The Young Actors Theater in Tallahassee is embarking on a very different new type of stage production. his latest effort is a serious play based on a book by an author in Capital City. That author is Adrian Fogelin, who many recognize as one half of the Hot Tamale musical duo.
“I always think of these books that I write as children going out into the world. ‘Crossing the Jordan’ is that child of mine who has walked the furthest and knocked on most doors,” Fogelin said.
One of those doors happened to be the door to the Glenview Drive performance hall of the Young Actors Theater, where Lori Roberts is a board member.
“She put something on Facebook and said, ‘Anyone wanna do this on stage? We made a little script.’ And it jumped out at me as something young actors would want to do, ”said Roberts.
Veteran Young Actors player Mallory Giesl has been cast to play 12-year-old Katherine Margaret Bodine, better known as ‘Cass’. Her world in a small, working-class town decades ago is changed when an African-American family moves in next door. Cass’ dad does NOT approve.
“He’s a fanatic, basically. And it’s really different for Cass because she’s never really had black friends, and then she meets her neighbor Jemmie Lewis and she instantly becomes friends with her. it’s a secret friendship because her father doesn’t know about it. “
And even though the story takes place before Giesl was born, she believed the story resonates strongly today.
“The whole situation Cass has to go through with her father not realizing that just because someone has a different skin color doesn’t make them less human. And I think that’s relevant no matter what happens in it. the world because you should be nice to people, no matter what they look like or who they are. “
Giesl said it was also a very different kind of production for the Young Actors Theater. And herself.
“Every time we do a YAT show it’s often a musical. I did a direct piece with YAT. It’s different this time because we bring in people who aren’t YAT members and that’s is also a show that has never been done on stage before. Which makes it super exciting and scary because you are creating this whole new world. “
Some of those non-YATs will be author, Adrian Fogelin, Reverend Henry Steele, Riley House Director Emeritus Althemese Barnes and Bill Mattox of Village Square. They will hold a round table before the game this Saturday evening at 6.30 p.m. Lori Roberts, YAT board member, saw this as the start of a new era of young actor productions.
“We’ve been working with Riley House on this project and as soon as it’s finished we want to talk about other things. We want to work with the community as a whole and it has been such a wonderful experience working with Adrian on bringing his book on stage. It’s so exciting! And we have so much talent in Tallahassee; let’s use it!
The opening night of “Crossing Jordan” is this Thursday evening, August 26th at 7:30 pm. And the creator of the story, Adrian Fogelin, plans to be in the audience.
“I can’t wait to see how they do it and hope to bring three of my library kids with me to opening night.”
Until the pandemic struck, Fogelin also ran a small neighborhood library and community center in his parents’ former home in southwest Tallahassee. After the Thursday night opening, performances of “Crossing Jordan” will take place on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and a morning Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.