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
By Jim Reed/SMN
Those who appreciate a broad swath of cinematic diversions may find themselves trying hard to keep up with all the interesting alternative film screenings in our area over the next seven days. There are, quite simply, too many specialty screenings going on this week to delve very deeply into any of them — but here’s a bird’s eye view of what’s being offered.
Can’t go wrong with ‘The Godfather’
First up is the Tybee Post Theater’s three-night salute to director Francis Ford Coppola’s original 1970s “Godfather Saga.” As we mentioned in last week’s Film Scene column, the Post had previously arranged to screen 1972’s “The Godfather” for one night only, but they have amended that initial plan to now include the second film in that epic saga of Italian-American organized crime, 1974’s “The Godfather: Part II.”
Adapted from and inspired by Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel detailing the trials and tribulations of an ambitious immigrant family with a knack for illegal commerce and a violent approach to business management, these two intensely dramatic motion pictures combined earned a total of no less than nine Oscars. Starring such luminaries as Marlon Brando, Talia Shire, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Lee Strasberg, Robert DeNiro, Robert Duvall and “The” Abe Vigoda, they are considered to be two of the very finest American films of their era.
At 7 p.m. April 6, the Post screens the initial feature, with the sequel shown the following night at the same time. Finally, on April 8, both films will be shown back-to-back in a massive six-plus-hour double feature, starting at 6 p.m. Admission is $7 to either of the single screenings, or just $10 for Saturday’s marathon. How can you go wrong?
Johnny Mercer is expected to ‘return’ to Tybee Island for one evening only this month as the beloved musician’s spirit, stories and recollections come to life once more thanks to Tybee resident Jim Wann. The Broadway actor/writer/producer will host “Johnny Mercer on Tybee,” an evening of music, storytelling and images of Mercer, emphasizing his connections to Tybee Island and his fondness for “outdoor” songs.
The popular and successful songwriter, who was known to draw upon his Georgia heritage for inspiration and ideas, was born in Savannah but had well-established ties to Tybee. Legend has it that as a youth, Mercer could be found sneaking bootlegged liquor with his older brothers and cousins at Tybrisa, and attending dances on the beach.
The original show is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, 2017 at the Tybee Post Theater, which just received a new roof after Hurricane Matthew badly damaged the historic structure only a year after its extensive renovations and grand reopening.
Featured singers in this special program include Savannah’s own Claire Frazier and Patti Kelly, with various approaches to Mercer classics. Tybee’s American Songbook keyboard ace Steven Bryan will lead the onstage ensemble, which includes Ryan Kelly on bass, Matt Fallin on drums, Larry Golden on sax, Bobby Hanson on harmonica, and Wann on guitar. In addition to the music and storytelling from sources who knew Mercer years ago, archival footage of Mercer on talk shows, variety shows and interviews will be shown.
Wann, who lives on Tybee for part of each year, is a renowned composer, lyricist and performer who supports and participates in a number of Savannah musical organizations, including the American Traditions Competition and the Savannah Philharmonic. He has served as a judge and board member for the ATC, and in 2015, the Philharmonic performed one of Wann’s songs, “Christmas in Savannah” at the annual Holiday Pops concert. In New York, Wann’s professional feats include composing and performing Broadway and off-Broadway hits, such as “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, 1982, and has since played across the country and around the world.
A self-described Mercer fan for many years, Wann said he’s honored to present Georgia’s favorite son onstage, before many longtime Coastal Empire residents who personally knew and loved the famed songwriter. He’ll read excerpts from books by Mercer friends and historians Julius “Boo” Hornstein (“Sites and Sounds of Savannah Jazz”) and Polly Wylly Cooper (“Tybee Days”). Archival video of Mercer’s TV appearances will be shown, courtesy of Friends Of Johnny Mercer.
“I was very excited to be asked to develop a Mercer show by the Tybee Post Theatre 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!”
Reserved seating tickets to “Johnny Mercer on Tybee” cost $20 for adults. Premium seats cost $25 for adults, and children’s tickets are $10 each. In addition, special $10 student tickets will be available to attract young audience members. For more information on the show or to purchase tickets, please visit https://tybeeposttheater.showare.com/.
