Kolin and I recently made our first trip to the Savannah Theatre in Savannah, GA to see Southern Nights: The Country Review. Though billed as the one of the oldest theaters in America, I do have to admit the Art Deco appearance of the theater suggests that it was built far after 1818; however, due to several fires much remodeling has taken place throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, the grandeur of old Hollywood greets you as you enter the lobby. A sweeping spiral staircase up to the balcony level is lined with poster sized portraits of some of the actors that have visited the stage. The popcorn and snacks still fill the air with that familiar comfortable scent. After getting a few sodas and a popcorn, we headed into the theater. I have to admit, I was ready for some cheesy, far-out renditions of twangy country classics that I had never heard of….
To my surprise, the show started with a salute to our freedom and pride for our troops with some great upbeat country patriotic songs. Then we transitioned into fun country rock from yesterday and today’s charts. The voices were phenomenal. The entire cast actually was no less than extremely professional and energetic. There were costume changes, jokes, and even a segment with audience involvement. My personal favorite was when the entire cast and talented band came to the front of the stage and casually sat around and just did acoustic versions of some great songs from the Dixie Chicks, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, and the Zack Brown band. I was completely taken by surprise by the amount of real talent and vigor these actors and musicians mustered up every night. The shows at the Savannah Theater are not only worth the visit, I highly recommend one be a highlight of anyone’s trip. Today’s vibrant cast puts on several shows each week and each night boasts energetic singing and acting out of each member.
(The Historic Savannah Theatre in Savannah, GA is America’s oldest continuously operating theater. It opened in 1818 and has since hosted a myriad of wonderful shows and performers. Some notable actors to grace the early stage were W.C. Fields, Julia Marlowe, Otis Skinner, and Henry Irving.)
Azalea Inn and Gardens Bed and Breakfast in Savannah, GA’s historic district is a short walk from the Savannah Theatre.
Old Savannah Tour Company in Historic Savannah, Georgia has created a tour for the entertainment lover appropriately named “That’s Entertainment Savannah!”. Kolin and I met one muggy Friday evening at McDonough’s Bar for a drink or two while waiting for the rest of our tour group to show up. As we waited, we tried to recount the movies we thought had been made here in Savannah. The most notable films, of course, were Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Forrest Gump, and The Longest Yard. We also wracked our brains guessing which parts of town were seen in which movie.
Soon enough, our group was gathered and we filed into the Savannah Theater across the street. Our evening started with an informal but very informative tour of the backstage area of the theater where we met some of the cast members as they were preparing for the show. The Savannah Theater is the oldest continuously operating theater in America! This stunning fact along with other interesting tidbits about past performers is learned on the tour. When the theater tour concluded, we filed onto an air-conditioned bus and awaited the arrival of our tour guide.
While wondering what was keeping the tour guide, we caught sight of a man wearing a light blue checkered shirt, khakis, and a bright red baseball cap frantically running towards us lugging a small suitcase. Once he boarded and caught his breath he introduced himself as our tour guide: “Hello, my name is Forrest…Forrest Gump”! After many surprised laughs and stunned looks, he continued to play along and amuse us with his spot–on impression. He finally broke character and the bus started rolling with “Forrest” as our guide.
While movie scenes were played on a screen at the front of the bus, we were taken to the identical spots for a firsthand look at where many famous scenes had been filmed over the years. Savannah has extremely close ties with many box office hits and directors and producers from all over choose Savannah for its grace, on-screen charm and ability to fit into any time period. The tour was very entertaining and we found the combination of tour and appropriate film clips to be engagingly helpful. By now, I was primed and ready for some real live entertainment!
The tour bus halted to a stop about a block away from the theater as “Forrest” stood up and announced “I think I had too many Dr. Peppers, I have to pee!” He dashed out the door of the bus and scrambled across the square to the theater. As we all let out hearty laughter, we quickly followed suit, not wanting to miss a moment of the Southern Nights Variety Show!
Historic Savannah’s Azalea Inn and Gardens B&B is a short walk from the Savannah Theater.