The cabaret theatre will be showing its second production of the 2017-2018 school year, “Miss Firecracker Contest,” Thursday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 12. This Beth Henley piece is set in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and follows the adventures and miscues of main character, Carnelle Scott, as she attempts to change her reputation and become more like her former Miss Firecracker aunt, Elain Rutledge. Cousin Delmount Williams and wacky seamstress Popeye Jackson round out this oddly assembled group of misfits and lead to a countless number of laughs and jokes you will be talking about for days to come.
When asked why this particular piece had been selected to follow “Hey Look: a Kids Show for Kids,” Dan Heaton said, “It’s a comedy. It’s by one of my favorite play writes, and it’s just a different kind of show for us to do.”
And different it has been. With the production being set in great ole Mississippi, it forced the cast to not only nail down their southern accents, but also obtain a greater knowledge of southern culture as a whole.
“One of my highlights for this play has been just working with the students,” Heaton said. “Because it’s a southern play, and no one in the cast is southern, getting them to do southern accents and understand the southern sense of humor is very different for a bunch of people from Ohio.”
Heaton isn’t alone is seeing the opportunities and challenges that come along with doing this play. Sylvie Staiger, who stars as the production’s main character Carnelle admitted to feeling the weight of these challenges.
“Connecting with my character Carnelle was kind of difficult,” Staiger said. “I had to change my look; I dyed my hair red. Learning a southern accent was pretty difficult, but I think I’ve got it down now. But she reminds me a lot of myself in that we are both stubborn but able to pull through.”
Hannah Jones, who marvelously portrays Carnelle’s aunt Elain Rutledge, also encountered challenges in connecting with her character.
“We kind of reference and compare this show to be like ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ in that the characters are all extremely flawed,” Jones said. “My character specifically has racist comments and is an alcoholic, and I’m neither of those things, which is something that I definitely have difficulty resonating with. But I think I find the things that are joyful in her and am able to show them throughout the play.”
This production is humorous from its beginning scenes and will draw audiences in from the curtain’s opening and keep them entertained through the bows. With its random actions, awkward romantic couplings and countless babbling Popeye stories, it is sure to be a hit with all in attendance.
“The audiences should be excited for the cast to shamelessly play roles and tell a story that will probably never happen [in real life], but [one that’s] ridiculous and [that viewers will] still be able to enjoy,” Jones said.