Off-Broadway: Singer comes to Hilton Head to give back

Meredith Inglesby
Meredith Inglesby

The river just keeps flowing for the Inglesby family in this corner of Carolina.

Now along for the ride is baby Victoria as her mother, Broadway actress and singer Meredith Inglesby, comes home to perform at a fundraiser Saturday for the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.

Meredith, like benefit headliner Duncan Sheik, grew up in the Lowcountry. And like her parents and grandparents, she always found special inspiration in the May River and the Atlantic Ocean.

But now 4-month-old Victoria gives her a new way to see family, a peaceful home town, creative outlets -- and fame.

Meredith wants future generations to have what she had when her parents, Bill and Ellery Inglesby, moved from Savannah to Sea Pines in 1972. When he went to work for the new Carswell of Carolina insurance agency, Bill and Ellery joined a generation of young adults who took a wild gamble on a backwater place -- and ended up sticking like barnacles and showing the rest of us the way.

Bill had always been smeared by pluff mud. He comes from a musical family that spent every summer on the May River, staying in a cottage beside his two first cousins once removed, Edith and Charlotte Inglesby. They were sisters who never married and fascinated generations, like characters who'd stepped out of a Charlotte Bronte novel.

Edith Inglesby was a librarian who found stories in every nook of the Lowcountry and delightfully wrote them in her 1968 book, "A Corner of Carolina: The Four Seasons in Hilton Head Island, Beaufort and Bluffton."

As Meredith holds little Victoria, she hopes that she, too, can leave a creative contribution. She was a precocious child who performed first at Sea Pines Montessori School and on the living room coffee table. At 14, she was hanging out at the Community Playhouse on Dunnagans Alley, and as an adult found herself as a French maid turned feather duster in "Beauty and the Beast" -- on Broadway.

In real life, she married the "Beast" in that show -- Steve Blanchard, who also will perform in the benefit show for the financially ailing arts center. And the couple will play opposite each other for the first time in "Spamalot" at the arts center May 1-26.

Meredith said she wants to give something back to the quiet community that molded her. And she thinks arts centers are more important than ever as schools cut the arts, kids plug into smartphones, and small-town theaters struggle to keep live performers sashaying into the imaginations of new generations.

Meredith has now felt the bright lights of big cities and small towns. She has learned that fame and a fame-crazed society are not the ideal. We should instead focus on an artist's talent, inspiration, creativity -- and work.

And let the river keep on flowing.

Related content

  1. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina
  2. Duncan Sheik to perform at Arts Center of Coastal Carolina Spring Gala