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‘True Blood’ actor returns home

By Staff | Sep 29, 2009

(Editor’s note: Danny Forinash is the communications specialist for the Charleston Area Alliance, the parent organization of East End Main Street. East End Main Street is putting on HallowEast).

On the HBO original series “True Blood,” Sam Trammell plays a shape-shifter, changing from man to animal and back again.

On Oct. 30, Trammell will be transforming back into a West Virginian.

“I really am thrilled to be coming back to Charleston,” he said. “I consider Charleston home. My mom and dad still live there. I really miss it, and I’m excited to see all my friends and family. It’s great to be coming home.”

But the main focus of Trammell’s Charleston visit will be supporting the work of East End Main Street, a program of the Charleston Area Alliance dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Charleston’s oldest and most diverse neighborhood.

Trammel will be the highlight of EEMS’s inaugural HallowEast fundraiser, participating in “Inside the Main Street Studio,” a sit-down, “Inside the Actors Studio”-style interview, at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Kanawha Players, 309 Beauregard St.

David Wohl, dean of arts and humanities at West Virginia State University, will be asking the questions, and a Kanawha Players performance of “Dial M for Murder” will follow Trammell’s appearance.

Trammell fits well with HallowEast, of course, because he considers Charleston his hometown. Being a star on “True Blood,” though, helps, because the show’s dark theme mixes well with a Halloween event.

“It’s a good fit for Halloween,” Trammell said. “If you’ve read the Charlaine Harris books (on which the show is based), you know she introduces a whole host of fantastical creatures. For sure, it’s a Halloween sort of show.”

And viewers in West Virginia, like fans all across the country, are engrossed in the evolving storyline, one that continually weaves Louisiana culture and vampire lore into a tale that is all at once scary, funny, captivating, provocative and smart.

“It’s always interesting to hear from people who are really into the show,” Trammell said. “It attracts a wide demographic. Sometimes, people will ask my dad what’s going to happen next on the show, and he has no idea. It amazes me people in West Virginia are actually keeping up with what I’m doing on the show. The attention is completely new to me.”

Trammell was born in Louisiana and has lived in North Dakota and Indiana. But he spent most of his early life in Charleston, going to Overbrook Elementary, John Adams Middle School and George Washington High School. After attending Brown University and the University of Paris, Trammell acted on Broadway and eventually appeared in several films – “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” and “Autumn in New York,” among others – and guest-starred on several televisions shows – “House,” “CSI: New York” and “Dexter,” among others.

“True Blood,” though, has catapulted Trammell to celebrity status, which is evident by the growing number of talk show appearances.

“Sam is a star on the rise, so we are thrilled and honored he is taking the time to be a part of, and really the highlight of, HallowEast,” said EEMS Program Director Ric Cavender. “A lot of fans are going to be excited, too.”

Trammell said he is eager to support the efforts of EEMS, which works directly with neighborhood businesses, leading them from simple ideas to significant investments. The program is based on a national model for community revitalization that was developed to save historic commercial architecture and has since become a powerful economic development tool across the country.

“Downtown Charleston and the East End are just amazing,” Trammell said. “Today, when you look at the ballpark, the Clay Center and Capitol Street, you understand the revitalization has been great. I want to see it continue.”

EEMS volunteers are hoping HallowEast can help that work continue.

“This is HallowEast’s first year, but it’s already a giant undertaking,” Cavender said. “The money we raise with this event will go directly toward improving Charleston.”

HallowEast officially starts at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 with “Main Street Murder Mystery” at Women’s Club of Charleston, 1600 Virginia St.  Bluegrass Kitchen is presenting the event. Tickets are $35 and include hors devours and drinks.

Oct. 28 also marks the ArtMares opening at 1598 Washington St. East. The four-day exhibit features more than 30 local artists showcasing their visions of Halloween. Thirty percent of all proceeds from art sales go to East End Main Street. ArtMares runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

HallowEast continues Oct. 29 with an enhanced evening of Trick or Treat, which runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and includes participation from East End businesses. Also on Oct. 29, the Red Cross is partnering with EEMS for its “Blood Drive” from 1 to 6 p.m. at the Moses Automotive parking lot, 1406 Washington St. East.

HallowEast concludes with a special ArtMares artists reception and block party from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct. 31. The $15 admission fee covers beer, wine and a $2 discount to the Empty Glass Halloween Hootenanny at 9 p.m.

Kanawha Players will present the second showing of “Dial M for Murder” at 8 p.m. Halloween night. Tickets are $12.

Ongoing events include black and orange margarita specials at Tricky Fish, lunch specials at Delish Express and art exhibits at the Book Exchange.

Tickets for the Oct. 30 Sam Trammell presentation and “Dial M of Murder” are $50. Tickets for the show and a 6 p.m. VIP reception at the Cultural Center are $100, while tickets for the premium VIP reception at 5 p.m., also at the Cultural Center, are $150. Trammell will be participating in both receptions, and those prices include admission to “Inside the Main Street Studio.”

Call (304) 340-4253 and visit www.HallowEast.com for more information. Registration for some events will be available at www.CharlestonAreaAlliance.org.

“It’s a big deal for me to come home and have this sort of attention,” Trammell said. “It’s humbling. …

“When you live in West Virginia, you take it for granted,” he added. “After you leave, you realize how unique Charleston and West Virginia are. So much of the state is untouched, green and beautiful. It’s different from anywhere else in the world. You appreciate it when you’re gone.”

Contact Danny at letters@graffitiwv.com