to enjoy internationally renowned vocal band, Poperazzi. The band features George DeMott, Cody Shawn Gay and soprano Janien Valentine.
According to Turner, the band is reuniting just for this show on Tybee and this is the first time for them to perform in the area. They will also have an encore performance at 8 p.m. May 6, which will feature popular songs from “opera to rock” with tunes from Pavarotti, Jersey Boys, Sinatra and The Rolling Stones. Turner says their performances are high energy and a lot of fun.
The festival will kick off with the Art of Pairing event at 6:30 p.m. May 4 at Tybee Island Social Club. The event begins with a champagne reception and the multi-course wine tasting dinner features a full menu of carefully curated items paired with wines selected by Sommelier Thaddeus Miller.
May 6 will also feature the Grand Wine Tasting at Tybee Island Light Station from 3-6 p.m. VIP tickets are available to this year’s event and Turner says those tickets are going fast and will probably sell out.
The Grand Wine Tasting features more than 100 international wines and samplings from the menus of some of Tybee’s most popular restaurants.
Turner says it’s a great day to bring your chair and blanket and stretch out and listen to great music.
“It’s always a great weekend here on Tybee with the festival and the Tour of Homes. It’s all timed so people can enjoy a little of everything offered on the island, which is great.”
IF YOU GO
What: Tybee Wine Festival
When: May 4-6
The Art of Pairing
6:30-9 p.m. May 4; Tybee Island Social Club, 1311 Butler Ave.; $95
Viva l’Italia! with Poperazzi
7-10 p.m. May 5; Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.; $50
Grand Wine Tasting
3-6 p.m. May 6; Tybee Island Light Station, 30 Meddin Drive; $60 or $90 VIP
8 p.m. May 6; Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.; $25
By Linda Sickler/SMN
Bless us, we residents of the Coastal Empire do love our homegrown hero, Johnny Mercer.
On April 21, a celebration of all things Mercer will be held at Tybee Post Theater. “Johnny Mercer on Tybee” will be hosted by Jim Wann, a Broadway actor, writer and producer who spends six months a year on Tybee.
“A lot of elements are going into this,” Wann says. “Tybee folks and Savannah folks feel such a kinship with Johnny Mercer. He said the kinds of things in songs we all think.
“People feel his spirit in the air,” Wann says. “It’s the spirit that draws us to this place. When we’re celebrating Johnny Mercer, we’re really celebrating Savannah and Tybee and the air that surrounds us.”
A lyricist, composer, songwriter and singer, Mercer was also a record label executive who co-founded Capitol Records. He recorded his own songs and those written by others.
Many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time. He wrote the lyrics to more than 1,500 songs, including music for films and Broadway shows.
During his career, Mercer received 19 Academy Award nominations, winning four Best Original Song Oscars, including awards for “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” He died in 1976 at the age of 66 of a brain tumor.
The unique production will include music, storytelling and archival footage of Mercer on talk shows in the 1950s and ‘60s.
“One of the things we want to emphasize is that Johnny Mercer was the creator of outdoor songs,” Wann says. “In the music biz, that’s an actual term.
“His songs are full of birds and critters and rivers and creeks, the rhythms of the South that all Southerners are familiar with that others become familiar with through his songs,” Wann says. “There’s a symbiosis between Johnny Mercer songs and things that enjoy living in this place.”
Mercer often drew upon his Georgia heritage for inspiration and ideas. Born in Savannah, he also had well-established ties to Tybee Island, where legend says as a youth, Mercer could be found sneaking bootlegged liquor with his older brothers and cousins at Tybrisa, and attending dances on the beach.
In addition to Wann, the show will feature singers Claire Frazier and Patti Kelly. Pianist Steven Bryan will lead the onstage ensemble, which will include Ryan Kelly on bass, Matt Fallin on drums, Larry Golden on sax, Bobby Hanson on harmonica and Wann on guitar.
“I’m a ‘pardon my Southern accent’ kind of singer of Johnny Mercer songs,” Wann says. “Claire Frazier is a jazz singer who has been all around the world, opening for Ella Fitzgerald and other accomplishments like that.
“We also have Patti Kelly, who is married to Ryan Kelly, a grandson of Emma Kelly. Ryan is going to play and Patti is going to sing.
“Stephen Bryan of Tybee, a keyboard ace who helped me put together last November’s benefit concert, is going to oversee the band, which also includes other local favorites,” Wann says. “There’s going to be a lot of variety in the music.”
A book signing also will be part of the evening with Wann reading from Julius “Boo” Hornstein’s “Sites and Sounds of Savannah Jazz” and Polly Wylly Cooper’s “Tybee Days.” The authors will sign books in the lobby.
One of Wann’s goals is to bring singers and musicians together.
“I’d like to have a community of singers and musicians here that get together as often as they would like,” he says. “One of my goals is to get some of these folks together to try to be involved in an ongoing thing at the Tybee Post Theater.”
The Mercer show is a result of a collaboration between Wann and the Post Theater.
“Being here on Tybee six months of the year, I want to contribute whatever I can that will work for their supporters and the public. Next Christmas, we’ll probably do a holiday-themed show.
“This is springtime, and it seems like a good time to celebrate Johnny Mercer music,” Wann says. “It’s so full of life and feels good.”
But even the sad songs feel good when they’re Mercer’s.
“Even the sadder songs, if they’re done really well, really touch your heart and make you feel things,” Wann says. “He was such a gifted writer and a great man. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him.”
Mercer’s many sides are reflected in his lyrics, Wann says.
“There are not many people who can write at his level,” he says. “The other sides to him are fascinating.
“There was Johnny Mercer, the businessman who founded Capitol Records. There was Johnny Mercer, the Southern gentleman everyone remembers being so kind and friendly.
“There’s the somewhat darker side that came out when he had too much to drink,” Wann says. “In these videos, I see someone a bit edgy.”
In New York, Wann is known for composing and performing Broadway and off-Broadway hits, including “Pump Boys and Dinettes,” “Diamond Studs: The Life of Jesse James, A Saloon Musical,” “The People Vs. Mona” and “King Mackerel & The Blues are Running.”
“Pump Boys” was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical in 1982. It has been presented across the country and around the world.
In addition to his work in New York, Wann supports and participates in a number of Savannah musical organizations. He has served as a judge and board member for the American Traditions Competition, and in 2015, the Savannah Philharmonic performed one of Wann’s songs, “Christmas in Savannah” at the annual Holiday Pops concert.
“I was very excited to be asked to develop a Mercer show by the Tybee Post Theater and I think the audience will really appreciate the mix of Johnny Mercer tales, music, pictures and other memories we’ve put together to pay homage to one of the best songwriters of the 20th century,” Wann said.
“It’s highly entertaining, thoughtful, lighthearted and personal. I’m eager to treat Mercer fans to this glimpse back to the time he spent on Tybee, and I hope those who love Mercer will tell all their huckleberry friends.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Johnny Mercer on Tybee”
When: 7:30 p.m. April 21
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.
Cost: $20-$25 for adults; $10 for children/students