Imagine the excitement of finding out major stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift are filming a movie in your small town.
This is how the residents of Natchez, Mississippi, are feeling in 1956 in Seeing Stars in Dixie, the fall play being presented by the Yellow Point Drama Group (YPDG) Oct. 3-19. It’s the days before the paparazzi, and star-struck locals are hoping to spot Taylor and Clift nearby shooting a movie.
But there’s much more going on in the play than the movie production.
Seeing Stars in Dixie, written by Ron Osborne and directed by Joanne Rowland for YPDG, centers around Clemmie’s Tea Room, where an insecure proprietress attracts a secret admirer, directs her own cast of customers and competes for a moment in the spotlight.
Full of twists, this lighthearted comedy stars Patricia Zogar as Clemmie; Evelyn Applin as Tootie, her opinionated friend; Tabi Jasper as former beauty queen Jo Beth; Michael Robinson as Glease, a man with a well-developed fashion sense; and Inge Cathers as devious social climber Marjorie.
“It’s a lovely, gentle comedy set in the 1950s, and I think it’s relative to today because there are a lot of relationship issues in the play,” said YPDG president Brian March. “The things they have to overcome are things we still have to deal with today. Really, it’s a story of how the characters within the play deal with their own personal issues of inadequacy and the problems they have in their personal lives, and how they get through it through the excitement of a movie coming to town. There is a lot of good stuff in it.”
Rowland agrees the play is “really quite fun.”
“They learn a lot about themselves in this play,” she said. “They take chances they’ve never taken before; they overcome obstacles in their life that makes them enjoy life more.”
Rowland feels the play is quite relatable.
“We watch these real people discover something about themselves, and I think we’re all looking to do that,” she said. “It has some humor, but there are also some life stories in it.”
Seeing Stars in Dixie is Rowland’s directorial debut for YPDG. She has been an actor for many years, and she says she has enjoyed learning a lot about acting from the various directors she has worked with and by listening to adjudicators at the Theatre BC Mainstage festival in Kamloops. Rowland directed plays when she was in Ontario, and she was assistant director for two plays with Ladysmith Little Theatre.
Rowland has been enjoying directing Seeing Stars in Dixie.
“There’s been a lot of laughter,” she said. “We have shared a lot of ideas … [The actors] are all so generous with helping each other and trusting each other. It’s a good ensemble cast.”
Rowland says Seeing Stars in Dixie has a very simple set — which was designed by her husband, Bruce — and that lets the audience really focus on the characters.
“We’ve kept everything minimal so the audience can enjoy the interaction with the characters because this is really a character-driven play,” she said.
Seeing Stars in Dixie opens Thursday, Oct. 3 with a discounted preview evening when tickets are $12, and the play runs over three weekends Oct. 4-19. Doors open at 7 p.m., and show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults and $12 for youth.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, doors open at 6 p.m. for an 8 p.m. dinner-theatre presentation. Tickets are $35 and include a three-course dinner. On Saturday, Oct. 19, doors open at 1 p.m. for a 2 p.m. matinee performance; tickets are $12.
Tickets for are available at the door at Cedar Hall (2388 Cedar Rd.) or by calling 250-245-7516. For more, click here.