Organizers tweak historic Tableaux

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 1, 2010

NATCHEZ — Even the most time-honored traditions need a little tweaking to keep up with modern times, and the Historic Natchez Tableaux is no exception, organizers say.

Changes are evident throughout this year’s Tableaux, from the period costumes to the refreshment stand stationed outside Natchez City Auditorium.

Guests can purchase soft drinks as well as alcoholic beverages at the stand, Natchez Garden Club President Cheryl Morace said. Morace and Pilgrimage Garden Club President Sis Stowers said the refreshment stand is an additional service for both tourists and locals to enjoy.

“We’re trying to think outside the box,” Morace said. “We thought to ourselves, ‘What conveniences can we make for our guests?’ We thought about tourists who come to Tableaux straight from dinner or who have been on tours all day.”

Morace said the Tableaux is making a profit from the stand, which has been well received. She also said soft drink and water sales have so far trumped alcohol sales.

Morace and Stowers said both clubs are working to develop new marketing strategies for the Tableaux, which highlights the founding of Natchez in 1716, to the start of the Civil War in 1861. Ideas include projecting scenes of the Tableaux on the walls throughout the production. Morace said incorporating more technical aspects into the Tableaux could attract a broader audience.

Natchez Pilgrimage Tours Director Marsha Colson supports the continued tweaks both garden clubs have made to the Tableaux, and encourages the clubs to continue its efforts.

“We have to market differently because people’s interest aren’t static, so the product can’t be static,” Colson said.

Morace said last year’s Tableaux figures were “terribly low.” The garden clubs drastically slashed operating costs this year, and volunteers coordinate the production.

Morace said she is optimistic this year’s figures will tell a different story.

“I’m very encouraged and very hopeful,” Morace said. “It’s good for us to look within the operation and see what we can do better.”