Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Joe Papp at the beautiful, historic Lucas Theatre

The Outer Banks, NC, to Savannah, GA -- 9/13/12
By Karen Thorsen

Up at 6:30AM – never quite enough sleep, the way my particular tour is scheduled – and, after a last glimpse of the beach, the long drive back to Virginia, the rental car turn-in and the Norfolk Airport.  3PM:  After two airplanes, my rental car pickup and the drive to Savannah, I finally arrived at the Planters Inn, literally across the street from the Lucas Theater.  A beautiful hotel, more like a luxurious home… and my corner room had a view of the park and a four-poster bed! 

I then checked in with the team at Lucas and learned the history of this spectacular theater:  built in 1921, back when organists provided the soundtrack for silent stars like Rudolf Valentino, it was shut down for a few decades and then recently refurbished, ornate molding included – and now offers everything from art films to opera.  We did a quick test-run, swapped their DVD copy of JOE PAPP for the Blu-Ray I’d brought with me and then adjusted the reds on their projector:  much better! 

I now had two hours left before the screening.  A nap?  A trolley tour of the city?  I was advised against the tour (“too many lies!”) and wound up literally criss-crossing the city in my rental car (by request, NOT a Ford Focus), following my well-marked tourist map.  I explored streets lined with 18th century homes and spreading oaks dripping with Spanish moss, stopping every so often to read a historic plaque or to walk down an old sidewalk.  What a graceful and elegant city!  Its history is so well-preserved, from the old parks and fountains (literally every few blocks) to the cobblestoned riverfront walkways.  And the food is great too:  based on a suggestion from friends who have lived in Savannah, I ate at the Crystal Beer Palace on Jefferson Street.  First opened in 1933, it hasn’t changed much since then – and now serves a wide range of southern treats and a remarkable beer list.  Highly recommended:  crab stew, fried shrimp & oysters, Ocilla slaw, peach cobbler… That’s more than one person can eat, but worth the adventure! 

Then back to the Lucas, just in time to watch Joe Papp In Five Acts on the very big screen, do a Q&A full of anecdotes and then answer more questions at the closing reception.  Truly a gorgeous projection and venue – and the largest crowd we’ve had yet.  (Tracie, I’m sorry you missed this!)  The conversations were so animated, they spilled out into the street after we left the theater – and as a final treat, I took the free ferry across the river and back, just to say goodnight to the lights of Savannah.