Showboat Crew Puts on Telethon by Remodeling the Abandoned Paper Company

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The Rotary Club Showboat chorus traditionally ends with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, with the audience, standing, saluting, and clapping loudly to show its appreciation.

By Sue Moore

Performers in the 62nd Showboat claim they’ve found a new use for the old Simpson Paper Mill in Vicksburg. As owners of the Vicksburg Broadcasting Service (VBC) they intend to turn the mill into WVIX television station at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday, February 27, 28 and March 1 at the Performing Arts Center on W Avenue in Vicksburg. Tickets at $10 each will be available at Hill’s Pharmacy in Vicksburg on February 9.

The crew estimates the cost to be $300,000 to build the studio and broadcast their special news reports and commercial messages from the old mill. They need the cash before they can turn it into the greatest sound stage ever found in Vicksburg. How they raise the money culminates in a surprise ending, according to the Ken Franklin, the show’s director.

The cast soloists will perform during the telethon that seeks to bring in donations from the community. The chorus of the Showboat has the unenviable task of selling snake oil and other commodities usually found on middle of the night broadcasts from QVC, Franklin notes. “This show is one of the funniest in a long line of really great Showboats, so the audience should be hurting with laughter as the final curtain rolls down.”

Chris Garrett, the show’s musical director, has the chorus in fine voice, Franklin points out. This is Garrett’s eleventh year as music director. He says the chorus just gets better every year. “If you love the old songs, we even have some new ones to go along with the tried and true that the audience will enjoy.” Simply Men, the select high school chorus will be back to perform for the fourth year under the direction of Dusty Morris.

The Vicksburg Rotary Club annually puts the Showboat musical together to raise funds for its many charitable contributions in the Vicksburg community. This includes the Crop Walk, Youth football, South County Community Services, Generous Hands, and AED defibrillators for the elementary schools.

For the second year in a row, the club is partnering with Vicksburg Boy Scout Troop 251 to provide a delicious spaghetti dinner, with meat donated by Green’s Beefalo Farm, and lots of treats to accompany the main course for theatergoers. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and they will be serving until 7 p.m. when the curtain goes up. Patrons do not need to go to both, but a combination ticket with a $3 discount is being offered at $15 for the dinner and performance. Walk-ins the night of the dinner will be welcome at the high school cafeteria on Highway Street. A Silent Auction will be ongoing before each show, with the Boy Scouts and Rotary sponsoring it.

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