“Frederick Douglass…No Turning Back” a Theatrical Triumph – Returning for Spoleto 2019

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By Mark A. Leon

Enter into the Circular Congregational Church, with the harmony of piano orchestrated by Rachel Premo in the background and the slight hint of sunlight radiating through the stain glass. Stage Right, Pastor Brewster and Frederick Douglass walk slowly and sit patiently waiting for the conclusion of the musical number.

At this moment, you are miraculously taken back to 1872.

After a passionately beautiful introduction by Pastor Brewster played with prominence and poise by Clarence Felder, Frederick Douglass takes the podium. As Felder slowly descends from the stage, the dominant Douglass rises from obscurity to voice a generation with his masterful oratory gift and his passion for the brotherhood of humanity.

Over the next hour, acting sensation Kyle Taylor transforms into the embodiment of Frederick Douglass.

Through tremendous adversity, his faith in Christianity and Jesus and his mission to abolish ignorance and promote freedom for all mankind, Frederick Douglass gave a life dedicated to the values of equality. With nothing but faith, he escaped the chains of oppression to find meaning and share his message to the masses.

Kyle Taylor’s one man performance, like the life of Frederick Douglass is filled with courage, hope, humor and song. As he sung the gospel of Jesus, channeling the soulful voice of the likes of Paul Robeson, the audience felt shivers, applauding each note with ovation.

As the final cries of peace concluded this triumphant performance, the entire room rose and gave a full one minute ovation until the moment Taylor exited the church floor.

As Taylor spoke of the journey of Douglass with vulnerable transparency, his emulation of this critical figure in US history began real and the dialogue soon became a metamorphosis. It is rare in live theatre, then an actor can bring to life so much of the pure essence of a character as Kyle Taylor has done with Douglass.

Throughout this one act play, the audience is taken on a roller coaster of emotion from hatred of the ignorance, to empathy for the cause to celebration of freedom.

In one of many entrancingly moving scenes, Douglass recounts the moment his stood up to his Master. It was that act of bravery that not only led to his Master never hitting him again, but solidified the realization he had become a man. This would become the true turning point when slave became leader.

History is driven by moments. These moments are all part of a larger journey. Books, letters and manuscripts paint a beautiful picture and help us piece together the lives of our forefathers, but to bring to life the remarkable story of a single man, whose life led him from slavery to a seat with President Lincoln, takes a respectful act of research, patience and heart.

Chris Weatherhead has orchestrated a piece of writing and direction that is a filled with so much heart and honesty, that is must be experienced. Her dedication to the authenticity of American history and mission to continue to share the stories of our founding fathers and inspirational leaders is a testament to the play she has shared with us.

Kyle Taylor is an absolute triumph. His vision of Frederick Douglass was so real, so raw and so poignant, it may be one of the best performances of the Spoleto season.

See Frederick Douglass:? No Turning Back at Spoleto 2019

No show may be more important to see during Spoleto than ‘Fredrick Douglass: No Turning Back’ – http://bit.ly/2Q8HSDT

Charleston Happenings: Second Sunday on King, Spoleto Schedule and More

2nd Sunday on King Street
Spartina 449
Alex and Ani
Skinny Dip
St. John Knits
This weekend promises to be snow-free, and 2nd Sunday on King Street is ON! Join us for a vehicle-free King Street and immensely popular downtown experience. Sunday noon-5. Free parking vouchers and the 2nd Sunday newsletter are available this Friday.

This Wednesday, January 10: Blue Bicycle Books Charleston Author Series Luncheon introduces Brigadier General A.J. Tata’s newest military thriller?Direct Fire. It’s?his third novel in the award-winning Jake Mahegan Series. Plan now to meet this inspiring author, speaker and national security expert. You’ve seen him on TV, now meet him for lunch at High Cotton and hear about his latest book.

A.J. Tata
General A.J. Tata
This month’s featured speaker is Brooks Melton, Chief Executive Officer of the Newest Bank in the U.S, Beacon Community Bank of Charleston. The Board of Directors is a who’s who of Charleston business leaders, and the audience reflects that demographic too. A few tickets remain, click here for yours.

