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'Quilters' explores frontier spirit, lessons in life

 

Mississippi University for Women’s Department of Music and Theatre will present “Quilters” Feb. 24-27 in Cromwell Theatre. Cast members are, kneeling, from left, Kelsey Sample, Katrina Dupont, Jessi Tidwell and Sherry Galbreath. Standing, from left, are Jenni Mitchell, Cherri Golden and Alyssa McElfresh.

Mississippi University for Women’s Department of Music and Theatre will present “Quilters” Feb. 24-27 in Cromwell Theatre. Cast members are, kneeling, from left, Kelsey Sample, Katrina Dupont, Jessi Tidwell and Sherry Galbreath. Standing, from left, are Jenni Mitchell, Cherri Golden and Alyssa McElfresh. Photo by: Chris Jenkins/MUW Public Affairs

 

Jan Swoope

 

A rich tapestry of joy, heartbreak, struggle and satisfaction will unfold at Cromwell Theatre on the campus of Mississippi University for Women Feb. 24-27 as the Department of Music and Theatre presents "Quilters." 

 

The production, directed by Visiting Instructor of Theatre Lee Crouse, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday. 

 

"Quilters," a winner of multiple Tony Awards, shares stories of the trials and triumphs of American pioneer women. Written by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, with lyrics and music by Damashek, it''s based on the book "Quilters: Women and Domestic Art" by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen. 

 

The blend of poignancy and humor found in "Quilters" emerges from the authors'' interviews with people in locales such as West Texas and New Mexico, researching family stories told through quilts. 

 

The play opens with "Sarah" and her six daughters, who start the audience on its journey through frontier life and the strong social structure that helped women survive. The lessons are relevant today. 

 

Alyssa McElfresh, a theater major from Senatobia, is part of the all-female cast.  

 

"It explores the hardships of being a teenager at that time, the hardships of becoming a woman, the hardships of having lots of children," said the senior. "But it''s about how they overcame them and found joy in them through family and friends." 

 

"Quilters" unfolds as a series of episodes, separate but intertwined, much like the blocks of a quilt. The vignettes are matched with songs that, Crouse said, may bring to mind similar music heard in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" The MUW production will feature musicians on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass and piano. 

 

"The play is not a musical, but more a play with music," explained the director. "It''s been a fun process for us, but a challenging one, too. The music itself has five- to seven-part harmony in almost every song. Doug Browning, choral director here and at First United Methodist Church, has been working with the cast, as has (MUW senior) Zane Lynn." 

 

General admission at the door is $10. Tickets for MUW students with ID are $5. Crouse described this production as "PG-13," due to some situations in the dialogue. Audience members are asked to please be in their seats before the play is scheduled to begin. 

 

The Cromwell Communication Building is located at the corner of 10th Street and Sixth Avenue South in Columbus. For more information, contact the Department of Music and Theatre at 662-329-7260.

 

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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