JCJC employees ‘play’ around for Laurel Little Theater

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-02-20 16:35:07

ELLISVILLE – In their professional roles, three Jones County Junior College employees take their jobs seriously. In the Laurel Little Theater’s play by Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, Amanda Gwin, Paula Pierce and Rick Youngblood have major roles but feel comfortable ‘playing’ around. Gwin is the manager of student accounts at JCJC and the director of the play. Pierce is an art instructor whose character is Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive Southern belle from Laurel, Mississippi. Youngblood, the JCJC VP of Business Affairs has the starring male role as Stanley, the dominant brother-in-law of DuBois.
“This is by far my favorite role,” said Youngblood. “Stanley is a high-octane role, and he keeps everyone on the edge of their seat when he's on stage. He is unpredictable. Come to the show. You will not be disappointed. I promise it will have an impact on each audience member.”
Youngblood has ‘played’ in several productions at LLT, including Biloxi Blues and Trip to Bountiful. He also performed in Just Over the Rainbow’s Importance of Being Earnest and JCJC’s Beauty and the Beast.
“Tennessee Williams was a brilliant writer, and ‘Streetcar’ is no exception; it may be his most famous. Certainly it holds popularity in the Jones County area since ‘Streetcar’ is a story about a fading Southern belle from Laurel,” said Youngblood.
Pierce is no stranger to the stage either. She has performed in the show The Women and Sideshow, as well as a couple of plays as a JCJC student. However, this is her first lead role, which is a little more demanding.
“Although ‘Streetcar’ is packed with dysfunctional drama, the play has provided a nice diversion for me; a break from the normal every day stresses.” said Pierce. “The character Blanche is complex and tragic and as a result of searching for all that emotion to play her, I found a true sympathy for her.”
Gwin has more than caught the ‘theater bug’. The JCJC graduate’s involvement with Laurel Little Theatre spans more than ten years and includes serving as President for the 2009/10 season and serving on the board of directors under costumes and membership. She has performed in numerous plays including 42nd Street, Steel Magnolias, Peter Pan and The Women.  JCJC’s theater department utilized her talents as assistant producer for a couple of productions, and she has since directed LLT’s, A Secret Garden and another Williams’ classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  
“I chose this show because I have always liked Tennessee Williams and his stories,” said Gwin. “His plays always include family units and complicated and strained family dynamics. I really thought this would be a great play to bring to Laurel because it mentions Laurel and surrounding areas. There is also a book being published soon regarding who the real Blanche DuBois was and I thought the book and the play could tie together nicely for Laurel events.”
For those who are familiar with the play, Gwin said she has condensed the show to two acts. 
“My biggest concern going into the play was that it is three acts long and there are 11 scene changes,” Gwin explained. “I knew my challenge would be to make sure that the performance wasn't three hours long and to quickly change scenes.  To reduce time with scene changes we are only dimming the lights and the characters will set the stage in character.”
The three JCJC employees say ‘Streetcar’ is shaping up to be a fantastic show. The Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway show opens Thursday, February 23, through Sunday, February 26. Call 601-428-0140 for more information.


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