10TH ANNIVERSARY KATRINA PROJECT CAST ANNOUNCED
Play About Hope and Healing
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, shattering the lives of residents in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Over thirteen hundred people died and hundreds of thousands of Americans were impacted as they welcomed evacuees into their communities and homes.
Ten years later, a region remembers the lessons learned. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has established an official Katrina Remembrance Commission with Former Governor and First Lady Haley and Marsha Barbour as co-chairs. According to Governor Bryant, “The goal of the commission will be honoring those who were lost and those who put their lives on the line to respond and to celebrate how far we’ve come in our recovery.”
For Hattiesburg Public Schools and Just Over the Rainbow Theatre, the 10th Anniversary of the Category 5 storm is an opportunity to continue the healing process for friends and neighbors and to underscore the importance of continuing to document and learn from the national disaster. The joint project of HPSD and JORT, The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water will be staged August 7-9 at Hattiesburg High School Auditorium. According to co-playwright and director of the docudrama Michael Marks, the interest in the production from local actors, technicians and organizations has been tremendous. “We are grateful that this community is still willing to discuss the desperation, anger, fear and hope of those impacted directly by the storm.”
Two weeks ago on the Hattiesburg High School campus, The Katrina Project partnered with a Southern Miss Photo Journalism Workshop to host a seminar on remembering Katrina. Among the speakers were Nedra Allgood (Gulf Coast Recovery Act), Forrest General Hospital Director of Public Safety/Smart911 Technology Wayne Landers and Deputy Charlie Sims, and co-playwright Mackenzie Westmoreland of New York City. As a precursor to the production, high school students from all over the state posed questions, interviewed participants and engaged in dialogue about what happened ten years ago. “I remember mostly that it was the community spirit of neighbor helping neighbor here in the Hub City that got us through. It is good to remember that spirit that makes Hattiesburg strong,” offered Representative Toby Barker, whose local neighborhood was extremely hard hit.
A stellar cast has been assembled with local and statewide artists who are ready to contribute to the celebration recovery. The ensemble includes Briana Exum, Otis Burns, Zhariah Hubbard, Bree Murphy, Sharee Thomas, Chrystal Wilson, Rashard Owens, Tom Hardy, Randy Swan, Paulette Jones Wallace, Dick Allison and Kesia Pope.
Also cast are Dalee Kimble, Parin Patel, James Griffin, Jasmine Murray, Jane Allison, Derek Collins, Danielle Mecalfe, Kristen Dupard, Vince Hatten, Greginald Spencer, Semaj Jordan, Dana Coghlan, Jase Payne, Floyd Patterson, Benjamin Parker, Mimi Wilson and Rashard Smith.
Listed also in the revival show cast are Chris Wooten, Judyth Daley, Savannah Westacott, Reese Allbritton, Aaron Hall, Miles Doleac, Jonathan Lee Taylor and Joe Van Zandt. Chorus members include Allison Pugh, Kayla Rogers, Katherine Woodard, Madison Lanier, Tito Lanier, Jr., Karen Lanier, Christopher Smith, Brandilyne Dear, Terika Pugh, Tyson, Christine Clem, and Brandiilyne Dear.
“As a decade passes, we don’t want America to forget the struggle of these survivors as they rebuild their lives,” said Jasmine Murray, who recently entertained at The National Prayer Breakfast at The White House and just completed a year of service as Miss Mississippi 2014. “The play’s main goal is to utilize that typically Mississippi problem-solving spirit, even though the storm is no longer part of daily headlines.”
Local filmmaker Miles Doleac, who served as artistic consultant for the 2005 production and is currently filming ‘The Hollow’ in The Pine Belt agrees. “Katrina will always be remembered for the lives and property it destroyed, both in my home state and in the great City of New Orleans. We just want to make sure that the people who survived and the thousands of volunteers who gave so much are remembered as well. This is their story and we are honored to be able to share it.”
Curtain is at 7:30 pm on Friday, August 7 and Saturday August 8, with a 2 pm matinee on Sunday, August 9. All tickets are general admission. There are no individual seat reservations. However, tickets can be purchased in advance for early preferred seating. Tickets can also be purchased at the door (but no early preferred seating). Season ticket holder/member tickets are free, tickets mailed to you in advance.
Theatre patrons who want to purchase tickets for the disaster benefit show have several options. Adult tickets are $12 and student tickets are $6. There are four ways to buy tickets:
1. Leave a contact name and phone number with AAA Answering Service (601) 583-7778 and patron will be contacted for payment information.
2. Leave payment information with AAA Answering Service (601) 583-7778 to receive an email confirming the credit card purchase.
3. Purchase tickets through the website www.thekatrinaproject.com
4. Send payment to JORT, 1803 Adeline Street, Hattiesburg, MS 39401.
Response to The Katrina Project has been overwhelmingly positive. From the show’s first sellout benefit performance to a command performance for Congress, the docudrama has generated over $300 thousand in relief monies for disaster victims through royalties and performances worldwide.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities or for ticket information, go online to TheKatrinaProject.com.