UAPB theatre kicks off fifth season with free performance

For the past four years, under the direction of Cheryl Collins, the John McLinn Ross Players at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff have brought to the Pine Bluff community many excellent and entertaining productions.

The 2012-2013 Freedom Season of theatre promises several wonderful productions of favorite musical stories as well as a special performance from the director of theatre herself.

The season will kick off with a free special encore performance of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hathaway-Howard Fine Arts Auditorium. Arriving at a boarding house with his young daughter in 1911, one broken man finds freedom from his past in this moving historical drama by prolific African American playwright, August Wilson.

The season continues Nov. 15-18 with the Broadway musical “Once on This Island”. The book & lyrics are by Lynn Ahrens with music by Stephen Flaherty, but the play is based on the 1985 novel, “My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl” by Rosa Guy.

On Feb. 14-17, 2013, theatre patrons can try to catch the fun, frolicking and free Gingerbread Man in the classic kid’s tale, “The Gingerbread Man Book”, with a few new musical twists from David Wood.

Collins believes that “with freedom comes responsibility. We artists must be conscious of our journey and be responsible for telling our own story.” On Dec. 5, she will perform her one-woman show about the life and achievements of African American aviation pioneer, Bessie Coleman, along with BAD (Black And Defiant), an uplifting solo show by Stephan Collins-Stepney, which will benefit the JMRP on their way to the 77th National Association of Dramatic & Speech Arts conference and competition in Baltimore in April 2013.

Closing the Freedom Season is a satire by Karani Marcia Leslie, “The Trial Of One Short-sighted Black Woman Versus Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae”, which runs April 18-21, 2013. “The Trial” is about a corporate climber who aims to free herself from two of the most notorious black stereotypes by having her day in court.

Season subscriptions are available for the two musicals, one comedy and two special performance events. The John McLinn Ross Players are committed to excellence in performance and competition and they are gearing up for their best season yet.

Show dates and Times:

• “Once on This Island” — 7:30 p.m. Nov 15-17, 3 p.m. Nov 17-18

“The Gingerbread Man Book” — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14-15, 3 p.m. Feb. 16-17

“The Trial Of One Short-sighted Black Woman Versus Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae” — 7:30 p.m. April 18-20, 3 p.m. April 20-21

“An Evening with Cheryl Collins” featuring special guest, Stephan Collins-Stepney — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets are $20 and are not part of season subscriptions.

Season subscription prices:

Golden Lion Subscription $25 (one ticket per production)

Coalition Subscription $50 (two tickets per production)

Lion’s Pride Subscription $100 (four tickets per production)

For more information call Alexis Skinner at 870-575-8428 or e-mail