By Molly Hayden/SMN
Singer/songwriter William Florian is the perfect combination of musician and storyteller, blending a reminiscent sound with humor and tales of his own musical explorations.
His origin story began at the ripe age of 22, when he barged in on the famed band The New Christy Minstrels and asked to join. He would, eventually, but his road to fame is as much a lyrical journey as the folk songs he plays.
And this type of wandering is exactly how Florian will entertain during “Those Were the Days,” an evening of music and stories March 31 at the Tybee Post Theater.
During the upbeat show, Florian will share America’s greatest songs of the ’60s, peppered with his own musings. It’ll prove to be a memorable night with the music of Peter Paul & Mary, John Denver, Pete Seeger, The Mamas & The Papas, and uplifting originals presented with amusing stories in an intimate performance.
“There is a lot of power behind the meanings of these songs,” said Florian. “They continue to be relevant today, but they also bring you back to a specific time in your life. They bring up feelings and memories that make you smile.”
The New Christy Minstrels reached the top 40 folk hits numerous times with songs including “This Land Is Your Land,” “Green, Green,” “Today” and “Ramblin’.” All which will have you walking down memory lane with Florian at the helm.
“They bring me back as well,” said Florian. “The song ‘Today’ is a personal favorite and one that was a big hit for The New Christy Minstrels. I’ve sung it a 1,000 times, but it continues to feel brand-new. It allows me to live in the moment and realize how great life is no matter how old we are. That is always the hope for my audience as well.”
Florian is there to provide entertainment, but he’s also grateful for the shared experience.
The show itself is a nod to a pivotal decade in the American folk music revival. It’s an education that remains both timeless and poignant.
IF YOU GO
What: “Those Were the Days” with William Florian
When: 7 p.m. March 31
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave, Tybee Island
Cost: $20 adults; $25 premium seats; $10 children 12 and younger
By Anna Chandler/ConnectSavannah
ke a trip down memory lane with William Florian.
As a former member of The New Christy Minstrels, the Grammy-winning folk music group responsible for hits like “This Land Is Your Land,” “Green, Green,” and “Today,” Florian was a key component in the early ‘60s folk revival. He’ll share songs from his tenure as lead singer of the Minstrels and add in other favorites of the time, including music by Peter Paul & Mary, Pete Seeger, John Denver, The Mamas & The Papas, and more.
With stories and memories sprinkled throughout, it’ll be a journey to the past that captures the true spirit of the 1960s folk revival.
Friday, March 31, 7 p.m., $20 adults, $25 premium seats, $10 for children 12 and under
By Ben Goggins/SMN
A grande dame arrived at the Tybee Post Theater on March 18. She is an 1879 Steinway piano, and on March 22, she was being tuned by Talahi Island resident Anne Acker.
“Like you let a fine wine breathe, we had to give her a few days to acclimate from the rigors of her trip,” she said. “When she left our shop in Pennsylvania last week, there was 3 feet of snow on the ground.”
The piano was donated by a generous family in New Jersey and then meticulously restored by Acker, her husband Chris and their colleague Paul Gebhart. Acker, who plays harpsichord with the group Savannah Baroque and with the Savannah Philharmonic, is a historic keyboard specialist.
“This piano is a perfect size for this space, and she was made by the finest craftsmen during the golden age of piano manufacturing,” Acker said. “We restored her as a labor of love.”
New strings came from the Tennessee company, in business since 1850, which made the originals. Her rosewood was carefully refinished. Every bolt, screw and hinge was re-nickel-plated by a Connecticut company. Exact historic decals came from a specialist in Minnesota.
Acker tunes with the same technique as Franz Mohr, tuner for Vladimir Horowitz and former chief concert technician for Steinway.
“This is a really big deal for us. Sound like this is magical,” said Tybee Post Theater executive director Melissa Turner.
Board members Jim Kluttz and Bill Blakey listened as the sound filled the room and as Acker explained the intricacies of tuning, while playing a little Chopin. And the grande dame seemed to feel right at home on Tybee.