Turnage is more than just a theater

Published 12:46 am Thursday, November 3, 2011

I am the newest Turnage Theaters Foundation board member, joining the board in September, but my enthusiasm for the Turnage and what its success means to Washington and Beaufort County has existed from the beginning.

The Turnage Theater is not just a beautifully restored historic building emblematic of our cultural heritage, which it most certainly is, it also is an embodiment of the belief that the performing arts are hugely beneficial to our residents. It is important to the well-rounded education of our children, important to the stores and restaurants for the potential customers who come to enjoy the many fine performances and important to the pride and satisfaction we have in our community. Can you see why I am enthusiastic to be a part of this enterprise?

I’m certainly not a newcomer to the Turnage experience. I am a native of Washington. My parents were born and grew up in Washington. I attended movies in the Turnage and Reita theaters. I saw the original run of  “The Ten Commandments” with Charlton Heston and the world premiere of “The Lafayette Escadrille” in the Turnage. I spent many a Saturday morning in the Reita watching double-feature movies and numerous serials. Now, I’m newly retired, and I’m supposed to have some spare time on my hands.  Hopefully, I can use some of that time and experience to contribute to the continued success of the Turnage as a cultural center for the performing arts, for community gatherings, for educational programs, for corporate expos and meetings and for private functions for the residents and visitors of eastern North Carolina.  (If you didn’t know, that is the mission of the Turnage Theaters Foundation.)

And did I mention all of the wonderful shows and performances that I have attended since the theater opened? I hope those of you who have also enjoyed those shows and performances will encourage your friends and colleagues who have not been so fortunate to attend in the future. And I hope you will remember that while ticket sales can pay for the costs of performances, there are considerable overhead and loan-service costs that are not covered by ticket sales. The continued operation and success of the theater is dependent upon the contributions, not only from individual patrons but also from area businesses and corporations, and from governmental entities. Yes, this very definitely is something our city and county governments should help provide to their residents, even in hard times — especially in hard times. Just for example, the city could build only a footbridge across Jack’s Creek at Brown Street, contribute the balance to the Turnage Theaters Foundation and benefit many more of its residents. So “call your representatives” and encourage them to be proactive in their support of this most worthy enterprise.

While I’m at it, let me encourage you to attend two wonderful shows coming up this weekend. On Friday at 8 p.m., we will have one of the greatest guitarists of our time, Frank Vignola, on the Turnage stage. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice to many of the world’s finest musicians, and we are so proud to bring his talent to you this Friday night. Then, do you remember “Dancing With Our Stars”? Well, “Encore” on Saturday at 8 p.m. and for just $10 a person, will return some of those incredible acts and some new ones. Seating for that will be general admission, so come early.

See you at the Turnage!

Sam Grimes, a retired judge, is the author of this week’s Turnage Theater column.