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The Footlight Players names long-time actor Brian Porter as new executive director

The Footlight Players has hired long-time thespian Brian Porter as executive director of Charleston’s longest-producing theatre company. Porter spent the last decade on staff at Charleston Stage, most recently as director of administration where he oversaw daily operations of the professional theatre company. Porter replaces Jane Broadwater, who retired in January after serving three years as executive director. She also was a member of Footlight’s board of directors before taking on the executive director title. Under Broadwater’s leadership, The Footlight Players expanded its theatrical season while providing opportunities for other theatres and performance groups to rent the Queen Street theatre during its off-weekends and summer season. Porter has been performing on stage since childhood, earning a bachelor’s degree in theatre in performance from Purdue University in Indiana. After graduation, he moved to Memphis, Tennessee, as a member of Playhouse on the Square’s Resident Acting Company. He then co-founded a theatre company in Michigan before relocating to Atlanta to pursue a career in media advertising. Porter maintained ties to local theatre and served as interim executive director of OnStage Atlanta. After several years in Atlanta, Porter relocated to Charleston, working as media director of Davis Advertising before returning to his theatrical roots and joining Charleston Stage. Now, Porter will take on the role of leading one of Charleston’s most prestigious community theatres. He plans to build on Footlight’s mission to provide quality and affordable community theatre as well as continuing to promote the theatre as a unique space for Charleston special events and performances.

“I am delighted to be a part of such an historical and dynamic theatrical fixture in Charleston,” Porter said. “I look forward to working with this exceptional team of artists to create something truly unique and beautiful for Charleston. I am confident I can bring a lot to the company and infuse it with my passion and love of the performing arts.”

Porter is also the co-founder of the local theatre company What If? Productions, which is now in its eighth season in Charleston. A celebrated artist and vocalists in Charleston (and current Best Actor nominee for the Charleston City Paper Best Of award), Porter has appeared on stage in many memorable roles in Charleston, including “Peter & the Starcatcher,” “Cabaret,” “Hedwig & the Angry Inch,” “The 39 Steps,” “Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story,” “Shear Madness” and “Hairspray.” He recently headlined his own sold-out cabaret show, “An Evening With Brian Porter,” as part of What If?’s popular Piano Bar Series.
About The Footlight Players The Footlight Players launched in 1931 with a series of one-act plays directed by Lt. Commander Charles Russell Price at the Charleston Navy yard. The series was such a success and drew such a following that The Footlight Players formally organized and incorporated in the fall of 1932. To this day, The Footlight Players continues to provide professional quality, affordable community theater for the Lowcountry at the historic Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. in Charleston. For more information, visit footlightplayers.net or call 843-722-4487.

Former Charleston mayor among recipients of inaugural Anthony Aston Honor

Joe RileyFormer longtime Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley and Charleston theater veterans Patricia and Emmett Robinson are the inaugural honorees of the Anthony Aston Honor established by The Footlight Players of Charleston, S.C. Riley, along with the Robinsons (posthumous award), will be recognized at the first Anthony Aston Gala on Tuesday, May 17 at Hibernian Hall, 105 Meeting St. in Charleston. The Footlight Players board of directors voted in 2015 to create this award to recognize individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the arts or cultural life of Charleston. The award is named for Anthony Aston, a British actor, playwright and poet, who landed in Charles Towne in 1702 after being shipwrecked on the Carolina coast near Port Royal. In 1703, Aston wrote and performed “The Country,” thought to be the first play ever produced in America. “The Aston Honors is another first in a great city of firsts,” said Jim Gooden, board president for The Footlight Players. “We are excited to formally recognize the United States’ first playwright and at the same time, others who have contributed mightily to advancing the performing arts in Charleston.” Joe Riley was first elected mayor of Charleston in December 1975, and went on to serve an unprecedented 10 terms. During Riley's tenure, the City of Charleston saw a substantial decrease in crime, a revitalization of the historic downtown business district, the creation and growth of Spoleto Festival USA, an expansion of the city's park system, and the development of affordable housing. Among the numerous awards given to Riley over the years, he received the 1982 Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Award from the S.C. Arts Commission for outstanding contributions to the arts. In January, Riley joined the faculty of The Citadel as the first occupant of an endowed Professorship of American Government & Public Policy created in his honor with the mission of documenting and teaching lessons of principled, bipartisan and effective leadership in pursuit of excellence for the public good. Patricia and Emmett Robinson were synonymous with theater in Charleston for almost 30 years. Actor, stage designer, writer, artist and director Emmett Robinson moved to Charleston in 1931. He became the managing director of The Footlight Players in 1935. In 1937, a 22-year-old Emmett produced, directed and designed a production of “The Recruiting Officer” for the grand re-opening of the Dock Street Theatre. In addition to producing and directing hundreds of plays and musicals, he also designed and built the set for the 1970 production of “Porgy and Bess.” He also was responsible for several exhibits and other civic projects with the Charleston Museum, the Exchange Building and several churches and schools. He died Dec. 25, 1988. Patricia Robinson was a well-known and beloved Charleston author, poet, playwright and actress. She moved to Charleston shortly after graduating from Cornell University in 1944. She then began writing plays that reflected the unique character of her adopted city. In 1950 she married Emmett and they had two daughters, Jennet Robinson Alterman and Alix Robinson Tew. In the following years, she wrote both plays and musicals and on many occasions performed herself. She wrote or co-authored seven novels, setting many of her stories in Charleston. She died in 1998. The mistress of ceremonies for the gala is Charleston native Lauren Hutton. Considered the first supermodel, Hutton has graced 10 covers of European Vogue magazines and 27 covers of American Vogue. In film, she has starred alongside Robert Redford, Richard Gere, Gerard Depardieu and Jim Carrey. As a role model for her generation, she has shown how to successfully age and navigate transitions, maintain a healthy lifestyle and engage in environmental and women’s health issues. Tickets are on sale for the Aston Gala at www.footlightplayers.net or by calling the box office at 843-722-7521. This black-tie optional gala includes a seated dinner. Individual tickets are $150 each. Individual benefactor tickets are $275 each and include a pre-event VIP reception with Joe Riley and other distinguished guests. Proceeds from the event will benefit The Footlight Players in its preservation, education and operations endeavors, which include maintaining a historic theater and producing multiple shows annually. About The Footlight Players The Footlight Players was founded in March 1931 by leaders of the Charleston Renaissance, including Alfred Hutty, DuBose Heyward, Selma Tharin Furtwangler Dotterer and Eola Willis. The Footlight Players launched with a series of one-act plays directed by Lt. Commander Charles Russell Price at the Charleston Navy yard. Now in its 84th season, The Footlight Players continues to provide professional quality, affordable community theater for the Lowcountry at the historic Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. in Charleston. For more information, visit footlightplayers.net or call 843-722-4487. Via: The Footlight Players