'Company,' JSU Drama Department

(From left) Gavin Haynes, Charissa Johnson and Sean Golson in ‘Company’ at JSU, March 8-11

If you have any doubt that theater communicates on a universal level, you may change your mind after seeing four area upcoming shows. These productions bring messages about morals, commitment, what’s really important in life and family complications at weddings. Light or serious in mood, they each give us much to process in our minds and, hopefully, in the end, to celebrate.

‘The Lion King Jr.’ by CAST Kidz

In “The Lion King Jr.,” animals tell the meaning of the circle of life, a philosophy shared by a lion family in Africa. A newborn cub, Simba, is heir to the throne now held by his father, King Mufasa. A jealous brother (Scar) seeks to destroy this plan. Sadly, the outlook for Simba’s claim to the throne looks bleak. Hyenas, elephants, giraffes and two friends — a meerkat (Timon) and a warthog (Pumbaa) — who rescue Simba, add to the tale of survival.

The musical’s plot was influenced by Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” according to CAST Kidz directors.

CAST Kids will present the show at the Anniston Performing Arts Center, 1301 Woodstock Ave., on March 7, 9 and 10 (there is no performance March 8).

Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. March 7; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. March 9; and 2:30 p.m. March 10.

All tickets are $10.

‘Company’ at Jacksonville State University

The JSU Drama Department presents Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” In this plot, Bobby, a bachelor, is re-examining his single life on the morning of his 35th birthday. The work is largely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre, and features many of Sondheim’s best-known songs.

In reality, Bobby may be getting more advice from his friends than he wants to hear about getting married, but he listens and learns. The musical comedy, set in New York City, addresses the choice of being married or staying single.

The cast includes Gavin Haynes, Shauna Steward, Kelsey Trussell, Abbie Beatty, Christian Watts, Tiffany Jenkins, Sean Golson, Charissa Johnson, Larry Mason, Meghan Day, Michael Greenwood, Lydia Clarke, David Wooten and Judy Shealy.

“Company” is appropriate for ages 15 and up; it includes some adult language and sexual situations.

Performances are at the Ernest Stone Performing Arts Center at JSU.

Shows on March 8, 9 and 11 begin at 7:30 p.m., while the matinee on March 10 begins at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at jsu.edu/drama or in the box office prior to the show. For more information, call 256-782-5648.

‘Our Town’ at Alabama Shakespeare Festival

As the drama unfolds, “Our Town” becomes your town. As director Bruce Longworth writes in his program notes for this production at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, we all have triumphs and disappointments, joys and grief during our lives, just as the characters in this play experience.

“We fall in love, have our hearts broken and then do it all over again,” he writes. “‘Our Town’ is about the human community. It reminds us of what binds us together — rather than what divides us.”

The play by Thornton Wilder is a classic, one that 75 years after it was written still resonates on a subject to which we can all relate. Life is a gift, the drama’s message conveyed to this writer, and should be treasured moment by moment. In this play, we are reminded of what’s really important in our busy lives.

The play continues through April 27 at the festival theater in Montgomery. For information on tickets ($28-$62) and specific dates of performances, call 1-800-841-4273.

‘Mamma Mia’ needs singers, dancers

Brian Rothwell, director of “Mamma Mia” by CAST community theater, puts out the call for male singers and dancers ages 18-30 for the musical comedy

The production will be May 9-12 at McClellan Theatre in Anniston.

“This is truly a good piece of entertainment,” Rothwell said. “It will have the audience dancing in their seats.”

In the plot, Sophie is planning to get married but wants to walk down the aisle with her true father. So far, as she learned from reading her mother’s diary, her father could be one of three men. The way she tries to find out his identity is both confusing and amusing, and finally she decides that the parent she really honors is her mother. The show is rated PG-13.

Besides singers and dancers, Rothwell is also looking for volunteers for backstage work. Contact him at barothwell@aol.com.

Kim Dobbs at Theatre of Gadsden

In response to readers’ requests, here are the dates when actress Kim Dobbs of Anniston will perform in Theatre of Gadsden’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

They are March 15 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.; and March 16 and 24 at 2:30 p.m.

A production for schools will be at 8:30 a.m. March 21.

The venue is the Ritz Theatre at 310 Wall St. in Gadsden.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.