Hattiesburg High School Forensics and Just Over the Rainbow Theatre will partner to produce JORT’s last show of their “Season of Courage.” Blessed Assurance, a local commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer, will be staged at Hattiesburg High School’s Playhouse on April 22 and 23 at 7:30 pm.

After being ousted by Petal Mayor Hal Marx from its longtime home at The Petal Center for Arts and Humanities because of 3-D School Expansion, JORT has been homeless, given only one week per show to rehearse and produce at The Petal Civic Center. “We are grateful for a new lease on life,” says current JORT President Chris Wooten. “Hattiesburg High School has given us a short-term fix for our lack of a theatre home.”

“This was a natural fit,” says HHS Forensics Director Scott Waldrop. “HHS Faculty member Alma McDonald and HHS Thespian President English Strange are both cast in the production.” Waldrop, who spoke last week on Civil Rights and Closing the Achievement Gap to Hattiesburg Arts Council, is glad to see the HHS Forensics mission come to life. “I am grateful that our students will have an opportunity to host this great event. Blessed Assurance is the history of all of us.”

Acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins in Mississippi, the JORT “Season of Courage” wraps up with Deena Semmons’ direction of Blessed Assurance. In the turbulent Freedom Summer of 1964, Olivia, the cook for the Whitehouse café, has shocked her small southern town by marching up to the courthouse steps demanding to register to vote.

Her choice to stand up for her rights forces those closest to her to find the courage to confront the hatred, ignorance, and injustice of the town. This powerful drama, written by Laddy Sartin, portrays the quiet heroes of this troubled time trying their best to overcome a world forcing them into difficult decisions.

Cast in the much anticipated drama:

Olivia - Alma McDonald

Lewis - Thomas Semmons

Harlan - Jason Lang

Slick - Blake Gerald

Sally - English Strange

Technical Staff - Irene Waites and Jay Norris

Director - Dena Semmons

Assistant Director - Sona Roberts

“This has really turned into a Save JORT Campaign. We have had so many calls from our friends in the theatre community expressing their disbelief in our situation, “says former President Michael Marks. “ I only hope the patrons and the public understand how much we appreciate them and need them to attend this show.”

As for the future of JORT, “The Calvary arrived just in time this week. We will hold out for another miracle,” says organization treasurer Lucy Shows.

Show dates are April 22 and 23. Tickets are $12 and $6 for students with student identification. Reservations suggested and walk-ins are welcomed. Curtain is 7:30 pm at The Hattiesburg High School Playhouse across the parking lot from Smokie Harrington Baseball Stadium. For reservations, call 601-583-7778. For more information or to make a charitable donation toward a permanent home for JORT, visit JORT’s website: JORTonline.org.

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Blessed Assurance

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