- Shaw Furlow
Little theater brings quality productions
By guest columnist R. Shaw Furlow
Over the years of writing for the Wesson News, I’ve covered about nearly every event that relates to the arts in our little corner of the world. But one of my favorites has been the success of the Brookhaven Little Theatre (BLT), one of the oldest amateur theaters in Mississippi.
I remember one Sunday afternoon, when I was a youngster, my mother got out the “good coffee cups” and made cookies and cheese straws for a meeting in our living room. I can’t remember every one there, but I remember Wesson’s John Landress in attendance talking about beginning a little theatre in Brookhaven. I wasn’t invited to the meeting, nor did I really want to be, but years later I was in my first play at BLT because Landress’ idea had prevailed – “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Over the years, hundreds of local amateur actors have trod the boards in production after production at BLT. Men and women who had never been on stage found a home. Directors came from the ranks. Kids who grew up on stage have moved on, some professionally.
BLT bought the old Haven, the last remaining of the early movie theaters in Brookhaven. During the 1980s, it was abandoned and became bit of an eyesore in the downtown area. Years of extensive renovations, done in phases as time and money became available, have produced a first class complex there. Of course, there is the John Landress auditorium, and there is a large meeting room for receptions, table readings and even set building. The old haven, where a lot of young Brookhaven boys and girls may have had their first kiss, has come a long way from near ruin to what it is today as the home of BLT. BLT has unveiled its production schedule for the 2022-2023 season, and once again, it promises to be filled with quality.
The season opens October 20 with the musical version of the classic comedy, “The Addams Family,” the ghoulish family first made popular by cartoonist Charles Addams. The two songs you may have heard from it are “Let’s Not Talk About Anything Else” and “The Moon and Me.”
In December, the set becomes 1940 Indiana, with the story is of Ralphie, a young boy who wanted a Red Ryder BB gun. Everyone’s favorite: “A Christmas Story.” Does Ralphie get the BB gun? Maybe his song “It All Comes Down to Christmas” will convince his parents.
“Little Women” begins the 2023 part of the season. The classic by Louisa M Alcott tells the story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy as they live through poverty, war and all the family endures. It’s a heartwarming story.
The show I am looking forward to is the “Wizard of Oz.” It’s a terrific telling of the story that scared us all when we were kids. Don’t tell me the flying monkeys didn’t get your attention.
The season rounds out with “Footloose” and “101 Dalmatians.” Of course, during the summer, there will be drama camps and productions involving teens and kids.
Brookhaven Little Theatre contributes to the quality of life in our corner of the world. Like music and visual arts, it all adds up to making our lives better.
That’s it folks. Support BLT and all the arts.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Shaw Furlow is a local composer, musician and arts promoter. He produces an internet-based video show -- From the Shadyside -- that spotlights area musical talent and is a consultant to school bands in the region. Bob Arnold is Editor of the Wesson News.