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Wright 'comes home' to the FAC

Posted: April 16, 2018 1:52 p.m.
Updated: April 17, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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 The Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County will present a meet and greet with Academy Award winner and Camden native Samuel E. Wright on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Wood Auditorium, 810 Lyttleton St.,  Camden. The event is free and open to the public. The FAC does request that you reserve your space by going online to Eventbrite. This special meet and greet with Samuel E. Wright is sponsored by Tony Scully, John Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Robinson, Jackson High School Class of 1967, Mr. and Mrs. William Prioleau, Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford, Mr. and Mrs. Larry McCutcheon, Camden First United Methodist Church, Browns Funeral Home, Mr. and Mrs. Philip Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Smoak, Collins Funeral Home, Glenn Thompson Logging, and Mr. and Mrs. Ellison Lawson Jr. A reception will take place immediately following the meet and greet in the Lobby of the Bassett Building.

Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford will present the key to the city, along with a proclamation to Wright prior to the meet and greet. The day will also include a song or two from the cast of the recent FAC Youth Production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr., and perhaps even a song or two from Wright.

About Samuel E. Wright

Samuel E. Wright was born in Camden and is the son of the late Richard Randolph Wright Sr. and the late Mrs. G. Louise Cooper Wright. He is more affectionately known as Sammy, and he attended public schools in Camden and graduated from Jackson High School in 1967. As a senior in high school, Sammy was cast as Sitting Bull in the Camden Community Theatre production of Annie Get Your Gun. He was the first African-American to appear on the Camden Community Theatre stage. Interestingly, the weekend of the meet and greet marks the 51st anniversary of that production, which was held April 20-22,1967 in Phelps Auditorium. The musical was directed by the late Herbert Schreiber, with musical direction by Julia Halford, who is still very active in the Camden musical community. Both saw a true talent in the young man known as Sammy. No one could have predicted all of the successes that would follow this young man.

After graduation, Wright attended South Carolina State (University) College where he was a member of the Henderson-Davis Players and performed in plays such as A Raisin In the Sun and Blue Denim. He was also one of the people injured during the infamous Orangeburg Massacre in 1968.

State College did not have a theatre major so Wright soon found himself attending CW Post College in New York where he would study acting and would soon be on the road to his professional acting career.

Wright’s professional theater credits include Jesus Christ Superstar, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Pippin (Wright was the second individual to play the lead role in the Broadway production), Overhear, and most famously, his Tony nominated performances in The Tap Dance Kid, and as Mufasa in the Broadway production of The Lion King. His film credits include his Academy Award winning portrayal of Sebastian the crab in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Dizzy Gillespie in Clint Eastwood’s Bird, and television credits include Simon & Simon, The Cosby Show, and Enos, among others. Wright was also know as the original purple grape in the Fruit of the Loom commercials.

In addition to his acting career, he and his wife, Amanda, established the Hudson Valley Conservative, a performing arts school located in Walden, N.Y., where students are submerged in classes in music, theatre, filmmaking and dance. He is currently focused on teaching, directing and inspiring today’s youth through his master classes, an audition-only class at the Hudson Valley Conservatory.

Wright is delighted to be coming home to Camden for a visit. He said, “You know the saying...’it takes a village?’ Well, I say it takes a community and the Camden community raised me very well.”

For more information call (803) 425-7676, visit the FAC office or visit the website at www.fineartscenter.org. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wright will be available for interviews during his visit. Interested media may contact Jane Peterson directly to set up an interview.

The FAC is a 501(c)(3) organization funded in part by grants from Duke Energy, the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the city of Camden, Kershaw County, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, along with donations from businesses and individuals.

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