When my wife and I were looking at whether to relocate from Washington, DC to LaGrange was the quality of life. In other words, what would we do for the arts that were so prevalent back East that we had grown accustomed to (as well as entertainment in Philadelphia and Baltimore).
You see, we didn’t know much about LaGrange, other than what websites and a tour of the college would show. We didn’t even know about the Columbus scene either, but we reasoned that we could always drive up to Atlanta every so often to take in a show.
We were so wrong! We weren’t wrong about Atlanta. We were wrong about LaGrange!
Shortly after arriving, we ventured out to see the play “The Mousetrap,” an Agatha Christie murder mystery set in a snowed-in English boarding house. I went because a political science major who minored in theater, was in the performance. Ever since then, we’ve been hooked.
We’ve seen Shakespeare’s MacBeth, the Greek comedy Lysistrata, the classic “Brigadoon,” the musical “Little Shop of Horrors,” and an endless supply of dramas, comedies, tragedies, and even a huge aquatic tank and dozens of skits in a watery rendition of “Metamorphoses.”
The reason I was skeptical at first is because I just wasn’t used to good performances in college. I had seen plays at my undergraduate school, and graduate schools, as well as my first teaching job. None of them were particularly outstanding. Some were downright bad. My undergraduate school gave such a dreary performance of Anton Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard” that our entire group of 20 students who came to see it left at intermission.
LaGrange College put on the same play, as if to prove they could make it entertaining and memorable. Though I had to drag my wife to it (as she remembered the earlier bad performance), we loved it.
And LaGrange College is hardly some oasis in a sea of artless options. LSPA, the high schools, Techniques, academies, and others have great plays, ballet, etc (Troup High School is putting on the musical “Once on this Island,” based upon “The Little Mermaid,” Sunday through Tuesday). There are great exhibits at the art museums in town and on campus. And, having worked at a top 10 symphony in education outreach, I can say we’ve got an incredible LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and chorus. We also enjoy the Azalea Storytelling Festival every spring.
I have to commend our theater, music and art departments for not making us miss the East Coast arts and drama. They put in a lot of time with the students, and the talent shows. But the high quality arts come from the LaGrange and Troup County community, who either attend or participate. Some even generously donate to make LaGrange a must see and must hear place in the South.
If you haven’t had a chance to see a performance, I highly recommend you check out LaGrange College’s “The 39 Steps” a hilarious spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s wartime spy suspense movies, with hundreds of roles being performed by a handful of actors and actresses. You can get tickets at the Price Theater Box Office at 706-880-8080 from Wednesday through Sunday (matinees at 230pm on Saturday and Sunday). We saw it was playing in London, but you can see it here, for cheaper, without missing any of the quality.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College.