It’s Restaurant Week, January 10 – 21! Pick your favorite and see what they’re cooking up to entice you with specials. Ready, set, reservations!

Spoleto Festival USA just announced their new schedule. Here’s the press release.? We’ll be watching as Jon Batiste opens the Wells Fargo Jazz Series in our favorite venue, the College of Charleston Cistern Yard.

The January Art Walk was cancelled by many galleries due to the storm, but Reinert Fine Art at 179 King Street will have their Annual Wildlife Artists Celebration February 16 from 5:30 – 8:30pm featuring Lowcountry Artist Mark Beale. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Applications are being accepted January 10 – February 2 for the Charleston City Market’s Night Market. If you’re a talented artisan, here’s your chance!

2nd Sunday on King Street
If you have cabin fever from working at home, get an affordable work base downtown. There are some great–and affordable–office and space sharing opportunities at Office Evolution, Skinny Dip Charleston Edition and the renowned Harbour Club. Each program has its own rewards.

Happy New Year. See you around our wonderful town.
Signature of Susan Lucas
Susan Lucas

“Frederick Douglass…No Turning Back” Presented by Actor’s Theatre of South Carolina

In a one-man play, “Frederick Douglass – No Turning Back” starring Kyle Taylor, Douglass’ has been invited to speak in a church and recount his journey from slavery to be one of the greatest orators and philosophers in history. It reveals his tremendous gifts of observation of humanity, passion for freedom, horrific struggles, relationships with friends, engaging humor and decades as a free American writer, newspaper editor and public leader. Includes incidental Gospel music. Produced by the award-winning Actors’ Theatre of South Carolina.


Chris Weatherhead


Frederick Douglass compiled by Chris Weatherhead

Ticket Prices: Adult: $21

Ticket Prices: Senior: $16

Ticket Price: Student: $16

Call Piccolo Spoleto Box Office or visit: www.actorstheatreofsc.org

BOX OFFICE – (843) 724-7305

Official Event Website

Kyle Taylor – Starring

The Freddy Cole Quartet Illuminates Spoleto with Soothing Playful Jazz

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Four nights; two shows a night of intimate music, meet and greet and a feeling of comfort, romance and seduction.? This is the menu prepared by The Freddy Cole Quartet for Spoleto 2016.? Led by younger brother of the late, legendary musician Nat King Cole, Freddy and his band put on a performance for the ages.

From the moment Freddy Cole walked to the piano, slightly hunched over, greeted the audience with a humble smile and began to tickle the ivory, the intimate audience of 200 knew they were in for a special evening.? As the first lyrics come through the microphone, you were instantly captured as you heard this blessed voice.? It was the fusion of Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole enchanting the crowd with soulful lyrical love making and flirtatious banter.? As he played, he looked over at the patrons sitting just a few feet away and gave that secret smile.

Accompanied by the incredibly talented ensemble of Randy Napoleon on guitar, Elias Bailey on bass and Charleston’s own Quentin Baxter on drums/percussion, the tight rhythmic sounds played into the palates of fans who were reminiscing of the days of Billie Holiday and Count Basie.

Throughout the performance, the band combined romantic journey’s with humorous anecdotal stories.? Best Man, telling the story of losing your love to your best friend and then being the best man at their wedding was a crowd favorite with clapping and laughter during the rendition.

Freddy, at the ripe young age of 84, still has the charm to woe an audience and the energy to give Charleston eight amazing performances over four days.

“Come back to me, even if to say goodbye”

As the evening concluded, Freddy removed himself from the secure front of the piano and left himself exposed, center stage to perform a fitting thank you and farewell to the audience.? With the line, “come back to me, even if to say goodbye, goodbye” and a wave, he showed his appreciation for the fans that continue to appreciate his musical contribution.? A true gentlemanly act.

Music evolves over time, but on occasion, some artists will transcend time and introduce a sound that is truly timeless.

Freddy Cole and his band erased the heat, the modern trials of the crowds on the streets of Charleston and took us on an 80 minute magic carpet ride to the jazz clubs of the 50’s and 60’s and reminded us that at the end of the day, no matter what your age, love is still the reason.