USC Upstate Theatre Program Brings Live Theatre To Nearly 3,500 School Children With Performances Of “A Toby Show”

April 21, 2010 at 6:32 am

Nearly 3,500 elementary and middle school students and their teachers and administrators will experience live theatre during the month of April thanks to an initiative of the theatre program at the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Fourteen USC Upstate students are enrolled in Rich Robinson’s “Theatre For Youth” course this spring semester and all are involved in the community outreach initiative, now in its eighth year, that is taking the production of A Toby Show to Fairforest Elementary School, Oakbrook Preparatory School, Fairforest Middle School, Gable Middle School, Chesnee Elementary School, Woodland Heights Elementary School, Arcadia Elementary School, and Roebuck Elementary. The cost to the schools is $1 per student.

“This is such a win-win opportunity for all involved,” said Robinson, associate professor of theatre at USC Upstate, and director of the play. “The children are being exposed to a live theatrical performance, many for the first time ever, and they are the most honest audience we could ever hope for. The theatre students are gaining hands-on experience with acting, stage managing and the technical aspects of theatre.”

A Toby Show, written by Aurand Harris, brings back to the stage an American folk character — Toby, the country bumpkin who through naïveté, honesty, and homespun humor outwits the city slickers. This farce-melodrama recreates with traditional situations and stock characters — as well as jokes and stage business — a colorful segment of American drama: the traveling tent repertoire shows. Starring in the Cinderella story, Toby enacts a comic variation of the fairy godmother. With music and specialty numbers, the production excitingly evokes a Toby Show for children of all ages, allowing them the joy of experiencing an authentic example of American folk theatre.

USC Upstate students have four more scheduled productions in the month of April: Tuesday, April 20 at Chesnee Elementary; Thursday, April 22 at 9:45 a.m. on the USC Upstate campus in the Campus Life Ballroom; Tuesday, April 27 at Fairforest Elementary at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.; and Thursday, April 29 at Cleveland Elementary at 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.

The cast for A Toby Show includes: ShaRone Scott as Toby, Leah James as Cindy, Joelle Gwinn as Mrs. VanUndersquire, Justin Glenn as Prince Burtock, Julia LeJeune and Krystal Wardlaw as Sophia, Jessica Semo and Katherine Ragsdale as Mauderina, and Amanda Frierson as the Grandmother. The stage manager is Ashley Wilson, sound technician is Aaron Pate, assistant director is Paisley Jackson and the costume coordinators are Sara Chamblee and Kathryn Yarborough. The play is directed by Rich Robinson, associate professor of theatre.

For additional information, contact Rich Robinson, associate professor of theatre, at (864) 503-5621 or