Henry discovers talent for theater

Published 12:38 am Sunday, November 4, 2007

Landon Henry is a man of many faces. He writes, he acts, he sings, he directs — all in the same play. In the world of theater, there’s not much he can’t do.

The 19-year-old Natchez native combined his diverse theater talent with his love for God to tackle issues he thinks are relevant to today’s society. In “Becoming Angels,” Henry’s two main characters face hardships that are eventually overcome with help from God. The female character struggles with an abusive, alcoholic father. The male character fights to be accepted in church. Both find hope and redemption in Jesus Christ.

“The play is a way to show people Christ and Christianity,” he said. “It’s very relevant to life – my life anyways. People need to stop and think about these things.”

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It was Henry’s personal love for God and his family’s own struggles that inspired his play.

“Alcohol has been a demon in my family,” he said. “It’s a disease that’s hard to overcome, but people need to know the best way to do it is with Christ. I was raised to have a love for God. I realized early that this was the way of life that was right.”

Henry wrote his creation in just one night, including the lyrics to all of the play’s songs. He borrowed music from “Big River” and reworked it to fit his production. After a couple of nights of rewrites, he had his final product.

“The time I spent working on it really brought me closer to God. When I was done, I decided this was it. If people like it — great. If they don’t — too bad.”

Henry’s passion for theater was ignited only two years ago. After a small role in a high school play, he joined Natchez Little Theatre at the invitation of Executive Director Layne Taylor. In just one week, Henry learned the dance steps, music and lines for his first NLT performance. Since that initial show, Henry has been involved with almost every NLT production. He credits his time at the theater with giving him the experience and skills he needed to create his own play.

“Landon is extremely creative,” Taylor said. “He’s a remarkable young man with a lot of talent. He’s been an actor, stage manager, lighting technician and is currently assistant directing a play for us.We’re hoping to have him directing a play before he graduates from college.”

Henry is hoping to turn his theater experience and passion into a lifelong career. After graduating from Copiah-Lincoln Community College, he plans on studying theater at the University of Southern Mississippi. From there he hopes to perform professionally in Hollywood or New York City. He also hopes to be able to teach theater someday.

“When I first got into theater, I didn’t know what I was good at,” he said. “But I soon realized I had it in me. It’s a passion now, something I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to go for it. I want to perform at that level.”

Taylor said he was confident that Henry would be successful at any level.

“He’s one of those that has ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ is,” Taylor said. He has what it takes.”

“Becoming Angels” will be performed at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at Calvary Baptist Church in Natchez.