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Spring in their steps: Children add thrills, unpredictability to Tableaux

Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — A group of young actors stampedes across the stage following the Big Maypole during a performance of the Historic Natchez Tableaux on Saturday evening.
Jay Sowers / The Natchez Democrat — A group of young actors stampedes across the stage following the Big Maypole during a performance of the Historic Natchez Tableaux on Saturday evening.

When the time comes to plan for the annual Historic Natchez Tableaux, every detail is carefully organized.

Costumes are fitted, lines are rehearsed and the spotlight is trained on the line of important figures from Natchez’s past.

But show after show, and year after year, the spotlight is stolen by something that cannot be planned. Time after time, audience members appear to get the biggest thrill from the smallest members of the cast.

When a dozen or so youngsters prance around the maypoles on stage at the City Auditorium during Tableaux, the laughter begins.

It starts between two children after they bump into each other, or when two tiny best friends see each other in the spotlight for the first time. More likely, though, the laughter started backstage and couldn’t be stopped by any spotlight or script.

Regardless of how it begins, it quickly spreads throughout the venue.

The laughter reaches its peak moment later as the young actors, decked out in period attire, stampede across the open stage and into the arms of waiting family members.

These moments are both fleeting and lasting. Through the years, the names may change, but show after show and year after year, the spotlight shines brightest on the tiniest actors in the Tableaux.