Jacksonians who enjoy a good play have a full menu of options during April. There's a musical comedy at Millsaps, children's theater at New Stage and an adult musical comedy and a new twist on William Shakespeare, out in Clinton.
For those who enjoy musical comedies, the Millsaps Players of Millsaps College will be performing "Nunsense" on April 7-10. "Nunsense," directed by Brent Lafavre, is about a convent, the Little Sisters of Hoboken, that needs to raise some money after falling into a predicament. The nuns put on a talent show, described by the play's official Web page as being full of "hilarious musical numbers, nun puns, and plenty of audience interaction."
Sister Mary Hubert, played by Mattie Brown, is Mistress of Novices, second in command to Reverend Mother, and "is constantly striving for one-upmanship." Sister Robert Anne, played by Jacqueline Cole, is a "wise-cracking, former tough kid from Brooklyn, full of mischief and a burning desire for her moment in the spotlight." Sister Mary Amnesia, played by Margaret Roberts, "is a sweet and lovable person who simply can't remember who she is or much anything else." Sister Mary Lee, played by Anna Wells, is a ballerina and "an eager to please novice." Reverend Mother, Sister Mary Regina, played by Jessica Ramer, is a former circus employee who is slightly overweight.
"Nunsense" begins with its theme song, "Nunsense is Habit-forming," which contains lyrics that really set the tone for the entire play. "We're here tonight to show you nuns are fun, perhaps a bit risqué," and "Though we're on our way to heaven, we're here to raise up hell," are some of the more memorable lines from the first song.
The final song of the first Act is "Tackle That Temptation with a Tap Step," a song that the nuns sing in response to the Reverend Mother getting high. Describing the show, Anna Wells said, "The play has singing, tapping and ballet, and there is a lot of crowd interaction. We will have a band on-stage."
The music, Wells said, is "comedy music, all upbeat." Margaret Roberts said the Millsaps Players are expecting a good crowd because, "more people turn out for musicals. (People seem to) like musicals better (because) it brings together dancing, acting, and comedy."
The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday on the Millsaps campus at the Christian Center.
Love Me, Change You
The Clinton Brickstreet Players will be performing "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" on April 7-9, 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday. The Clinton Brickstreet Players started many years ago, went through years of being dormant, and then was revamped about eight years ago, according to R.B. Jones, one of the group's leaders. They are presenting the performance at the Old Clinton Junior High auditorium on Fairmont Drive across from Mississippi College.
"We do four to five shows a year. It's community theater. People give us a lot of good support. People compare us to New Stage, which is very complimentary. Our casts are made up of all different age groups. There is a small core of us," Jones said.
Jones said the play is about "the trials and tribulations of being single. Dating, marriage and heartbreak are cleverly explained. It addresses everything in the relationship process you've wanted to ask: cold feet and pre-wedding realizations, everything you're afraid to admit. This is the longest running off-Broadway musical."
Due to the content of the play, it has been rated M for mature audiences and the directors Aubrey and Naomi Barnette say the show might be inappropriate for children under 15. The cast consists of Melanie Atkinson, Melissa Brewer, Jason Moulder and Trey Finch.
Naomi Barnette said: "Every song, you can connect with because it's life. It tugs at your heartstrings. We have the best cast you can imagine. We have two actors that can really sing, and two singers that can really act. "
Some of the more memorable songs are "Waiting," "Always a Bridesmaid," "A Stud and a Babe," "I Will Be Loved Tonight," "Single Man Drought," "Why, Because I'm a Guy," "Hey There Single Guy/Gal," "He Called Me," "I Can Live With That" and the theme song "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change."
"There is more singing than dialogue; it's about 75 percent to 25 percent. The music is typical Broadway music—dance numbers. They're all funny. There's nothing in here that you wouldn't see on 'Friends,'" Barnette added.
The show begins with meeting and dating, and goes through marriage, family and children. It spans a lot of time. In the scene titled "Men Who Talk and Women Who Pretend They're Listening," there are two different couples at a café, and it is apparently a blind date set up that is not at all working out.
The last scene, "Funerals are for Dating," is set at a funeral with a man and woman whose spouses have died. The man is going to the viewing to find a date.
"It's a true-to-life musical. It's played up, but real," Melanie Atkinson said.
Tis But Thy Screen Name
Mississippi College's Annual Shakespeare Festival will be held April 7 through 12 at 5 p.m. The show will be performed in the interior courtyard of Jennings Hall, "a four-sided building with open courtyard, much like the Globe Theatre," Dr. Phyllis Seawright, communications professor of Mississippi College said.
Mississippi College will be performing Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," in a slightly non-traditional way. "The setting is a modernish time period," Seawright. The original language is used, but the clothing is more modern, and guns take the place of swords.
The play is a student production, being directed by Christopher Hudson, a junior, and Kalen Vollendo, a senior. The actors are also functioning as the stage crew, so this is a very hard-working cast.
It has been important to Vollendorf that the actors and actresses really get into the spirit of the play, and not merely say the lines on stage. In light of the sometimes confusing dialogue, she told the cast "Know what it is you're saying. If you don't know (what your lines mean), look it up. Don't just say the lines."