Jefferson Performing Arts Society Announces 45th Season Trustees

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The Jefferson Performing Arts Society is proud to announce the directors for its 45th season, with directors based in New Orleans, New York and San Antonio. Several directors return to JPAS after directing or starring with JPAS in recent seasons; two are making their directorial debuts at JPAS this season. The following overview includes the shows that are part of the JPAS Main Season subscription packages, currently on sale. Single ticket sales open June 6 for all shows in the 45th season. For a complete schedule of the entire 2022-2023 season that includes season specials such as ballets, concerts, and other special performances in addition to those listed below, please visit www.jpas.org .

Mainstage Season Preview:

Sweet Potato Queens directed by Kiane D. Davis, September 16-October 2, 2022, Teatro Wego

In the Heights directed by Michelle Pietri, October 7-16, 2022, Jefferson Performing Arts Center

Holiday Inn directed by Leslie Castay, December 2-11, 2022, Jefferson Performing Arts Center

Sistas the Musical directed by Kiane D. Davis, January 27-February 12, 2023, Teatro Wego

Murder on the Orient Express directed by Janet Shea, March 10-19, 2023, Jefferson Performing Arts Center

Misery directed by Simone Daniel, March 23-April 2, 2023, Teatro Wego

Carousel directed by Donald Jones Jr., April 21-30, 2023, Jefferson Performing Arts Center

45 from the Jefferson Performing Arts Societye the season opens with feathers, tiaras and boas at the Teatro Wego theater based in JPAS Westwego on September 16 with Sweet Potato Queens, based on the bestselling 1980s Sweet Potato Queens books by Mississippi writer Jill Conner Browne.

Sweet Potato Queens will be directed by New Orleans native Kiane D. Davis. Davis is a producer, director, singer, actor, dancer and manager. She recently directed Steel Magnolias at the New Dawn Theater in Duluth, GA. Davis began her theatrical career with JPAS as Jewel in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. She was stage manager for the 2021 JPAS production of The Addams Family and performed the role of Dragon in the 2022 JPAS production of Shrek the Musical.

Davis will lead two shows for JPAS this season: Sweet Potato Queens and Sistas the Musical.

Sistas The Musical kicks off the second half of 45e season with nine performances over three weekends at Westwego from January 27 to February 12, 2023. The story follows five women as they come together to clean up their matriarch’s house and uncover fragments of their past. Sharing stories and memories, they pay homage to black women throughout history while performing top hits from the 1930s to the 1990s, from Billie Holiday to Beyonce.

JPAS’s first main show of 45e The season at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie will be In The Heights, October 7-16, 2022. In the Heights is a Tony Award-winning musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) and a book by Quiara Alegria Hudes. The story is set in the predominantly Dominican American neighborhood of Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan. This festive new musical combines Latin rhythms and dance with hip-hop lyrics to tell a gripping story about what it means to pursue your dreams while clinging to your roots.

Michelle Pietri (director/choreographer of In The Heights) received her BFA from UNO and her MFA from Tulane University. She has performed locally, nationally and internationally and has worked professionally as a director, choreographer and costume designer. His work has been seen in the United States, the Czech Republic, China and Russia. In 2003, Michelle began working for the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Lyric Theater Program as a choreographer, costume designer, and director. In San Antonio, Michelle has worked as a guest artist for Incarnate Word University, Trinity University, St. Philips College, Northwest Vista College, The Woodlawn Theatre, The Playhouse San Antonio, The Sheldon Vexler Theatre, Allegro Theater Company, Harlequin Dinner Theater, SRO and associates, and Fiesta Texas. Michelle has received numerous awards for her creative work and in 2013 she received an award for her contribution to San Antonio theater. Michelle is excited to return to New Orleans and JPAS where her professional work began. Michelle’s Spanish heritage is a driving force for In the Heights being on her list of shows.

JPAS’ final mainline show of 2022 will be Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical, the 2016 Broadway musical based on the 1942 Paramount Pictures film of the same name, playing at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center from December 2-11, 2022. Featuring a book by Gordon Greenberg and Chad Hodge and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, this evergreen musical features thrilling dance numbers and a parade of hit songs, including “Blue Skies”, “Easter Parade”, “Steppin’ Out With My Baby”, “Heat Wave” and “White Christmas”.

