How does an aspiring actor make his way from a Southern town to the dazzling lights of Broadway? Now, theater enthusiasts and Broadway hopefuls alike can find out firsthand in Charming: A Tale of an American Prince.
The solo cabaret show at the College of Charleston stars Bret Shuford, the College’s Quattlebaum Artist-in-Residence, who shares his own story of becoming a literal Broadway prince. The one-night-only performance takes place on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. in the Emmett Robinson Theatre, Simons Center for the Arts.
“Returning South and reviving my show is such a treat to do at CofC,” says Shuford. “It means a lot to tell them my story, and hopefully inspire them to find their own kingdom.”
With musical direction by Tracy Stark and direction by Lennie Watts, the solo cabaret show is hosted by the College of Charleston Department of Theatre and Dance. Co-written by Shuford and Watts, it tells the tale of Shuford’s trek from his hometown in Texas to the East Village in New York City, folding in the music of Sondheim, Lutvak, Prince and more, with a little Disney magic thrown in for good measure. Friendship bracelets, giants and perhaps even a furry woodland creature help explore the question, “Why should princesses get all the glory?”
Funded by the Quattlebaum Artists-in-Residence Endowment, Shuford is spending the 2018-2019 academic year working directly with students in the College’s Department of Theatre and Dance. The endowment, which was established in 1985, has helped connect students and the community to renowned artists, such as visual artist Christo, pianist Leon Fleisher, former National Endowment for the Arts chairman and actor Jane Alexander, among many others.
Shuford’s Broadway credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid, among other productions. He has also performed as part of the National Tour of Lincoln Center’s South Pacific and has sung with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony and the Fort Worth Symphony. Shuford also has been seen on television series including Law and Order SVU, Alpha House, and films including Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and Bedfellows.
“It’s been fascinating relaying my Broadway experience in practical forms,” says Shuford, who adds that his new role as a teacher has given him a deeper appreciation of that experience. “When you are working all the time you take for granted the things you learn.”
Last fall, he conducted lectures, workshops and master classes on various acting and arts management skills. This semester, he will direct the musical URINETOWN, (April 11-16) part of the College’s current theatre and dance season. On April 18, 2019, he will give a free presentation titled “Business of Broadway,” in addition to the cabaret show.
“I hope this show teaches students the importance of vulnerability – and being brave enough to speak your voice,” he says.
Admission is $10 for students and $20 for the general public. Tickets can be purchased online at theatre.cofc.edu, by calling (843) 953-6306 or at the door.
Featured image: Bret Shuford in New York City’s Times Square. (Photo provided)