Sometimes, happiness is just a few steps away, and Meridian Little Theatre believes that its upcoming musical production, "Stepping Out" will provide the audience a little happiness, as well as many laughs and a much-needed distraction from our pandemic- imposed routines.
Running Feb. 18-23, the musical chronicles to story of 10 women and a man who get together for their weekly tap dance class.
Former professional dancer Mavis, played by Neeosha Ruffin, tries her hardest to teach a group of bumbling amateurs with two left feet while mediating the minor dramas that erupt between her students in the course of their training.
With the help of her frosty pianist Mrs. Fraser, played by Teresa Anders, Mavis prepares the troupe for their debut performance at a public charity gala.
Guest director Courtney McDonald says she is excited about this production.
A performance artist by nature, McDonald teaches Theater and Music at Southeast Lauderdale Middle.
McDonald earned her Theater Arts degree from the University of Mississippi, and while this is her first professional directing gig, she's no stranger to the footlights. She was last seen in MLT’s "The Sound of Music" as Sister Margaretta.
With MLT restructuring its business plan to promote the participation of guest directors, McDonald becomes not only the first female guest director but the youngest director in the 89 years of the theatre’s life.
“While it’s a huge step for this young woman to take, it’s an equally large leap of faith, and we feel confident in giving her this opportunity," MLT Board of Directors President Sidney Covington said.
Covington also emphasized that while "Stepping Out" is a fun play, it’s also a tough show.
“We have several new actors in this one, some having never acted on the stage, or only having been in small or roles or dancing scenes," she said. "It is fascinating to watch these acting newbies develop their character without even realizing that’s what they’re doing.”
Ruffin is equally excited to return to the stage.
With the role of Mavis, she ventures out into both a dancing and speaking part.
"I haven’t done a performance of any kind since graduating from high school," she said. "So 10, almost 11 years later, I will step way out of my comfort zone for this role. I am so thankful [McDonald] saw potential and gave me an opportunity to do something that is so very different for me.”
Lucas Orndorff, director of choral activities at East Central Community College, holds down the stage as the lone male cast member, Geoffrey.
No stranger to the MLT stage, Orndorff has performed in "Singin’ in the Rain", "Mama Mia", "Noises Off," and "Newsies."
“It’s been fun to get to know this small troupe of performers," he said. "Geoffrey begins the play as a socially awkward guy, but the dancing helps him come out of his shell and make friends.”
Ruffin adds, “We are having a blast at rehearsals and working hard to give Meridian some great entertainment. I cannot wait for everyone to see our talents and the results of our hard work displayed on stage.”
During the musical, MLT will follow all COVID-19 guidelines: All patrons must wear masks inside the facility, and social distancing will be practiced with seating. First-nighter tickets are $50 and include a special boxed meal. General Admission tickets for all shows are $22 for adults and $20 for seniors, students, and veterans.
There is no reserved seating available, and tickets will not be sold online. Guests may purchase tickets at the box office or call 601-482-6371 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All available seats will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.