Come see new vision for Historic Natchez Tableaux
Published 1:01 am Tuesday, March 14, 2017
When you walk around the city of Natchez in March, there are certain indications that spring is quickly approaching. Azaleas blooming in shades of pink, purple and white. Warmer temperatures and longer days. And, of course, women wearing hoop skirts.
It is time again for the Historic Natchez Tableaux. With Chesney Doyle taking the lead creatively on the project this year, she has worked with her lifelong friend Ann Paradise to create a show that pulls together scenes that are both old favorites, fresh new ideas and all completely Natchez.
This year’s Tableaux Committee, which consists of women from both The Natchez Garden Club and The Pilgrimage Garden Club, have been working around the clock to make Chesney’s and Ann’s visions a reality. Led by our Chairmen Genny Harrison and Jennifer Slover, the Tableaux Committee truly feels that there is a scene for everyone to enjoy in this year’s Historic Tableaux.
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There are several scenes that are Natchez favorites that have stood the test of time and will once again be featured in the Tableuax. Who doesn’t love watching the small children do “Little Maypole” followed by the “Big Maypole” and the extravagant braiding that takes place by the older children? Another “favorite” that has returned is the “Soiree Sweetheart” dance. This gorgeous dance takes place at Jefferson Military College, where it is known that the cadets would invite only the prettiest girls to attend their balls. A fun scene that is always a hit with the crowd is “Under The Hill,” featuring everything from bar fights to Can-Can Dancers, all causing a good time and usually bringing the crowd to their feet.
We also have several scenes making reappearances, but with some changes. One of the scenes that many people are excited to see make its way back on stage is “The Hunt,” complete with actual hunting dogs that will be at each performance! Another scene that the 2017 Tableaux Committee is excited to bring back is “The Polka.” This year, “The Polka” has new choreography that tells the story of John Quitman and Elizabeth Turner’s love affair before leading into the Maypole scenes. We also have scenes showing the history of the ownership of Natchez, starting with when The Nachee Native Americans originally lived in Natchez, followed by a quick tour through all the other countries which once claimed Natchez as their own, before we became part of the United States of America.
So, what can you look forward to with this year’s Tableaux that you may have not seen in the past? You’ll see scenes throughout featuring prominent Natchez figures that have not gotten their time in the spotlight, such as the Barber of Natchez, William Johnson. Also, the 2017 Historic Tableaux doesn’t just end after the Civil War. After the “Secession and Surrender” scenes, the audience will be treated to an act devoted to “Reconstruction to Ragtime,” with a special focus on both Natchez’s own famous photographer, Henry Norman, and our blues legend, Bud Scott.
With our final act, you will get to see a reenactment of how the Tableaux came to be as an idea to help bring money to our town by the women of Natchez in the Garden Club. You will also see a reenactment of the Parade that took place in honor of the Tableaux, which included the “Azalea Queen” and “Japonica King,” along with their royal court.
The Natchez Garden Club and The Pilgrimage Garden Club would like to invite all citizens of the Miss-Lou to come to our opening night at 8 p.m. Friday. Because of you and your love for our hometown, just show your local ID at the front door and your admission is free. We want you to experience this new Tableaux with us and hopefully leave with something from the performance — be that new knowledge about your town, the fun of seeing your fellow Natchezians performing in the Tableaux or what I personally hope for everyone, pleasure that you live in a town with such a rich history, so much unlike any other town in America, that the next time you tell someone you are from Natchez, you say it with a little more pride than you have in the past.
Lauren Burns is The Natchez Garden Club Co-Chairman for the 2017 Tableuax Committee