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Charleston Acting Studio spins a golden tale: Local actors brings theater, acting classes to James Island

BY MEREDITH POWELL

Sheri Grace Wenger and her son, Ryan Ahlert, opened the Charleston Acting Studio on James Island a little over three years ago for youth (6-9 and 10-13 years old) and adults, but their building has recently undergone some spectacular renovations to include two larger performance areas. Though they are both accomplished actors in their own rights, Sheri and Ryan still have the desire to manage their own small, local venue for the benefit of Charleston residents.

Sheri graduated from the University of South Carolina and has lived in Charleston since 1977, working with Charleston Theatre in the early 1980s and then opened a dinner theater on the corner of King and Calhoun Streets in a renovated fast food building. She was also an Artistic Director for the Footlight Players Theatre for years and continues to direct more than act. Now living on Johns Island, Sheri enjoys the commute to what others may call “work”.

In the past, Ryan has directed plays for First Baptist High School and his mother’s theater, as well as being involved with productions at the College of Charleston. While he still acts and directs quite a lot, Ryan also serves as the Charleston Acting Studio’s primary Technical Director and is the man behind the idea for producing more comedy shows at the Studio. He loves the Charleston area and now lives on Folly Beach. When asked about his plans for the future, Ryan replied, “I never want to live anywhere else.”

So why exactly did the mother and son duo choose James Island for their theater? It seems as though the major theaters are located in Downtown Charleston, but Sheri and Ryan took note of their friends’ triumph with the Village Playhouse in Mount Pleasant and decided to consider a “more suburban” location. Visitors are sure to be satisfied with the variety of bars and restaurants on James Island which they can visit before or after a show, and perhaps the best benefit is that parking is no hassle and there is no stumbling on cobblestone streets in high heels!

Next on stage for the Charleston Acting Studio is the November 6 performance of Rumpelstiltskin: The Musical, written by Stan Gill with music by Cindy Bright. This collaboration with Sprouts Children’s Theatre is not to be missed with its “hilarious lyrics, beautiful ballads, magical effects, uproarious chase scenes, audience participation and lots of happy endings that the whole family will enjoy.”

Be sure to explore the different types of theater offered at the Studio as well, including a theatre-outside-the-box series created by Ryan called Short Attn. Span Thtr. This “hour-long, freshly comedic and borderline bizarre entertainment” embodies a perfect combination of short scenes, plays, sketches and films which will appeal to teens and adults alike. There really is something for everyone at the Charleston Acting Studio!

Midtown/Sheri Grace Productions is a proud member of Theatre Charleston. For more information on the Charleston Acting Studio, upcoming classes or future productions, call Sheri Grace Wenger or Ryan Ahlert at 795-2223, visit www.midtownproductions.org or stop by the Studio at 915 Folly Road. Short attn. span thtr has shows October 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m,. and Halloween night at 8 p.m. Tickets are just $10. Rumpelstiltskin has only three shows: November 6 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and November 7 at 2 p.m. Tickets for general admission are $15 for seniors and $10 for students, available online at www.etix.com or the Studio’s box office.

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