Local Theatres Join 2016 Pride Festival Lineup with Free Concert at Barnet Park

Simone Mack in Centre Stages hit rock show "Heart Soul."
Simone Mack in Centre Stage’s hit rock show “Heart Soul.” Photo by Wallace Krebs.

In addition to customary entertainment by drag performers like Emcee Patti O’Furniture and Miss Upstate Pride Princess Mocha, as well as the marvelous Pride Chorus of Greenville (South Carolina’s only gay chorus), for the first time in Upstate Pride SC’s 8-year history, local theatres and theatrical performers will grace the stage for a free concert that is sure to knock your rainbow socks off.

And if you don’t own any rainbow socks, you can likely buy a pair at the Greenville-based Out of Bounds booth on Saturday, Sept. 10 at Barnet Park in Spartanburg.

“We want to show people there are bands, theater performers and so many different acts that represent the LGBT community in the Upstate,” Cody H. Owens, advertising and public relations chair with Upstate Pride SC recently told the Spartanburg Herald Journal.

“We try to deliver new experiences and activities with each festival, and I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised with the 2016 march and festival,” he added.

Spartanburg Little Theatre, Centre Stage in Greenville and Fire Theatre Company in Fountain Inn will headline this half-hour set that features some of the Upstate’s top theatre talents in a program of Broadway songs co-sponsored by Carolina Curtain Call and entitled “Pride, Love & Showtunes.” The ensemble takes the stage at approximately 1:45 p.m.

No music spoilers here, but Ben and Blair Dawkins and Brandon Alan Gaunt (who is playing Gaston in SLT’s upcoming “Beauty and the Beast”) will reunite for the first time since starring in the Tony-winning adult puppet musical comedy “Avenue Q” this summer.

Representing Centre Stage will be Simone Mack, who recently starred as Felicia in “Memphis” at SLT and was in the hit music shows “Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay” at Greenville Little Theatre and “Heart & Soul” at Centre Stage.

Zachary Pelicano, Artistic Director of FIRE Theatre Company and FIREside Radio Theatre, and FIRE’s music director Chase McAbee are set to perform with special guests.

Other amazing artists that will take the stage include: Celia Blitzer, who is in rehearsals for “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical” at Centre Stage;  Mary Evan Giles and Jessica Eckenrod ,who are both in GLT’s upcoming “Footloose!”; Shannon Ruhe, who is soon appearing  in “Willy Wonka” at  The Market Theatre Company in Anderson; Tony Glass, recently in the hit Centre Stage play “The Explorers Club”;  Dave LaPage, star of  the Mark Twain comedy “Is He Dead?” at Centre Stage; Blake Logan , who was recently seen on stage as Gomez in Centre Stage’s hit musical “The Addams Family” and as Benito Hoover in the world premiere musical of “Brave New World” at NC Stage Company; and more to be announced.

AIR BUD, Spartanburg’s professional improv comedy  troupe whose members such as Liam MacDougall, Chandler Crawford and Anna Abhau Elliott are also busy actors and playwrights, will also take the stage at Pride with their own set.

Carolina Curtain Call will also have a booth at Upstate Pride, so please stop by and support your local theatres.

“Pride, Love & Showtunes” Performer Biographies


Brandon Alan Gaunt

Brandon Alan Gaunt is currently appearing as Gaston in Spartanburg Little Theatre’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Brandon is a local actor from the Greenville area but has done shows all throughout the Upstate. He recently starred as Princeton and Rod in SLT’s production of “Avenue Q,” Seymour in “Little Shop of Horrors” at Foothills Playhouse and Brad in SLT’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” as well as Converse College’s “Urinetown: The Musical.” He’d like to thank his mom for her constant support and also Amp energy drinks.

Blair and Ben Dawkins in "Avenue Q" at Spartanburg Little Theatre.
Blair and Ben Dawkins in “Avenue Q” at SLT.

Ben Dawkins just wrapped up his Spartanburg Little Theatre debut in “Avenue Q.” He graduated in 2014 with his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in voice performance from the University of Georgia. Performance highlights include Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady,” Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” Ko-Ko in “The Mikado,” Major-General Stanley in “The Pirates of Penzance,” and several roles as a repertory artist for the International Festival of the Aegean in Ermoupolis, Greece. Many thanks to his wife Blair who is his right-hand onstage and off.

Blair Dawkins recently appeared in “Avenue Q” at Spartanburg Little Theatre where she has performed in many shows over the years including “Memphis” (Clara), “The Music Man” (Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn), “9 to 5: The Musical” (Missy), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (Dan’s Wife), “Titanic” (Eleanor Widener), “Smokey Joe’s Café. Much love to her friends and family for their continued love and support.


Simone Mack in Centre Stages hit rock show "Heart Soul."
Simone Mack in Centre Stage’s hit rock show “Heart & Soul.”

centre stage logoSimone Mack is a Spartanburg native and owner of Smack Fitness, LLC. A lover of the arts and fairly new to the theatre scene, Simone recently starred as Felicia in “Memphis” at Spartanburg Little Theatre and co-starred in the hit music shows “Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay” at Greenville Little Theatre and “Heart & Soul” at Centre Stage. Simone enjoys her role as lead singer for the band Okra and has sung with the Carolina Cool Jazz Orchestra and Ballet Spartanburg’s Dansynergy as a featured vocalist. Other theatre credits include “The Civil War” at SLT and “Wild Thing” at GLT.


