The Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is delighted to bring to life the fictional world of Mitford, the charming town featured in the book series by Jan Karon. “Welcome to Mitford “ truly captures the warmth, passion, and depth of the novels. The show will run from May 24 through June 3 at the theatre located at 125.5 West Main Street, Jonesborough.
“I’ve been a fan of the Mitford novels for over 20 years,” said Pam Johnson, the director, “so I was thrilled to be asked to direct it. My first concern, though, was if the script kept the integrity of the books. I was happy to find out it totally embraces Jan Karon’s vision. And we cannot wait to share it with our community.”
“The stage adaption does an amazing job of capturing the heart and soul of Mitford,” said Jennifer Ross, who portrays the spirited Cynthia Coppersmith, and is a huge fan of the books. “Patrons who love the Mitford books will not be disappointed. All of the small town humor, love and friction are woven carefully into this beautiful script.”
The story revolves around Father Tim, the middle-aged bachelor rector of the Lord’s Chapel, and how his life is utterly changed when first, he takes in an unruly boy, Dooley Barlow; and second, the vivacious Cynthia Coppersmith moves in next door.
“Cynthia is my favorite character,” Ross said. “I love her courage and her wit. But most of all, I love her dedication to the Lord and the way that it permeates her entire life.”
The town and people of Mitford are inspired by the years the author lived in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The show can be considered a period piece set in the days before the convenience and popularity of computers and cell phones. Mitford is true “small-town America” with colorful characters who drive the show.
“The characters in this show are very down to earth and funny!” Ross said. “Everyone has someone in their life like Uncle Billy, or Miss Sadie, or certainly Emma Garrett, Father Tim’s secretary.”
Mary Nell McIntyre, who plays Emma, agreed. “Since we live in a small southern town, I feel that the audience will really identify with the characters.”
One of the most popular characters of the show is the loveable, entertaining Uncle Billy. His jokes alone may be worth the price of admission.
“Uncle Billy is my favorite,” McIntyre said. “He is a joke-telling cutup who also loves his eccentric wife. Steve Bashor does an excellent job portraying him.”
“Uncle Billy is at the top of the list of favorite characters,” said Joel VanEaton, who plays Father Tim. “He is a pivotal character and provides a deeper context within the scope of the story. Also, his jokes are stellar. I’m glad I get to laugh along with most of them. It would be hard not to.”
There are many humorous moments in the show, but also many poignant moments to identify with in one way or another.
Tristan Matthews, who plays young Dooley Barlow said, “People will relate to the family side of the show and the struggles that come with it.”
VanEaton said, “Father Tim says in one scene, ‘Give thanks in everything—in loss of all kinds. In illness, in depression, in grief and in failure. And, of course, in health and peace, success and happiness. Give thanks in everything.’ That kind of sums up the breadth of how people will be able to relate to this show.”
The cast promises that this drama/comedy will tug at your heartstrings on many different levels. Everyone will see why its motto, as Mayor Esther Cunningham proclaims, is “Mitford takes care of its own.”
VanEaton stated it best. “This is an inspiring, hope-filled play that I believe will leave those who see it with a renewed sense of the joy of community.”
“Welcome to Mitford” is written by Robert Inman and is adapted from the Mitford novels by Jan Karon. The show is directed by Pam Johnson and assisted by Joe Smith. The JRT is thankful for the show sponsors—Ignaci Fonberg and Sonia King/Mary B. Martin.
Rounding out the cast are Steve Bashor, Sarah Grace Cook, Suzanne Cook, Stephen Cradic, Will Dollar, Doug Fox, Phyllis Fox, Janette Gaines, Joe Gumina, Hannah Higginbotham, Adam Honeycutt, Karl Kapoor, Dana Kehs, Mike Lilly, Dick Lura, Avery Morgan, Mike Musick, Melissa Nipper, Sarah Nipper, Katy Rosolowski, Eli Simpson, Alexis Turner, Ella Turner, Kari Tuthill, and Anna VanEaton.
Shows are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.; and Sunday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $16 general admission, $14 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at (423) 753-1010 or go online to www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.