Meet Jeff Gilmore and Jordan Gilmore Watkins.
Ages 8 and 4, respectively, when their family moved to the Grand Strand to pursue Calvin’s dream of building a country music theater, they have grown up in the business. Literally. Family meals as they grew up were likely to include discussions about comedy, cast members, and everything in between. Both of them spent a lot of time at the theater watching rehearsals or playing in the offices. And each of them went to work with dad in the evening from time to time. And after each had completed college, they moved back to the beach to put their oars in the water with the family business. Today they are an indispensable part of the fabric of the company.
A company vice-president, Jeff produces and directs shows, along with Calvin, as well as participating in administrative operations. Jeff, adept in video editing, also edits and produces the shows promotional videos. He also coaches and plays for the Gilmore Entertainment softball team in the Midnight Entertainment League sometimes involving a double-header beginning at midnight.
At age 8 he was involved with the business from the beginning, carrying ice for concession stands and even appearing onstage in the first Christmas show, with props for Bogie. Roaming the theater, he might have been found anywhere including, on one notable night, running along the top of a tour bus.
Jeff and his wife Carrie completed college in Chicago, returning to the beach in 2004. They live in Pawleys Island along with their two children, Evie and Walker. Jeff is an avid sports fan, particularly when it comes to the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs the state of his birth.
Jordan Gilmore Watkins
A company vice president, Jordan is Marketing Director, also participating in administrative operations. In addition to directing the work of the company’s ad agency, she is trained in graphic arts, and produces many of the company’s marketing materials herself. She is also serious about photography and shoots all the photography for the company.
Just age 4 when the family moved from Missouri to the beach, she barely remembers any other way of life. “I can still remember sitting on top a of little scrap of carpet on top of a pile of dirt in the original auditorium, watching the cast rehearse while renovations were still being done on the theater. I used to watch the show just captivated, my friends and I would count how many times Rita Gumm (then Rita Reeves!) would change her dress during each show and we always seemed to lose count! At age 4 I had no idea the risk my parents were taking, what a new and innovative experience they were creating, what an institution it would someday turn into. I would love to go back and look in on those days as an adult, I imagine the excitement and fear my parents must have been feeling as they embarked on this new journey. The Carolina Opry wasn’t just what my parents did, it was who we were. The cast was an extended part of my family and the theater was like home. I’m not sure how they felt about me hanging around the theater as a child, watching the girls put on their makeup and curl their hair, but I have always thought the world of them. All those sentiments still ring true, this is my family and my home and I always knew this is where I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Jordan, her husband Russell, and their children (son Rudd and daughter Gilmore) live in Murrells Inlet. As graduates of that institution, both are Clemson Tiger fanatics, holding season tickets every year and often enjoying a tailgate with friends.
Calvin Gilmore is often heard to say that he and his wife have cloned themselves with their son assuming many of Calvin’s former duties and their daughter assuming his wife Janis’s former marketing job. He adds, “There is nothing like family integrity. It’s comforting when Janis and I are traveling to know that Jeff and Jordan are there onsite. The cook is still in the kitchen. And there’s nothing in the world as sweet as seeing your grandchildren show up at rehearsal or in your dressing room.”