NLT ready for Fall Pilgrimage show

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greetings Natchez and the Miss-Lou! Fall is upon us and so is the Natchez Fall Pilgrimage. Natchez Little Theatre’s 64th season is proud to present its original musical production of “Mississippi Medicine Show” after a four-year hiatus.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial “Mississippi Medicine Show” takes you back to the Natchez of the Civil War era, a re-creation of old steamboat times when traveling shows pedaled their miracle cures up and down the mighty Mississippi River with the top talent of the day.

Dr. Morphineus Codeine Shingles touts his “Magic Wondrous Healing Oil, the Elixir of Life!” and brings with him his hilarious sidekick, Miss Scarlette and a group of performers singing the popular music of the 1800s and about the river. Classics by Stephen Foster, Jerome Kern, Roger Miller and songs of the Civil War performed in period costumes as well as the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain.

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“Mississippi Medicine Show,” an original Natchez Little Theatre production, has been entertaining audiences from around the world since 1976. Conceived by the NLT Board of Directors in 1975, as an entertainment for visitors to Natchez during the first Fall Pilgrimage, “Mississippi Medicine Show” derives its name from the traveling shows, which traversed the country in olden times.

When the audience gathered, the flamboyant master of ceremonies would hawk “medicine,” a cure-all tonic of questionable ingredients.

From the first show presented at Natchez Little Theatre, the unique variety show has delighted tens of thousands of Natchez visitors, not to mention its road performances in New Orleans, San Antonio, Philadelphia, throughout Alabama and aboard the steamboat, Delta Queen.

The show so delighted audiences that is was called back for 17 performances during the New Orleans World’s Fair of 1984.

This year finds the Robert E. Lee Showboat coming to Natchez Little Theatre with a host of talent on board! Rusty Jenkins is the indomitable Dr. Morphineus Codeine Shingles and Lynn Mann and Arden McMillin will share Miss Scarlette. Featured soloists are Benta’ Thomas, Colby Passman, Thea Stewart, Amanda Wingfield, Deanna Hayden, myself, Angela Landers, Patricia Ware, Jaelin Jones and Nicholas Carroll.

Joining them are Roderick Whitley, accompanist and musical director, George Piazza on drums, Morgan Mizell and Don Vesterse. I staged the production, and Don Vesterse has created a set reminiscent of Under-the-Hill and the Robert E. Lee.

“Mississippi Medicine Show” celebrates its 35th year at NLT this Pilgrimage.

“Mississippi Medicine Show” runs every Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, evening at 8 p.m. throughout the Natchez Fall Pilgrimage, Sept. 30 through Oct. 15, and will close on Sunday, Oct. 16, with a 2 p.m. matinee.

All tickets are $15, and reservations should be made by calling Natchez Little Theatre, located at 319 Linton Ave., at 601-442-2233; toll-free at 1-877-440-2233 or visiting NLT’s website at

NLT will present a benefit/preview performance at 7 p.m. Thursday to benefit the Green Alliance. These benefit tickets will be $10 with all proceeds going the non-profit organization, The Green Alliance.

I look forward to seeing you at “Mississippi Medicine Show!”

Layne Taylor is NLT’s artistic and executive director and the director of “Mississippi Medicine Show.”