‘Tara Tremendous’

Talia Ryder, Anniston’s Ramsey Whitney and Allie Jordan Busher take a break from rehearsal for ‘Tara Tremendous’ in New York City.

With the unsettling situations going on in the world today, creating positive content for theater audiences might help morale. The positive permeates a new show, “Tara Tremendous,” being developed for Broadway.

Perhaps the most positive aspect of the musical for area audiences is that 12-year-old Ramsey Whitney of Anniston is in the cast.

A preview concert of the show, which features songs written by Stewart St. John and Michael Plahuta, was presented last March in New York City.

While there, the cast recorded an album of 20 songs, which is now available on CD or digital download from iTunes, Amazon, or wonkybot.com.

You can hear songs from “Tara” in Anniston on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m., when Whitney and others perform at the Anniston Performing Arts Center. This is the first stop on a tour promoting the full-length musical and cast album. The tour will continue with destinations in Atlanta and Florida.

In “Tara Tremendous,” Whitney portrays Lydia Benedict, the conniving socialite cousin of Tara, an underdog (with values) who accidentally acquires the powers of a superhero.

Whitney is the lead vocalist in the song “Ordinary” in the musical. St. John, the show’s writer and director, has high praise for her work.

“When it came time to perform her song from the ‘Tara Tremendous’ concert in New York City, Ramsey got up on stage like a veteran, belting out a flawless performance right alongside all the other Broadway stars, including Micky Dolenz from the Monkees,” he said.

“Same thing happened when we got into the studio to record the tracks for the cast album. She was ready to go, and laid down her vocals like a total professional.

“I had written the role of Lydia with Ramsey in mind, and listening to her sing ‘Ordinary’ so beautifully, I couldn’t imagine anyone else performing it.”

Whitney, a seventh-grader at Munford Middle School, has chalked up a lot of experience with CAST community theater and other area theater groups.

Her response to accolades is simply that she’s having fun with any theater experience — but making sure she is prepared is key. “I liked meeting the new people in New York City,” she said. “Whenever I’m in a theater, I think of it as my second home.”

Whitney is also involved in filming an educational show for Alabama Public Television, which will premiere in December.

Also, Whitney and Vivian Smith will share the title role in “Annie,” presented by CAST community theater Nov. 16-19 at Anniston Performing Arts Center. Smith is in the fifth grade at Donoho.

Piedmont teacher exhibits at Gadsden museum

“On Finding Your Bluebird,” a theater set design display by Jason Wright, art instructor at Piedmont Middle School, will open at the Gadsden Museum of Art, 515 Broad St., Tuesday from 5-7 p.m.

The inspiration for the exhibit comes from the fantasy play “The Bluebird,” written in the 1930s by Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian symbolist playwright.

Everyone is invited to the opening reception. More details in next week’s column.

Curtain opens for JSU drama season

The 2017-18 season for the Jacksonville State University drama department is underway at the Ernest Stone Center for the Performing Arts.

Work crews are renovating the theater lobby and lights. A new state-of-the art theatrical lighting system is also being installed.

Here at the productions in the upcoming season:

Oct. 27-30: Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People.” As a small Norwegian town prepares to open its healing springs, a local doctor discovers deadly pollution in the waters. But will the townspeople listen to his warnings? This drama explores what happens when the truth collides with the will of the majority.

“Even though it was written in the 1800s, the issues expressed are topical today,” said Michael Boynton, director.” I think it will be a hard-hitting, informative and interesting performance.”

Nov. 29-30: Annual Student Showcase of one-act plays and displays of student design work.

Feb. 23-March 4: “Guys and Dolls,” the musical that spawned the familiar hits “A Bushel and a Peck,” “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat” and “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.”     

March 29-30: A workshop production of the winner of the annual Southern Playwrights Competition, “Lillian, Paula. Carson” by John Barrow.

April 13-15: Lois Lowry’s Newbery award-winning young adult novel “The Giver,” in an adaptation by Eric Coble. Jonas lives in a utopian society in which each person is assigned a role in the community. When he is chosen for special training from The Giver — to receive and keep the memories of the community — Jonas will discover what it means to grow up, grow wise and take control of your own destiny.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call 256-782-5648 or visit www.jsu.edu/drama.

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