By ALLEN RAU
Another season of standout performances by local actors and actresses at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre is creeping closer every day.
This season’s lineup will feature three premieres, one of which will be a world premiere, a first for the JRT.
The artistic director for the JRT, Jennifer Ross, recently provided a glimpse of the shows this season.
- “Disney’s Newsies”, Aug. 17–Sept. 9 – “Opening this Friday Aug. 17. This is a wonderful, family-friendly show,” Ross said “There was a movie first, then they made it into a Broadway play, both of which were very successful. It’s based on a true story, based on an event that happened when the newspaper boys went on strike. But the dancing and singing on the stage is filled with 25 amazingly talented kids that are playing the newsies. And we have probably 15 adults. It’s a huge cast. The dancing and choreography is brilliant and they’re doing stunts and all kinds of things and the set is just genius. Carol Huie is our new set designer and it’s great. Lindy Ley is our choreographer and Janette Gaines is the director. Newsies is a premiere for this area, never been done.”
• “The Fantasticks”, Sept. 20-30 – “It’s a small musical, only eight people,” according to Ross. “But that’s the longest running musical off-Broadway in the history of Broadway – in New York. It’s funny and sweet and we’re running that two weekends in September, the last two weekends.”
• “The Wild Women of Winedale”, Oct. 26-Nov. 11 – “We’re doing a world premiere,” Ross said excitedly. “Several stories about the wild sisters and they chose JRT to premiere their play. The playwrights will be flying in (from New York) and we open that show Friday, Oct. 26. It’s brilliant because from this point on every script will have Jonesborough Repertory Theatre, the town of Jonesborough will be in every script and our actors will be in there for everyone that performs their show around the world. That’s a first for us. And the playwrights are (Jessie) Jones, (Nicholas) Hope and (Jamie) Wooten. It’s a comedy, a non-musical, and it is hilarious. And that will run for three weekends.”
• “USO Christmas Show”, Dec. 6-16 – “We open the first weekend in December, and this will be our 15th (USO) show,” Ross shared. “And that’s with a live band, and it’s to honor our military. One of the shows will be a benefit for ‘Honor Flight.’ “
• “The Miracle Worker”, Jan. 25-Feb. 10 – “The true life story of Helen Keller,” Ross said. “In this play Keller is a child and she is deaf and blind. Her parents hire a teacher, Annie Sullivan, her parents realize she is very smart but this is the 1800’s and they don’t know how to help her so they hire Sullivan. And she moves in with them and she is able to teach Helen sign language. We did the preview gala last week and the little girl that played Helen Keller was brilliant. You would never have known that she could see or hear. People were moved to tears because her portrayal was so genius.”
• “Shrek”, March 21-Feb 10 – “We did (Shrek) five years ago, and it’s a musical and it’s wonderful. Hilarious. And we’re bringing Shrek back.”
• “Harvey”, May 10-26 – “Classic comedy … Jimmy Stewart was in it (the movie). It’s about Elwood P. Dowd, and he has a friend who’s a large, invisible rabbit named Harvey,” Ross said. “It’s a classic and it’s hilarious. We did a scene from that show for the kickoff and people were laughing hysterically, because he sees this rabbit and has his portrait made with him. Anyways, he’s a giant rabbit.”
• “Mamma Mia”, June 21-July 14 – “We close out the season with another premiere for this area,” Ross said. “It is gonna be like a tidal wave. People want to see that show. Listen, the audience was on their feet when we did it at the preview gala, cheering. Because it’s the music of ABBA, from the Seventies. And it’s just so much fun. We had platform boots, the men came out with the Elvis jumpsuits. It was wonderful.”
“That’s our season, and it’s going to be remarkable,” Ross added, “We are really, really looking forward to it.”
While the JRT has many talented actors currently in the fold, Ross was impressed with the performances of the younger actors and actresses.
“We have so many talented students in our program, they’re unbelievable. Right now, we have probably 120 kids just in musical theater. I think next semester we’ll add another class because there’s a waiting list of students.”
So as the JRT begins the season, there will be no reason to worry about it’s future performances, as the future is already well represented.
For information about tickets or show dates and times, call (423) 753-1010 or visit www.jonesboroughtheatre.com.