Curtain Up: Picayune On Stage has a home

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2016

joyful celebration: Gladys Hughes cut the ribbon during Thursday’s grand opening.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

joyful celebration: Gladys Hughes cut the ribbon during Thursday’s grand opening.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

For the past 36 years, the Picayune On Stage theater group has met in a variety of locations.
Thursday, the group officially opened their permanent location, the Picayune On Stage Gladys Hughes Rehearsal Studio: Dedicated to the children of the Greater Picayune Area.
The search for permanency began about a year ago, Picayune on Stage president Bonnie Hughes said.
“We called on friends and family to support our dream of having a home where we could work, rehearse and develop our children’s theater program once again,” Bonnie Hughes said.
Bonnie Hughes said group members looked at numerous buildings in the area and realized that their old warehouse, which they already owned, could be renovated. This option, she said, was the only realistic chance they had of achieving their dream.
Next, group members raised funds through a GoFundMe account, in-kind donations and additional performances of their plays, Bonnie Hughes said.
Last October, they applied for a grant from the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation. In January, the foundation awarded the group $30,000.
The contractor started renovating the warehouse on February 15. Three months later, the rehearsal studio was complete.
The Pearl River County Master Gardeners will complete landscaping in the fall, Bonnie Hughes added.
Gladys Hughes, 92, is the oldest member of the group and has acted in or directed more than 75 productions. The studio was named in her honor. That fact remained a surprise until the day before the grand opening.
“The hardest thing was to keep my mother away from the building during the last few days so that I could finish the sign that now hangs outside on that old tin building,” Bonnie Hughes said. “She was beginning to feel like she was not needed, which we all know is not true. It has been an exciting few months and I had to put my principal hat on again to create schedules, plan activities and motivate people to get the work done. What a feeling to see our dream become a reality. Thanks to everyone who helped us with this project. We look forward to entertaining you in the future through our plays and musicals.”
When Gladys Hughes first heard the news about the studio’s namesake, she said it was the biggest surprise she has ever had.
“It’s fun to see a building named after me,” she said. “It’s the children’s studio. We need younger people to keep our group growing. I love to do kids theater. I’ve seen many of them grow up and continue to perform.”
The rehearsal studio is located at 208 Virginia St. Picayune On Stage meets the second Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, contact Bonnie or Gladys Hughes at 601-799-1714.
Follow the group on Facebook at Picayune On Stage Theater Group for performance and audition information.

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