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Community Theater Makes Its Debut at Updated Gore Arts Complex
Brick Street Players’ "Blithe Spirit" captivated audiences & broke new ground.
“Blithe Spirit” follows novelist Charles (played by Jim Goode), who, conducting research for a story, hosts a seance in his home. Involved in the ritual are Charles’s second wife, Ruth (Sarah Hankins); the neighbors, the Bradmans (Mark Jourdan and TJ McSparrin); and medium Madame Arcati (Allie Bennett). When the night goes awry, he has to reckon with another, unexpected guest: the ghost of his first wife, Elvira (Chrissy Sanders). Also featured in the cast was Mississippi College sophomore, Ainsley Marler, who portrayed Edith, the maid.
Audience members, including Mississippi College senior Camden Clem, enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek comedy, the actors’ performances, and the show’s impressive effects.
“The staging and the tech behind it was phenomenal,” Clem said. “There were lots of doors flying open, things falling off of walls – that was very cool.”
“Blithe Spirit” was the first play staged in the Gore Arts Complex since its recent renovations, as well as the first show of the Brick Street Players’ 2023-2024 season.
The Brick Street Players are no stranger to the venue. Since its first performance in 1982, the organization was dissolved and reestablished twice. During the Players’ second iteration in the early 2000s, the troupe routinely performed in the auditorium of what was once Clinton Junior High.
Soon after the school shuttered its doors, so did the Brick Street Players. The old Clinton Junior High property was sold to MC in 2010 and slated for major renovations. In 2021, the renovations began, and the Brick Street Players experienced a reconstruction of their own: the organization was reestablished in the same year.
Allie Bennett, “Blithe Spirit” cast member and current Brick Street Players vice president, was among the renewed group’s founding members. Bennett says that “Blithe Spirit” is just the beginning of what Brick Street Players has in store.
“This is only our second season, and our first show here, so we’re kind of learning together how the new space works, and what its strong points are, and how it can have even more functionality,” said Bennett.
The troupe plans to use the Gore Arts Complex to stage productions for the foreseeable future.
“Blithe Spirit” marks the start of a mutually beneficial partnership, according to Nate Jarnagin, administrative assistant for the Department of Art and coordinator for the Gore Arts Complex. Jarnagin said that the arts facility was designed to provide a stage for community events.
“It’s not just to benefit the college,” said Jarnigan. “There’s a community aspect to what all we’re doing over here.”
According to Jarnagin, the facility faced several technical challenges in the weeks preceding the show, from sound and lights to air conditioning. “There’s been some challenges, but I think we’ve been able to iron them out before this event was in the space. There’s always something unforeseen, and some type of challenge you can’t expect, and you do what you can to mitigate what you can beforehand,” Jarnigan said.
“It’s just so fun, and a great opportunity, and I’m so glad that Gore is being used for this now. My mom went to, I think, ninth grade in that building, and every time we drive past, she’s like, ‘I went to school there!’ And now they’re doing theater there again,” Clem said.
The Brick Street Players will continue their 2023-2024 season with a production of “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol”, slated for performances Nov. 16-19. In the meantime, the Gore Arts Complex is scheduled to host several MC events in its auditorium, including the Institute of Southern Storytelling’s event with Randall Wallace, as well as MC Theatre’s upcoming production of “Murder on the Orient Express”. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the auditorium took place on Thu, Sept. 21, where it was officially renamed the Entergy Theater.
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