NLT’s latest production filled with laughter, poignancy

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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NATCHEZ — This weekend, long-time Natchez Little Theatre performer Judy Wiggins makes her directorial debut with a hysterical, emotional, infuriating and heart-wrenching Del Shores’ play “Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Natchez Little Theatre.

The performance will take viewers through a “wide range of emotions,” said Darlene Gilbert, who is playing Saralee.

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“I’m the middle daughter, the one who stayed home while everyone else moved off and lived their life,” Gilbert said. “I stay home to take care of Daddy and Mama Wheelis, even though she doesn’t think she needs to be taken care of. I try to hold everything together and tries to make sure everyone else gets along even though I’m the one who winds up blowing a gasket and losing it on everybody.”

Gilbert added she relates particularly well with her character because she too stayed home to take care of her parents as an adult before they passed away and understands what her character goes through in the play.

Gilbert said others should come see the play because they might relate to parts of the play as well.

“The last couple of years have been pretty crazy with COVID and we’re trying to get things as back to normal as possible. The theater and music world and performers have really taken a hit when it comes to COVID because everything got shut down. Slowly, we’re getting back on track. This play takes you through a wide range of emotions. We’ve got funny, emotional, anger, shock. It’s a little bit of everything and it’s very relatable,” she said.

Rusty Jenkins, a seasoned actor who plays Daddy Turnover, said his character suffers a bad stroke and is nearing the end of his life.

“My scenes are kind of emotional ones. People are going to laugh for sure, but it’s going to make some people cry too,” he said. However, Jenkins said the play has a lot more laugh out loud moments than anything else.

When NLT performed “Sordid Lives,” another of Del Shores’ plays “this place was packed for three or four nights in a row,” Jenkins said.

“He wrote this play too, and it’s really funny,” he said.

Yvonne Murray, another seasoned performer at Natchez Little Theatre, plays Mama Wheelis, the “very simple” grandmother.

“I do not like when people curse,” she said. “I spend a lot of the play telling people to watch their language. I am also very outspoken and try to keep everybody under control — which is impossible.”

Murray said one of her favorite scenes is when she pulls out a shotgun to run off the neighbor’s destructive mutt, Sam, after he steals Mama Wheelis’ sausages and ruins her garden.

Tickets are $15 each and can be reserved by calling 601-442-2233 or emailing