Myrtle Beach may be way, way off-Broadway, like 500 miles away from the bright lights of the Big Apple. But the Grand Strand can hold its own when it comes to live theater.
From musicals and theatrical showcases to off-Broadway plays and live concert performances, the arts and theater scene in Myrtle Beach is surprisingly strong for a relatively small town. Of course, some have their own Southern spin and other border on Las Vegas bizarre, but there's enough to go around to keep people of all theatrical tastes entertained.
Here's a list of the top five places to take in live theater in the Myrtle Beach area:
* Alabama Theatre: Named for country music supergroup Alabama, which got its start in Myrtle Beach and sometimes returns to play in their namesake venue, this Barefoot Landing theater offers the long-running and award-winning show “One,” as well as a limited number of touring concerts. The nearby House of Blues draws many of the top musical acts, but the Alabama Theatre has Barefoot Landing covered for theater. Featuring a talented cast of singers, dancers, musicians and comedians, Alabama Theatre puts on a family-friendly show in the confines of a beautifully decorated venue. The lights and sound are top-notch and there isn't bad seat in the house among the 2,000.
* Carolina Opry: This Calvin Gilmore-owned theater has been packing them in for decades, and its current show “Good Vibrations” takes guests on a musical journey back even more decades to the music of the 1960s, '70s and '80s. This award-winning show features music from The Beatles, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson. The Carolina Opry offers other periodic shows, including one of the best Christmas spectaculars in the Southeast.
* Medieval Times: Go back in time to the Middle Ages, when kings ruled, knights fought for honor and princesses were not cartoons. Medieval Times, a national dinner and theater chain that gives its guests a true taste of what life was like in the British Isles a millennium ago. Knights duel with swords, horsemen joust and perform incredible stunts on their steeds, and displays of archery and falconry wow the crowds. Guests are treated to a meal fit for a king and get to meet the cast, er, royal family.
* Palace Theatre: This beautiful theater truly is off-Broadway, or at least Broadway at the Beach, where the Palace serves as the centerpiece of the entertainment, shopping and dining complex. The Palace offers a steady stream of traveling shows, like circuses and magicians, but the main showcase this year is a rocking production of “Rock Around the Clock.” Featuring musical performances from the 1950s through the end of the 21st century, this show covers all the musical bases and offers something for the whole family. The palace also holds occasional concerts, including such past acts as B.B. king and Allison Krause.
* Pirates Voyage: The best show on water, Pirates Voyage brings a new attitude to the former Dixie Stampede venue. The theater floor is a giant pool and the stages are floating ships where pirates please crowds with song, dance, comedy, stunts and dinner. The pirates swing from ropes and duel with swords, and they even come into the crowd to bring the show to life. Guests are treated to a pirate's feast and get to cheer on their crew. Kids love this performance, and they receive free pirate hats and garb to don for the show. But grown-up get a kick out of it too, perhaps because it’s rated “Arrrgh.”
(Photo courtesy: Alabama Theater)