Holiday Inn will be directed by Leslie Castay, who recently directed The Addams Family with JPAS in 2021. She served as director and co-creator of Southern Rep’s original holiday musical, Mandatory Merriment, for the past three seasons. She won the Big Easy award for best director of a musical with co-director Brandt Blocker for the New Orleans premiere of The Musical of Musicals at the late great Le Chat Noir. Other productions include This Property is Condemned at the Petit Theater for the Tennessee Williams Festival, Guys and Dolls at NOCCA and The Rocky Horror Show at Tulane. As an actress, she has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, on national tours and on stages in New Orleans. She has appeared in movies and on TV including The Big Short, Green Book, NCIS: New Orleans, Beautiful Creatures, Common Law, American Horror Story and the upcoming Secrets of Sulfur Springs on Disney Channel.

The Murder on the Orient Express is widely regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s greatest literary achievements. This theatrical adaptation from Tony Award-nominated playwright Ken Ludwig is a stylish, suspenseful murder mystery about an unlikely cast of would-be suspects trapped aboard the luxurious Orient Express. The show was originally one of 44e season but was delayed due to damage to its theaters from Hurricane Ida. This lavish and highly anticipated production will be presented at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center from March 10-19, 2023, under the direction of Janet Shea.

Janet Shea first appeared on New Orleans stages in 1955 at Le Petit as the singing bluebird in The Birds. Past JPAS performances include: Grandma Addams in The Addams Family, Abby Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace, Mrs. Schubert in Shear Madness, Ann Landers in The Lady With All The Answers, Frau Schultz in Cabaret (twice), Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast (twice), Widow Carney in Oliver!, and others. More recently Ms. Shea directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (2021) and Deathtrap (2022) for JPAS. Additional directorial work for JPAS includes Amadeus, A Christmas Story, Miracle On 34th Street, A Christmas Carol, as well as Newsies, Legally Blonde and Hairspray for JPAS Youth Musical Theater Intensives.

Closing the Westwego theatrical season for JPAS is Misery, directed by guest artist Simone Daniel. Based on the novel of the same name by quintessential horror writer Stephen King, it will take place over three weekends, from March 23 to April 2, 2023, at Teatro Wego on Sala Avenue. The stage adaptation is directed by two-time Oscar winner William Goldman, who wrote the 1990 screen version of the 1987 novel.

Misery director Simone Daniel is a Brooklyn, NY-based director, screenwriter and costume designer who works professionally in film and television. An enthusiastic follower of ensemble work, Simone has supported and nurtured the life of several young companies such as The Scranton Shakespeare Festival, The New Vintage Ensemble, Scranton Fringe Festival and more. She developed two shows which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and many other works which toured nationally at Fringe Festivals across America. Her passion is live theater, but also works frequently in different mediums, with a particular focus on audio dramas. This is her first time working with the Jefferson Performing Arts Society.

The 45e the main stage season wraps up at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in April with Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel, a poignant story of Julie and her carnival barker husband Billy. This timeless tale of hope, redemption and the miracle of love is one of musical theater’s most powerful books and a perfect match for its extraordinary score.

Carousel director and choreographer Donald Jones Jr. is a New Orleans resident, graduate of Brother Martin High School and an alumnus of Northwestern State University in Natcitoches, LA, where he earned a BS in theater and dance. He resided in New York from 2013 to 2020 where he performed on Broadway in productions of Frozen (OBC), Aladdin (OBC) and Chicago The Musical. His Off-Broadway credits include: Sweet Charity with The New Group and West Side Story with Carnegie Hall. He was also a member of The Color Purple National Tour from 2010-2012. He trained at the New Orleans Ballet Academy, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, American Dance Festival and Spectrum Dance Theater in Seattle. Donald has taught dance nationally and internationally at Broadway Dance Center of New York, Steps on Broadway, Broadway Classroom, Studio West Dance Center of Colorado, New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and has served as a Cultural Ambassador with DanceMotion USA where he played and taught. contemporary American dance in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Jones has directed/choreographed productions of Dreamgirls at Mill Mountain Theatre, Children’s Letters to God with NORD and God of Carnage with JPAS.

In addition to the main shows above, the Jefferson Performing Arts Society will present two summer pop concerts, two ballets (The Nutcracker and Romeo and Juliet) and an internationally touring performance art exhibit, The Aluminum Show, at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center as part of the 45e season. Information about these broadcasts is available at www.jpas.org. These shows are not part of the JPAS season subscription packages and will be offered individually for single ticket sales beginning June 6.

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