I can’t remember when the arts weren’t a part of my life. I grew up in a family that enjoyed going to concerts and plays, and I can remember being very young and dressing up in my better-than-Sunday-best to attend a symphony performance, or a premiere of a play by either a local theatre group or a touring company from New York.

The first stage play I saw was “Showboat.” I was hooked. I still love the story, and have seen the movie countless times. Filled with travel, romance, intrigue and scandal, it was everything to an impressionable young girl. I didn’t even care that the performers attended church with us, or worked with my dad. Once they were up on stage, they were stars to me. There were very few plays Mom and Dad wouldn’t allow me to attend with them — the two exceptions were “Hair,” and “Oh! Calcutta,” both of which were brought to town by a touring company. I assume that was because of the nudity, although they never actually told me why. The message I received was, “Someday you’ll understand.” I have never seen “Oh! Calcutta,” but I have seen “Hair.” I’m glad they didn’t take me when I was little. I guess someday finally came.

I try to attend as many local theater performances as I can, and I’m never disappointed, whether I’m seeing a play at Glynn Academy with the very fine Glynn Academy Players and their fearless leader, Josh Sinyard, or whether I’m at a performance of The Island Players at the St. Simons Island Casino (possibly the most beautiful setting for a theatre anywhere) or The Brunswick Actors’ Theatre. For a community of our size, we have a tremendous amount of talent and enthusiasm for live theatre.

Play along with me. Next time you go see a local performance, and you watch Bob from Accounting on stage acting his heart out, or Mary Ellen the receptionist singing at the top of her lungs, forget who they are in real life. Just soak in the performance, and let Bob and Mary Ellen become stars in your mind, even if only for a brief time. You’ll end up perceiving them differently forever. I promise.

I feel the same way about symphonic music. As a little girl, going to a symphony concert was a big deal. We got dressed up, went to dinner and then on to the performance. Dresses were pressed, hair was curled within an inch of its life, and shoes were polished until they were mirror-like. This was an occasion to use one’s best manners, because usually, Dad’s boss (who scared me to death) was also in attendance. I also enjoyed going with my class to the one children’s performance our symphony had once a year. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to sit through “The William Tell Overture” and “Peter and the Wolf,” but I loved it every time. I actually think these early concerts, and listening to the pre-concert talks, influenced my love of all sorts of live music.

The arts are on my mind because the Coastal Symphony of Georgia and The Symphony Society recently held Cabaret 2019, its annual fundraiser. A smaller fundraiser, involving a Klezmer band from Savannah, was held a week or two prior.

Then, I had the privilege of sitting through a rehearsal of “Showstoppers” at the Brunswick Actors’ Theatre thanks to my friend, Gail Butler. This show runs the gamut of Broadway show tunes, and will have you singing and dancing along for the entire time.

Lastly, the Auxiliary of the Hospice of the Golden Isles held its annual Wine, Women & Shoes event on Sea Island. Once again, event chair Becky Derrick (disclosure: also one of my colleagues at Brunswick News Publishing Co.) and her very dedicated and capable group of volunteers pulled of a feat of biblical proportions, raised a ton of money for Hospice of the Golden Isles and guaranteed that 400 women had the time of their lives on a cold, blustery February afternoon. Salute!

Between these pages you’ll find pictures from the events mentioned above, in addition to several others, a spotlight on pianist and vocalist Bob Allison and a centerpiece story about Potlikker Farm and its mission of growing healthy, sustainable food.

And, since it’s mid-February, I would be remiss if I didn’t extend my wish for a Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!