For what ails you

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 30, 2007

For the past 33 years, Lynn Mann has given audiences a taste of authentic 19th century riverboat entertainment. Since the creation of “Mississippi Medicine Show” she has been a part of the cast, starting out as a dancing girl and now taking on the roll of the “ditsy blond” Ms. Scarlette.

“I was in the very first show,” she said. “I’ve done it for so long now, it’s just part of me, part of what I do.”

The Natchez Little Theatre variety show was started in the late 70s as entertainment for the Fall Pilgrimage and after a two-year hiatus, returns to the stage this weekend, said Director Layne Taylor.

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“It was created by the theatre’s board of directors,” he said. “The show was designed to be reminiscent of the old riverboat shows of the 1800s.”

For Mann, it’s hard to top being a dancing girl, but she said her new role is just as exciting.

“It’s so much fun,” she said. “I’ve been asked why we don’t have the dancers anymore and I tell them it’s because all the dancers just got too old.”

Taylor describes the show as a re-creation of the old steamboat times when traveling variety shows toured with the top talent of the day and pedaled miracle cures to the audiences.

“The show’s master of ceremonies Dr. Morphineus Codeine Shingles, played by Rusty Jenkins, is a character that touts his “magic elixir” to the audiences — just like the way they used to do it,” Taylor said. “Dr. Shingles provides the humor for us.”

Mann’s clueless Ms. Scarlette also helps out with the comic relief.

“My jokes are cheesy, but the audiences love them,” she said. “It’s so much fun doing this.”

Natchez Little Theatre has performed “Mississippi Medicine Show” for hundreds of thousands of people across the county, Taylor said.

In 2002, the original show was “tweaked” to make it more authentic. The sets were changed and the costumes were designed to be more reflective of the period, he said.

“The show has changed a little, but the barebones are still the same,” Mann said. “We took out the dancing and some of the different acts, but it’s still set in Vaudeville times.”

The show will be performed at 8 every Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday night through Oct. 13. There will also be a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 14. For reservations or more information, call 601-442-2233 or 1-877-440-2233.