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Hit ‘Samuel’ draws sellout for theatre’s finale

April 28, 2012

By MATT CRANE

Starkville Community Theatre closes its 2011-2012 season with the final performance of “Second Samuel” tonight at 7:30 p.m.

“Second Samuel” tells the story of the residents of Second Samuel, Ga. The action takes place in the summer of 1948 when Miss Gertrude, an elderly and respected member of the community, dies.

Previously featured shows from this season include comedies “See How They Run” and “Beau Jest;” the musical comedy “She Loves Me;” and a season extra holiday show titled “Uh Oh! Here Comes Christmas.”

“Second Samuel” is written by Pamela Parker and directed by Pattye Archer. The show features a cast of 11 performers.

SCT hosted Parker when she visited Starkville for the production’s opening weekend. Parker hosted an April 20 talkback session which gave audience members and local writers a chance to ask questions and seek advice.

The production premiered April 19 and has entertained sold-out audiences since. Archer said the response has been positive so far.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “People seem to really connect with the characters and the message of the show.”

That message is one of community and acceptance.

“Second Samuel” is a memory play from the perspective of B Flat, played by Lyle Tate. The playwright alludes B Flat suffers from some kind of mental handicap, a definition Tate believes is assigned to his character by those around him.

“(Tate and Archer) realized that we don’t really know what is wrong or right with B Flat,” Tate said. “I just want him to be honest, and simple, and truthful.”

Kendrick Vivians plays the role of U.S., a friend of B Flat’s and an outsider himself because of his race. Vivians describes his character’s relationship with B Flat as genuine.

“He knows how it is to be different,” Vivians said. “He has compassion for B Flat. As U.S., I feel like I am an outlet for him.”

While “Second Samuel” marks Vivians’ debut with SCT, many of the actors have shared the stage for years.

“Everybody out there has been on stage so much together,” cast member Marianne Ulmer said.

Three separate locations are featured throughout the production. The men of Second Samuel congregate at the local bar called the Bait ‘n Brew. Aside from Tate and Vivians, the male cast includes Christopher Walrath as Mansel Dean a war veteran and farmer; Kris Lee as Doc, the town physician; Gabe Smith as Frisky Madison, owner of the Bait ‘n Brew; Charlie Campbell as Mr. Mozel, a cantankerous man about town; and Brad Moreland as June Cline, Second Samuel’s resident funeral director.

The Change Your Life Hair and Beauty Emporium serves as a haven for the women in town. Madeline Golden plays Omaha Nebraska, owner of the beauty parlor; Heather Box as Ruby, an assistant at the salon; Marianne Ulmer as Jimmy Deeanne, the town’s vain beauty queen; and Terry McDowell as Marcela Dean, Mansel’s wife and frequent sparring partner with Jimmy Deeanne.

The production begins and ends on the front porch of Miss Gertrude’s house, a fitting location for the actors who all consider the Playhouse on Main a second home.

“The message of the script is about friendship, love and community,” Archer said, “and SCT has always been a family of friends.”

SCT is sold out of seats for tonight’s performance, but Archer and other cast members have taken to social media sites encouraging anyone wanting to see the show to call the SCT box office and sign up for the waiting list. For more information, call 662-323-8655.

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