by Vicky Morrison - Danville Register and Bee
The fifth season of The Prizery of South Boston’s Summer Theatre will present two blockbuster hits: “Hairspray” and “Les Miserables.”
Prizery artistic director Christopher Jones is the director and set and light designer for this season. Jones said that more than 800 kids auditioned in Mobile, Alabama, to be a part of the Summer Theatre program. An audition was held for the South Boston to find local talent, too.
Sixty participants are involved in both productions. Thirty of them are from South Boston, Danville and Clarksville. Others came from many states, including Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut and New York.
Jones and musical director April Hill chose the actors. Multiple young professionals from colleges were hired to contribute their theatre skills to the productions. Colleges represented include East Carolina University, Longwood College, University of Kentucky, Moorehead State University, Averett University, Radford University, Belmont, Berry College and Elon University.
Approximately a dozen local families host the college students. Many of the students are hired as painters, lighting crew, costumers or singers and dancers. “One of the things that I’m most excited about,” Jones explained, “is seeing young children have the opportunity to be mentored by young professionals.” Jones identifies the program as a positive educational arts experience for all skill levels from novice to standing at the cusp of entering the competitive commercial arts world.
When entering The Prizery, the building still has the look and feel of an aging tobacco warehouse with some of the crop's history — and the role it played in Halifax County — lining the walls with pictures, dates and information.
However, by just turning one corner of the hallway, guests are taken somewhere else entirely.
"You walk around the corner and you say 'Oh my gosh' and there is the theater space," said Chris Jones, The Prizery's artistic director. "People aren't expecting to see that. That is the wow factor."
The 250-seat Chastain Theatre is just part of the 38,000-square-foot building that is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places as part of the South Boston Historic Tobacco Warehouse District. The Prizery, which once served as a tobacco warehouse, is now a lively center for the arts attracting thousands of visitors from outside the area each year.
It is believed that the building was constructed in the late 1800s by RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and it was of similar structure that it is today. The basement was used for manufacturing the 1,000 pound tobacco barrels where the tobacco was "prized" — pressed layer by layer into the hogshead barrels. The first floor was used for storage and the second floor was for pickups and drop offs and the top floor was for drying the tobacco.
We are hoping to house approximately 20 theatre performers and technicians during summer theatre in multiple locations. Housing will be needed during the weeks June 2 though July 21.
Summer theatre housing in the past has included the following types of housing: cabins, spare quest bedroom, rental house, garage apartment.
No cooking, laundry or transportation is expected to be provided by those offering housing. Kitchen privileges are helpful. Let us know if you are able to help.
Winston Harrell: firstname.lastname@example.org or call The Prizery at 434-572-8339 if you have questions.
Young people interested in auditioning for "Oliver" should be between the ages of 8 and 18. There are also roles for high school age students in "Legally Blonde". Adult roles are available for both shows, "Oliver" and "Legally Blonde"