When an Mississippi College student hears the words “local theatre,” chances are their minds will conjure up images of the intimate plays that grace the stage of Aven Little Theatre, or the grand musical numbers that resound through Jean Pittman Williams Recital Hall.
And with the upcoming productions of Les Miserables and the beloved tradition that is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, those associations are rightly deserved. The actors and singers among the Mississippi College community are some of the very best.
But maybe you are just like me – a lover of the arts whose thirst for the theatrical is never quite quenched. Whether I feel the need to go see a play, or take on a new persona as an actor, I feel there is always more to discover and learn. This is where community theater has played a huge role in my life, and I can attribute most of that to Black Rose Theater in Brandon.
Black Rose has been putting on productions within the community since 1991, and their productions only get stronger with each passing season. In its last season, Black Rose made sold out audiences cry with its production of Fiddler on the Roof, and made people double over in laughter with shows like Noises Off! And God’s Favorite.
But what is it about Black Rose that makes it so special? Northwest Rankin sophomore, Nellie Massey, can be found assisting in nearly every production that goes on at Black Rose, whether she is moving a crowd to tears through song, operating lights, or even co-writing a show.
She attributes the charm of Black Rose to the “crazy talented and dedicated people who are willing to share everything they know with those eager to learn.”
Trisha Pate, a Mississippi College alumna who is no stranger to the theater world owes thanks to her time at MC. She recently made her Black Rose debut as Sarah Benjamin in God’s Favorite, a modern take on the biblical story of Job.
She said of her experience, “Black Rose provided a warm and laid back atmosphere. It provided an artistic outlet that was wonderful to enjoy after a day at work.”
My experience, as both an actor and an audience member, echoes both Nellie and Trisha’s experiences. The environment, people, and level of talent that I was surrounded by left me no choice but to learn and appreciate the theater even more.
The highlight of my time on stage in Brandon was working with Keni Bounds and Eric Riggs, local playwrights who wrote and also directed The Date, a comedy about two people meeting for a blind date, who happen to run into their exes at the restaurant. Chaos ensues, and the audience gets a good, old fashioned knee-slapper.
While their 2013 season is about to wind down with their children’s production of Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, there is much to look forward to in the next year. In its 2014 season, Black Rose will display classic mysteries like And Then There Were None, familiar stories like M*A*S*H, and comedies like In-Laws, Outlaws and Other People (That Should Be Shot).
Whether you want to break a leg at an audition, volunteer your technical skills in the light-booth, or see something new as an audience member, I guarantee there is somewhere for you at Black Rose Theatre. For more information on auditions or reservations, visit www.blackrosetheatre.org, or call (601) 825-1293.
– Heather Barnes, Contributing Writer