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Y’all come to ‘Southern Exposure’

Good morning, Natchez and the Miss-Lou! Spring has sprung. Natchez Spring Pilgrimage is ready to begin. The azaleas are blooming at Mayweather Hall and Natchez Little Theatre is ready to present for the 52nd year the classic 1950s romantic comedy about Natchez and the Pilgrimage, “Southern Exposure.”

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. every Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday throughout Spring Pilgrimage, March 9 through April 9.

Tickets are $15 and should be reserved by calling the Natchez Little Theatre, located at 319 Linton Ave. at Maple Street at 601-442-2233, toll-free at 1-877-440-2233 or purchase online at www.natcheztheatre.org. There will be a benefit/preview performance at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 8, as a fundraiser for the Natchez Lions Club and tickets for that performance are $10 with all proceeds going to the local non-profit organization.

“Southern Exposure” had its Natchez premiere in 1951 and has been an annual part of the Spring Pilgrimage since 1964, with more than 1,400 performances for 52 years and an audience of more than 350,000.

“Southern Exposure” has an exciting cast of veterans and newcomers making up two casts. Penelope Mayweather, the owner of Mayweather Hall is played by award-winning actresses, Yvonne Murray and Laurie Williams; Avery Randall, Penelope’s banker/cousin is played by Lee Dellinger and me; Morgan Mizell and Nancy McFarland portray tour guide Mary Belle Tucker; Jonathan Douglas, a.k.a. John Salguod, is played by Dwight Williams for all performances; Penelope’s young cousin, Carol Randall is Arden McMillin and Kaytlyn Walker; and Carol’s domineering mother, Emmeline, is played by Pj Forrest and Morgan Mizell (also playing Mary Belle Tucker).

Appearing as Australia, Miss Penelope’s hilarious housekeeper is Chanda Douglas (winner of 2 Standing Ovation Awards for this role) and newcomer Brittanie Minor. Don Vesterse and Mike Thomas are Benjamin Carter, John’s New York publisher.

Playing the multitude of tourists who wreak havoc on Mayweather Hall and Miss Penelope are Andrea Cupit, Davilyn Davis, Leslie Davis, Steve Davis, Lee Dellinger, Julie Emerick, Ann Sternberg, Don Vesterse and Judy Wiggins.

I am making my directorial debut with this production. I had the great pleasure of designing the sets with Don Vesterse, who has done a magnificent job constructing beautiful Mayweather Hall. Don also served as my assistant director and the lights and sound are being run by Emily Hixon, Layne Taylor and me.

What a thrill it has been to put a new, more farcical twist to this beloved Natchez Pilgrimage classic. Natchez is fortunate to have such a funny, popular play written about our biggest tourist event. The large numbers of patrons, both local and from around the country that return year after year to see the changes are a compliment to Natchez Little Theatre, Mississippi’s oldest community theatre, celebrating 81 years of outstanding entertainment and local talent.

If you haven’t seen “Southern Exposure” during its 52 year history at NLT, this is the year to do it and advance reservations look like this will be one busy Pilgrimage.

Hope to see y’all at “Southern Exposure!”


Bo Allen is the director of the Natchez Little Theatre’s production of “Southern Exposure.”