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Picayune On Stage is preparing stage, cast for first show

Gladys Hughes and Lynn Lawhon sat talking and smiling as they looked around their new facility Tuesday while waiting on a plumber.

Picayune On Stage, after three years of silence, is returning to the stage, albeit a much smaller stage, in January at the amateur thespians’ new digs on West Canal Street.

The new stage is 15 feet wide by 16 feet deep and the theater will seat on 40 people, Hughes said. Their old stage at the Friendship Park building that was torn down by the City of Picayune three years ago was 40 feet wide by 20 feet deep and the theater would hold 101 people.

Hughes and her troupe are happy, though.

“The main thing is we wanted to keep our group together with a place to meet and a place to rehearse and place to put on plays,” Hughes said.

“Every time we overcome an obstacle, I get excited,” Lawhon said, and the men and women who make up Picayune On Stage have overcome a lot of obstacles in the three years they have managed to hang together without a home.

They still have many obstacles to overcome, Hughes said.

“This is experimental. There are a lot of kinks to work out. … For example, we’re going to have to go an extra weekend to make up for the number of seats we don’t have,” Hughes said.

One bright spot that has kept them going in the three years since they had a home is the number of people that still approach her or other members wanting to know when they are going to have their next play, when are they going to send out their membership notices, when can they buy tickets. Those questions keep her and other members of the core group smiling, she said.

POS knows the plays it is going to put on over the next year in their “mini theater,” as Hughes as dubbed their new facilities.

The first play is “The Cemetery Club” by Ivan Menchell. It will run Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12-14, 19-21 and 26-27, Lawhon said.

In April, the group is planning “The Great Ice Cream Caper,” followed by “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” for their summer children’s program. Their final show for the 2007 season will be “Lie, Cheat and Genuflect” in October.

“We thought we would do a year of light shows for the first year and people like comedies. We have gone through a year of depression,” Hughes said.

Another factor figuring into their play selection has been the number of people they could have on stage at one time in their small playhouse.

“We have to have small casts or shows where there aren’t many people on stage at the same time,” she said.

Lawhon said the theater group soon will be sending out a mailing to former members and other ticket holders for whom they have addresses to let them know what is going on and when they could start buying tickets.

“First we have to have a phone, though,” Hughes said.