Set for Nov. 25 and 26 at the Tybee Post Theater, the production is being presented to raise money for the theater. Hurricane Matthewdestroyed the theater’s 10-year-old roof, which resulted in interior flooding on the stage and in the lobby and ticket office.
“We suffered the same fate as a lot of other folks on Tybee,” says Melissa Turner, executive director of the Tybee Post Theater. “Welost half the roof during Hurricane Matthew, and with our $75,000 deductible, insurance didn’t cover it.
“The roof is half destroyed, but we must replace the whole thing,” she says. “We unfortunately need to do a fundraiser because wedon’t have the money for something that was completely unexpected.”
While two weekends of programming were lost, the situation could have been much worse.
“This is the first hurricane the Post Theater has ever endured,” Turner says. “While we lost the roof, which was only put on 10 yearsago, the rest of the building stood strong.”
The Tybee Post Theater dates to the 1930s. It reopened last year after a long community effort to restore it into a performing arts andmovie theater.
“There will be two different performances, one in the evening, and a matinee of sorts at 4 p.m. on Saturday,” Turner says. “A lot offolks in Savannah don’t like to drive home from Tybee at night, and this way, they can come out and make a day of it.”
The show is produced and directed by Jim Wann, a part-time resident of Tybee who was the lead composer and leading man of theBroadway hit “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” The first Broadway show to put musicians on stage as major characters, it was nominated fora Tony Award for Best Musical.
In collaboration with Bland Simpson and Don Dixon, Wann also created “King Mackerel & the Blues are Running: Songs & Stories of theCarolina Coast.” It is a small, three-man musical with storytelling, songs and video.
Wann has long been involved with the renovation of the Tybee Post Theater.
“My wife, Patricia, and I have supported the Post Theater from around the turn of the century on,” he says. “It’s always been a goal ofours to see those doors open again.
“We had a couple of sold-out runs on Broadway in New York with ‘King Mackeral & the Blues.’ It was done on Tybee as a benefit for thePost Theater in 2002 and 2006.
“I haven’t performed in the new theater yet, so this is a great opportunity to jump back in,” Wann says. “I want it to be a lot of fun,especially because it is a benefit.”
The show has been in the planning stages for a while.
“I was talking to some folks at the Tybee Post Theater about a holiday show, probably going back about a year,” Wann says. “They’djust opened their doors and there wasn’t time to put anything together for 2015.
“We kept it in mind and started talking it over,” he says. “After the hurricane hit, I spoke with Melissa Turner and said, ‘If you still want aconcert the weekend of Thanksgiving, why not do it as a benefit?’”
The benefit is sorely needed.
“They patched up the roof temporarily and cleaned up inside so the doors could be open,” Wann says. “But the roof is going to needmore of a permanent fix.
“Since it’s a community resource, I thought I’d see if I could round up some local musicians I knew but had never worked with,” he says.“I’ve always admired them.”
Wann will open the show.
“I’m doing a couple of my own songs, some James Taylor and a standard or two,” he says. “The concert will be a mixture of soul music,pop music and standards and rhythm and blues. The joint will really be jumping.”
Steven Bryan, a native of Savannah who now lives on Tybee Island, is the musical coordinator of the show. A keyboardist, Bryan touredwith The Coasters and Little Anthony and The Imperials, and has served as musical director and sideman for several jazz and rockgroups.
“He traveled the world and ended up back in Savannah on Tybee,” Wann says. “He’s a wonderful keyboard player. He’s ideal as amusical coordinator.”
Popular standards and gospel singer Kim Polote, who was honored recently as the 2016 Artist of the Year by the Sonata MusicAssociation, also will perform.
In Plains, Ga., Polote sang for President Jimmy Carter at his church. In the documentary, “Savannah and the Civil War,” she portrayedSusie King Taylor.
A graduate of St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah, Polote has a new album called “Change.” Her other recordings include “I ThoughtAbout You,” an homage to Johnny Mercer, and a Christmas CD, “Seasons of Love.”
“Kim Polote I knew from the American Traditions Competition,” Wann says. “I was a judge the last couple of years and got to know Kimwhen she did a concert for the ATC.
“I’ve always admired her work. Between me singing some and her singing some and all of us singing with the band at some point, Ithink it will be a lively show,” he says. “People will be dancing in the aisles, for sure.”
Tradewinds, a soul and rhythm and blues band from Savannah, will be accompanied by Bryan to perform holiday songs and beachmusic. The show will be lighthearted and humorous.
“There will be songs that will reference the situation, like ‘Up on the Roof,’” Wann says. “There’s bound to be a rain song in theresomewhere.
“It’s intended to buoy our community spirits in the wake of a pretty devastating storm. We were lucky in many, many respects.
“Everyone feels fortunate Tybee Island is still here,” he says. “A lot of people had trees down and damage to their homes, while someother folks had flooding and a longer way to go to get back to normal.”
But morale remains high.
“Community spirit has always been terrific here,” Wann says. “It’s been wonderful to see how neighbors help neighbors.’
The Post Theater hosts both community productions and touring acts and shows.
“It’s a wonderful tradition, so we want to do our part,” Wann says. “It’s a lot of fun for us.
“For so long, I’ve been out here and there wasn’t even a roof on the theater. It was just rubble and daylight was shining in.
“This is a remarkable thing that this theater has come so far thanks to the generosity of so many people,” he says. “It has about 200seats, which is a great size, and it’s already successful.”
The effort put into restoring the building was more than worthwhile, Wann says.
“I think it’s going to be a great resource for Tybee and the greater Savannah area,” he says. “It’s a wonderful thing it’s operationalagain. I couldn’t be happier.”
The Thanksgiving show is a good match for the theater.
“This is just something really different for us out here on Tybee,” Turner says. “It has some really first-class music and musicians comingtogether in a variety show.
“It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind musical variety show that will build and build to a crescendo at the end. There will be a great holidaysing-along.
“Everybody has family here for Thanksgiving and Tybee fills up just like in summer,” she says. “This is going to get everyone in theholiday spirit.”
IF YOU GO
What: A Tybee Thanksgiving Musical Celebration
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 25; 4 p.m. Nov. 26
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave., Tybee Island
Info: tybeeposttheater.org, 912-472-4790