Friday, April 13, 2007

Madame Director

At long last, New Stage Theatre has named Francine Thomas as its new artistic director. Bravo!

I first saw Thomas, who has worked as a professional actress and director for more than 18 years, in a production of The Glass Menagerie. She was heartbreaking as Laura. More recent work includes roles in Noises Off and The Skin of our Teeth at New Stage, in addition to a slew of recent directing projects. (I thought she did a great job working with what she had - me- when she directed I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change this past fall. Bless her.) Thomas served as the President of the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education from 1995 to 1997. She was the Drama Director at Jackson Preparatory School from 1996-2005 and was awarded the Best Director Award at the North Mississippi High School Drama Festival in 1998 and 2000. For a while there, she also ran her own casting company, Connections, in the Jackson area, serving as the locations casting director on several films shot in Mississippi.

At any rate, she is more than qualified in addition to knowing the Jackson market extremely well. I look forward to seeing what she'll do, now that she is at the helm of the only Equity theatre in Mississippi.

Most immediately, the next production at New Stage is Moonlight and Magnolias, a behind-the-scenes comedy about the making of Gone with the Wind. The show runs April 17-29, and tickets may be had by calling the box office at 601-948-3531. Sounds like a good time to me!

Swinging for the fences

Last night, I went to Trustmark Park in Pearl to watch the Mississippi Braves take on the Carolina Mudcats. What fun! The Braves lost (boo. hiss.), but we still had a great time.

If you haven't been to Trustmark Park, I highly recommend going. It's still a pretty new facility, with bathrooms and food vendors galore. It's sized to the market here in Jackson, so you can fill it up without it becoming too crowded. There are two team merchandise shops, a sit-down restaurant, and ample parking at the facility. We loved it.

It had been so long since I'd been to a baseball game; I'd forgotten how much fun it could be. We heckled the opposing team, munched Cracker Jacks, and sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at the top of our lungs. It didn't hurt that the weather was absolutely GORGEOUS, and that we ran into some old friends in the stands. (Now, if only the Braves had WON . . . . ) It was a great night!

Oh I also recently saw Click, starring Adam Sandler. It's a great premise. Michael Newman (Sandler), and overworked architect married to the impossibly beautiful Donna (Kate Beckinsale), heads out to Bed, Bath, and Beyond late one night to pick up a universal remote. He meets the mysterious Morty (Christopher Walken). In a play on words stolen straight from Jay London of "Last Comic Standing 2," Morty takes Michael to the "Beyond" and "Way Beyond" departments of the store, handing him a free, non-returnable universal remote.

Upon returning home, Michael learns that the remote controls alot more than just the television. Pretty soon, he's muting his dog, fast-forwarding through fights with his wife, and skipping pesky illnesses. The problem? The remote begins to learn his preferences, and it starts executing these types of commands on its own based on what he's done before. Pretty soon, Micheal finds himself being fast-forwarded through life, missing all kinds of important moments that he never intended to skip.

I thought this was a very original plot, with fun little joke gems throughout. The movie drags on at the end a bit, laboriously playing out the consequences of Michael's actions before finally allowing him to redeem himself. Other than that brief mire, though, it's good entertainment. Mostly PG, with no nudity and minimal language, this would make a decent film for the entire family. It's no unexpected art-house treasure, but one gets tired of chatty 20-somethings and ambiguous endings at some point, right?