By Brian Reed
Hollywood studios have been known to shoot some of today’s most popular films in the Carolinas, but movie stars aren’t the only entertainers to call these states home. The Carolinas boast an array of entertainment that originates within the states.
With options such as Broadway favorites, high-flying adventure and world-renowned music, groups will find live entertainment to fit most any taste on a trip to North Carolina and South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Myrtle Beach offers some of the best variety and quality of live entertainment in the country, and many of its most famous venues are opening new shows this year.
“Pirates Voyage” opened last May in the old Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede venue. Parton and her team created the new show concept last year to freshen up the experience at a longtime favorite attraction in the area.
“‘Pirates Voyage’ is a dinner show with pirates doing acrobatics off high dives and trampolines into the water, with buccaneers battling one another, and animals like sea lions and wild birds,” said Sandy Haines, group tour sales manager at the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Carolina Opry has received a huge makeover with the addition of around $1 million worth of laser lights. The seven different 45-minute light shows that groups can enjoy highlight classic rock, family music, Christian music, holiday favorites and shows featuring the music of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin or the Beatles.
“Groups can schedule a private light show any time other than scheduled shows. That works well with students or Christian groups who might want a late night show,” said Haines.
The opry also features a new emcee, former “American Idol” contestant Nathan Herron.
The Alabama Theater has also revamped its show with Broadway music.
“They had songs from ‘Mary Poppins’ [the movie] in the show for a while, but they brought in songs from ‘Wicked’ for the Broadway segment,” said Haines. “It is really excellent.”
“Rock Around the Clock” is the newest production in the intimate King’s Theater at the Palace Theater. The show features rock ’n’ roll classics of the 1950s.
Finally, in 2011, Legends in Concert moved into its new venue at Broadway at the Beach, next to Planet Hollywood. The new location features state-of-the-art lights and stage with plenty of hotels and food options close by.
Flat Rock Playhouse
Flat Rock, N.C.
Thirty minutes from Asheville, N.C., groups can experience what has been dubbed Broadway in the Mountains. The Flat Rock Playhouse has two stages, a 250-seat auditorium in downtown Hendersonville, N.C. built in 2011 and a 506-seat auditorium-style theater dubbed the Mainstage in Flat Rock.
“We have an amazing season in 2012 as we celebrate our 60-year anniversary,” said Pam Collins, director of group sales.
This season offers a variety of shows, including “Nunsense,” “Red,” “Proof,” “The Marvelous Wonderettes,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Striking Twelve” and “Music on the Rock,” at the Playhouse Downtown. Main Stage will feature “The Spitfire Grill,” “The Fox on the Fairway,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Noises Off,” “Almost Maine,” “Zelda — An American Love Story,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Nutcracker.”
“The great part about being in the area of Flat Rock and Hendersonville is that there are several local attractions to include in an itinerary,” said Collins. “We also have some great local restaurants that welcome groups — Mama Christina’s, the Tractor Shed, Flat Rock Wood Room, Cafe on the Veranda and Highland Lake Inn.
“Our visitors center will also work with groups requesting step-on guide service.”
North Carolina Theatre
There is a creative spirit rising out of the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and groups can experience it at the North Carolina Theatre. The company has been performing since 1984 and stages at least four major productions a year. It found a niche by producing quality musicals with a mixture of top national performers and the best local talent.
“If a group is unable to make it to New York City to see a Broadway show, North Carolina Theatre is the perfect stop since we produce Broadway quality shows exclusively for the Triangle area,” said Kristin Buie, communications and company manager at North Carolina Theatre.
The 2012 season started with “Green Day’s American Idiot,” “Les Miserables” and “Steel Magnolias,” and will be followed by “Oliver!” July 12-22, which returns to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, and “Legally Blonde the Musical” Oct 9-14.