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Film Scene: Notable big screen programming at the Post with The Slayer, Jaws & The Jungle Book

By Jim Reed/SMN

Tired of the same-old, same-old that tends to clogs up our corporate multiplexes? Well, while the temperatures and humidity levels continue to soar, the next seven days provide plenty of alternative cinema-related events in the greater Savannah area — all of which are perfect excuses for getting inside and out of the heat.

Variety on the island

This week’s look at notable big-screen programming options begins with the historic Tybee Post Theater, which will offer three very different features this week — starting with the recent, live-action-meets-CGI remake of Walt Disney’s 1967 animated feature “The Jungle Book.” Based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic children’s tome and directed by “swinger” Jon Favreau, this 2016 box-office hit is narrated by Sir Ben Kingsley and stars the voice talents of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson and Gus Fring himself, Giancarlo Esposito. It’s the story of a young, orphaned boy named Mowgli who sets out on an ambitious and treacherous journey, aided by a host of helpful animals. But you knew that already, right? “The Jungle Book” shows twice, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. June 29, with admission ranging from $5-$7.

‘The Slayer’

Then, the very next night (June 30), the Post shifts gears tremendously for a special, one-show-only screening of the ultra-obscure, low-budget 1982 horror flick “The Slayer.” Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “That doesn’t sound like something the Tybee Post Theater would show,” you’d be correct.

However, there are two good reasons why this creepy tale of a young girl’s terrifying nightmares come to life is being presented at this restored, 200-seat venue: 1. The entire film was shot on Tybee Island (including inside the decrepit, unrestored theater), and 2. The filmmakers are currently back in this area to shoot new footage for supplemental features on a forthcoming home video reissue of the film (which was also released under the alternate title “Nightmare Island” in some parts of the world).

Odds are that some of the locals in attendance at this screening will have helped (in some capacity) with the production of this film 35 years ago. That, and the fact that the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss the picture with the audience after the show make this a can’t-miss event for horror movie fanatics as well as aficionados of Tybee Island history. Be advised, this is a gory motion picture that many feel made a significant, unacknowledged impression on esteemed writer-director Wes Craven and his later “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise. Which is to say, it’s rated R, and only suitable for mature viewers. 8 p.m. showtime, with $10 admission.

Shark attack

And finally, July 2, the Post once again offers up a perennially popular thriller: Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster “Jaws,” starring Roy Scheider (“Blue Thunder”), Richard Dreyfuss (“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz”) and Robert Shaw (“Figures in a Landscape”) as three dedicated shark hunters in search of a vicious, man-eating great white that’s really making things difficult for a tourist-dependent beachside community. Odds are you’ve seen “Jaws” at some point in your life, but if you have never experienced it uncut and on the big screen as its creators intended, then you haven’t really seen it, have you? Two shows only, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., with $7 admission ($5 for kids 12 and younger).

Fabulous Equinox Orchestra concert followed by march to fireworks

By Linda Sickler/SMN

On July 4, “Equinox Orchestra: Tybee Island Swings!” will feature the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra in concert at the Tybee Post Theater. After the concert, the orchestra will lead the audience in a New Orleans-style march to the beach for fireworks.

“It’s going to be a fantastic salute to our veterans and ex-military,” says vocalist Clay Johnson. “We’ll have the 11-piece band in the Tybee Post Theater and do a huge show with the greatest hits of our catalogue and the catalogue of America.

“We’ll close it out with a big New Orleans-style second-line parade down to the beach,” he says. “There will be fireworks on the Fourth.”

Film Scene: Week’s screenings bring both classic and new animation

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…..

Return to Roaring ’20s with silent comedy classics and live accompaniment

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.

Charleston’s Dangermuffin returns to Tybee, their home away from home

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

What: Dangermuffin

When: 8 p.m. June 9

Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave.

Cost: $15

Info: tybeeposttheater.org

Angela Beasley displays passion for puppetry

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.

Cost: Free

‘Red, White & Bluegrass’ with Spec Hosti & Friends set for Tybee Post Theater

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.

Cost: $18-$22

Info: 912-472-4790, tybeeposttheater.org

Tybee officials release Post Theater’s financial debt

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.

Film Scene: Audrey Hepburn on the island!

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.

 

Special screenings: M*A*S*H and Gifted at the Post

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).

Upcoming Events
  1. “Suburbicon”

    November 24 - November 26
  2. “A Christmas Carol”

    November 30 - December 2
  3. “No Ordinary Love,” Danielle Hicks Sings Sade

    December 8 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  4. Malcolm Holcombe w/Jason Bible

    December 9 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
  5. Tybee’s 1st Annual Christmas Cabaret!

    December 16 @ 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm
  6. Ken

    January 12, 2018 - January 14, 2018
  7. The Great American Trailer Park Musical

    March 23, 2018 - March 24, 2018
  8. The Great American Trailer Park Musical

    March 30, 2018 - March 31, 2018
  9. Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine

    May 25, 2018 - May 27, 2018
  10. Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine

    June 1, 2018 - June 3, 2018