Footlight Players Theatre Company: The ‘magic’ of live performance in a digital age


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- In a media-saturated world, some would argue that live theatre is slowly declining in popularity.

However, there are people right here in Charleston who have a deep love and appreciation for the art. They believe that every performance is an experience that cannot be replicated by a movie or TV show.

Executive Director Brian Porter believes that magic happens when an audience member becomes a part of the production as a whole.

“The energy that feeds back and forth, you can’t even quantify it. It’s just very magical and you get touched in a place that’s so much more visceral than sitting on your couch at home because you’re actually interacting,” he says.

The Footlight Players have been in Charleston since 1931. Their 88th season is in full swing with the latest production “Born Yesterday.” The show opened on the 11th and is running until Sunday October 27th.

Director Carolyn Kennedy Graupner says that this play is considered a comedy; however, has a powerful underlying plot.

“Born Yesterday ended up being a big surprise because we had no idea it would be so relevant,” she says. “Whoever knew such a widely-known goofy comedy would have so many layers.”

Themes of women’s rights, societal controversies, and even the #MeToo Movement are represented throughout the play.

“It’s a 70-year-old script,” she says. “Actors work texts that we think are old and stale and define moment to moment magic.”

The actors in “Born Again” have put their blood, sweat and tears onto the stage; all for the audience to experience that magic.

One of those actors has a very different day job. Paul O’Brien is a physician at MUSC. He says that acting isn’t necessarily an outlet; but another passion of his.

O’Brien even compares some of his medical profession to his time on the stage.

“They’re not as different as some people think. They’re both about trying to understand people, communicate with people. Both of these persuits are trying to get at some kind of truth,” says O’Brien.

You can see O’Brien perform as Harry Brock; the corrupt, vulgar junk-man and Kelly McDavid as his girlfriend Billie Dawn in the “raucous comedy” with a serious side.

The final show of “Born Yesterday is at 3:00 PM on October 27th. Click here for the Footlight Players’ full schedule.

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