Bringing back the arts in Greenville

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with the wonderful Millie McDonald and her &#8220beautiful children” in the Greenville High School music room.

I took a lot of photos, asked questions and jotted down some notes. Mostly, I listened.

The kids are really good. Hearing them sing songs like &#8220Elijah and Joshua,” &#8220Chariot's Comin'” and &#8220Kyrie Eleison” was inspiring, especially when you consider a student like Tyler Ray didn't even consider himself a singer until this year. He was certainly pulling his own weight with all those girls (hang in there, Tyler).

 I found myself singing along with some of the tunes, remembering GHS Glee Club performances and listening to my older sisters perform when I was a little girl.

 My sisters also sang those songs around the house (and casually tossed French and Spanish phrases around the room, sophisticated teens that they were). They were obviously having a great time in their choral classes with Mr. Mann, just as today's teens are having a blast with Miss Millie.

It's wonderful what you can do with inborn talent when you combine it with determination to develop it and a knowledgeable teacher who also knows how to inspire.

Yes, I am awfully glad Miss Millie and her kids are &#8220bringing it back” for the arts at my old alma mater.

There's that old adage about those who can, do and those who can't, teach.

I don't buy it, at least not in the case of some of the teachers I've been blessed to know.

People like Miss Millie, Priscilla Davis and her former student and successor, GHS art instructor Stacey Edwards, are all extremely talented in their own right. They also have a gift and passion for sharing those talents with others.

I also watched Wendy Smith's drama students rehearsing their latest production, &#8220Winnie-The-Pooh.” They are still in the early stages, so things are naturally a bit rough around the edges.

However, I have watched some of the same students over the past few years perform on that stage, and I can truthfully say they are getting better and better each year (good job, Wendy!). These guys are talented performers, and I hope you will plan to see one of their performances in late April.

Several, like Brittany Byrd, Carrie Victoria and Tyler Ray, are also students of Miss Millie's. Her vocal training is allowing Wendy (who candidly admits she is no musician) to bring a musical (hooray!) to the GHS stage again.

Stacey's artistic talents (and likely those of her students) will be on display in the backdrops for the production.

It's a team effort, really, just like the upcoming production &#8220Puttin' on the Ritz,” a musical fundraiser for the Greenville Area Arts Council.

&#8220Winnie” and &#8220Ritz” happen to fall on the same weekend, but that doesn't mean you can't make both events. The GAAC musical falls on both Friday and Saturday nights, April 27 and 28 and the GHS musical is that Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

So mark your calendars and plan on a music and fun-filled extravaganza of a weekend for your family.

It's a chance to support your local arts and all the wonderful, talented people who keep &#8220bringing it back” to the community.

Angie Long is Lifestyles reporter for The Greenville Advocate. She can be reached at 382-3111 ext. 132 or via email at