While Lynn Parrott was preparing her home in Sea Pines for special guests Wednesday night, Patina Miller was singing and posing for the media in New York City with Whoopi Goldberg.
Miller will play the lead role in "Sister Act The Musical," opening April 20 on Broadway.
That's a long way from Pageland, the South Carolina town where Miller was reared in a single-parent home.
Through audition, she was able to attend the Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, and from there, get a full ride to Carnegie Mellon University and go on to earn a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
The glamorous actress who first learned to sing at church is one of many South Carolinians whose gifts might never have seen the spotlight without that special public high school. Her success helps explain why Lynn and Peter Parrott set out hors d'oeuvres Wednesday and asked friends to come meet the president of the Governor's School, Bruce Halverson.
Peter Parrott says the school should bring pride to South Carolinians tired of being on the "bottom rung" of everything.
It's a residential school for juniors and seniors offering all academics, plus pre-professional training in creative writing, dance, drama, music and visual arts. It's a meritocracy. Students are admitted on talent alone, not money, connections or brains. They must be from South Carolina. They must have a C-plus average. A third of them need scholarships for their only expense -- meals.
From this pool, for 10 years, all graduates have continued their education. They have received more than $100 million in scholarship offers. They have earned the third-highest SAT average in the state for public schools.
One parent said it's because the students accept and support each other. Another said they set high goals and expect success. They stay busy and can't have cars.
Reid Davis of Beaufort, whose daughter Elizabeth is a first-year student, said it's important that they all want to be there.
The school's state allocation has been cut from $7.3 million to $5.3 million. It has always had private support. The Parrotts are involved because both are Greenville natives, and Lynn, an artist, sits on the Governor's School for the Arts Foundation board, along with fellow islander Susie Emanuelson.
One of South Carolina's brightest stars needs more attention, they say, like all the flashes popping around Patina Miller on Broadway.