The Williams Baptist University Theatre will begin the journey circling the globe on Oct. 29-30 with a production of Laura Eason’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, according to Melinda Williams, director of the production.
The production happens to correspond to the year the university turns 80. “I had a colleague ask me if I picked the play because of the birthday celebration of the university,” Williams said. “I wish I had thought of it, but I just picked the play because it was fun.”
The plot tells the story of Phileas Fog, a fantastically wealthy, majestically mysterious, and dedicated man of scientific reason, who has deduced that a mere 80 days is enough to circumnavigate the globe, staking his entire fortune on it. He and his loyal valet, Passepartout, face bandits, a herd of buffalo, an act of chivalry, and a meddlesome inspector from Scotland Yard trying to prevent him from finishing his journey.
This adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days features a cast of 8 actors performing over 125 roles. “Playing multiple parts has its own unique features,” Williams explained. “In rehearsal, we work on accents and establishing different characteristics so each character is unique.”
This production will include some new faces on stage. “I like to use some students new to the theatre program. It keeps them involved and then audiences get to see someone new,” Williams explained. But, new faces sometimes mean new challenges. “We have students who are involved in multiple activities like athletics, Cast, Singers… it sometimes proves to be difficult just to set aside rehearsal time.”
The cast will include Joe Hutchison of Evening Shade; Bekah Gunter of Huttig; Hunter Spence of Marion; Grant Goad of Jonesboro; Anna Ring of Paragould, Kade Carter of Bono, MeKency Shepard of Little Rock, Alex Osborne of Jonesboro, and Sade Orija of London, England.
Another new aspect to the play is technology. “We are going to try something new with the background. If it works, it will be great. If it doesn’t, we won’t try it again,” Williams said.
The production will begin the festivities for homecoming week. Curtain time for the show is 7 pm each evening in Startup Chapel on the WBU campus. Admission for the production is $3 for students and senior citizens and $5 for general admission.