FIRE Theatre CompnayZachary Pelicano is Artistic Director of FIRE Theatre Company and FIREside Radio Theatre, both based at the Younts Center for Performing Arts in Fountain Inn.  He is currently directing “Little Shop of Horrors” which opens Oct. 7.

Chase McAbee is Music Director for FIRE Theatre Company in Fountain Inn and is a member of the Greenville Chorale. His next show is “Little Shop of Horrors” opening on Oct. 7.


Celia Blitzer
Celia Blitzer

Celia Blitzer is currently in rehearsal for “Jekyll and Hyde: The Musical” at Centre Stage. Past Upstate credits include “Mary Poppins” (Katie Nana/Bird Lady), “Little Women: the Musical” (Aunt March), “Legally Blonde” (Paulette) and “JCS” (Soul Sister) at Greenville Little Theatre; “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (Columbia) at Spartanburg Little Theatre; and “The Addams Family” (Grandma), “Shout!” (Orange) and “The Producers” (Shirley Markowitz) at Centre Stage. Celia hails from Baltimore, MD where she did “Hairspray” (Tracy, Helen Hayes Nomination), “Grease” (Jan), “Nunsense” (RobertAnn), “Children of Eden” (Yonah), “Company” (Marta), “The Fantasticks” (Bellomy), and “Xanadu” (Melpomene). Education: American University (Music Theatre). Thanks all those who make me smile!

Jessica Eckenrod
Jessica Eckenrod

Jessica Eckenrod will be performing in Greenville Little Theatre’s upcoming production of “Footloose!” A native of East Tennessee, Jessica has thoroughly enjoyed her welcome in the Upstate. A graduate of Carson Newman University and with a passion for the arts, Jessica has stumbled into wonderful opportunities. Her favorites include Masterclasses with Jason Danielly, Marin Mazzie, Liz Calloway, Sutton Foster, and writing and producing her original musical, “Story”. Since her arrival to Greenville in 2014, she has participated both onstage and off at several local theatres, as well as, began producing an original song cycle “Letters from the Public”. “Never give up on the arts; they’ve yet to give up on us!” lettersfromthepublic@gmail.com.

Mary Evan Giles
Mary Evan Giles

Mary Evan Giles will be playing Urleen in Greenville Little Theatre’s upcoming production of “Footloose!” Mary Evan is from Greenwood, SC and a graduate of Lander University with a B.S. in Theatre. She has worked with theatre companies across the Upstate, having most recently performed in “Memphis” at Spartanburg Little Theatre, “Heart & Soul” at Centre Stage, and “Letters From the Public.” Some of her favorite credits include Carrie White in “Carrie: The Musical” (Abbeville Opera House), Mary Poppins in “Mary Poppins” (Abbeville Opera House/Greenwood Community Theatre), Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray” (GCT), Narrator in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Laurens County Community Theatre) and Jan in “Grease” (MTP).

Tony Glass
Tony Glass

Tony Glass has been performing in the Upstate for the last four years. Singing has always been his passion, and theatre became his love. So musicals have become an important part of his life. Many shows and songs have been integral in his coming out process. He is grateful to his theatre Family and all the support from the local Upstate community. Tony recently appeared in the critically-acclaimed “The Explorers Club” (Beebe/Irish Assassin) and sold-out “Heart and Soul” music show at Centre Stage, and as Bobby Strong in Converse College’s “Urinetown: The Musical.” He has also worked for Spartanburg Little Theatre and The Warehouse Theatre.


Dave LaPage
Dave LaPage

Dave LaPage can currently be seen in the Mark Twain comedy “Is He Dead?” at Centre Stage in Greenville. Recent credits include “Visiting Mr. Green” at Centre Stage, “Julius Caesar” at Upstate Shakespeare Festival (USF), “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” at The Warehouse Theatre and “The Foreigner” at the Mill Town Players. He toured with The Warehouse Theatre’s educational production of “Hamlet” and has performed in USF’s “Hamlet,” “Antony and Cleopatra” and the title role in “Coriolanus.” He has also worked at Greenville Summer Shakespeare, Foothills Playhouse, Converse Opera Theatre and Spartanburg Little Theatre.

Blake Logan
Blake Logan

Blake Logan was recently seen on stage as Gomez in Centre Stage’s hit musical “The Addams Family” and as Benito Hoover in the world premiere musical of “Brave New World” at NC Stage Company. Blake is a film and stage actor that relocated to the Upstate from Los Angeles two years ago. When not acting, he can be found hiking with his border collie Bolt, singing with the band at Unity of Greenville and teaching acting at his studio http://www.UnderstoryActing.com.


Shannon Ruhe
Shannon Ruhe

Shannon Ruhe will next be on stage in “Willy Wonka” with her daughter in November at The Market Theatre Company in Anderson. A recent transplant from Ohio, Shannon is a teacher at NEXT charter school in Eagle Ridge. Her most recent roles include “GRITS: The Musical” at Electric City Playhouse and Walhalla Civic Auditorium and “Les Miserables” at Clemson Little Theatre. She grew up singing, dancing, and playing clarinet in Pennsylvania and attended music theatre at The Indiana University of Pennsylvania. As a young teacher in Pittsburgh schools she directed many youth performance groups and sang professionally for Studio E band in Pittsburgh with Gary Racon. She would like to thank her husband and children for supporting her to follow her passions in life.


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