By Sue Moore
After 65 successful years of presenting Showboat as a fundraising musical romp to the delight of local audiences, changes were needed, according to the show’s chairman Mike Tichvon.
A new format has been developed that plays to today’s audience of young and old alike, Tichvon said. The script promises a trip to the moon in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 NASA expedition. How the cast gets there will be the intriguing part of what is still a musical celebration of local talent. Performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. March 1 and 2 and at 2 p.m. March 3 at the Vicksburg Performing Arts Center, Tichvon said.
A significant change to the show’s foundation is an increase in featured acts and a requirement for all acts to audition in front of a five-person panel, said Syd Bastos, director of the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center. The acts guarantee a new level of entertainment for audiences, she said. With performances ranging from pop, old rock, classical, soul and even barbershop, there is something for everyone.
Some of the featured acts include Dusty Morris singing “Fly me to the Moon”, The Maxson Duet’s “Bring it Home to Me”, Bob Donelson’s “Your Song”, Kathy Forsythe’s “You’re No Good”, Caleb Dziepak’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and John Carpenter playing “Star Wars Fantasy” on the Steinway piano. Bastos said you can follow the Vicksburg Rotary Showcase on Facebook to learn more about these acts.
The stage crew has constructed its version of the moonshot rocket to be launched from the PAC stage. They had a little help from the electronic wizards that populate the Rotary Club’s back of the house construction gang.
The Rotary Club of Vicksburg has been able to raise over $641,500 to put back into the community since the inception of the Showboat that began as a minstrel show in 1953. It wasn’t real professional back then, but it was a lot of fun and attracted standing room only audiences. At one point the fire marshal had to close the doors of the old gymnasium because it had reached capacity. The show moved to the new Performing Arts Center at the high school in 1994. It took on a new dimension of production and presentation according to Larry Forsyth, this year’s show director. He has been a part of the show in one capacity or another for at least 50 years. His wife, the former Tina Schneider, was brought to the first performance in ‘53 in a baby basket as her father Arle, was one of the early performers and script writers.
The evolving show has included singers from the high school Simply Men chorus. The Showcase chorus is an all-male singing group that began rehearsals the first Sunday in January. They will be performing “Come Fly Away with Me” this year.
For the last four years, Boy Scouts from Troop 251 have offered a spaghetti dinner on the Friday and Saturday nights of the show in the high school cafeteria. They have enlarged the offering to a brunch for the Sunday matinee that has been well received. Tickets for the meals may be purchased from any Boy Scout and at the door which opens at 5 p.m. before the evening shows and at noon for the matinee.
Tickets are on sale at the Church Insurance Agency at 125 East Prairie Street from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and online at https://tix5.centerstageticketing.com/sites/vicksburg/. They will also be available at the box office the night and afternoon of each performance.