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Panola Playhouse finding ways to engage supporters

Similar to most other Panola County organizations, the long-standing North Mississippi performance art theatre, Panola Playhouse, has improvised and utilized social media as a tool for maintaining its presence, and to electronically engage with their community.

Around mid-April, the 120-seat Sardis theatre, which has hosted hundreds of live performances since its establishment in 1962, began what their social media has dubbed the Panola Playhouse Pandemic Fighter online series.

In the spirit of social-distancing, the Playhouse has begun introducing videos each Friday and Monday from actors and actresses that have worked with them throughout the years.

We are so excited to introduce this and get it started, giving us the opportunity to entertain, and giving you the opportunity to be entertained at a safe distance,” they announced in a post last month on their Facebook page.  Individuals chosen will perform a monologue, dance, or sing a song from one of the productions in which they had taken part.

One of these individuals was Senatobia performer Megan Van Velsor, who kicked off the weekly-Friday series with a song from the play Dogfight, which ran at Panola Playhouse in January of 2018.  “I didn’t get to see Dogfight and now this song is really making me wish I did,” commented one enthusiastic fan of the video series.

Also, in an effort to conjure up recollections of memorable past events at the unique theatre, while enduring the strains of social-distancing, there have been presentations of an interactive challenge, named What Show Wednesday, for which photos are presented to the online public – who in turn, are challenged to guess from which production the image was taken.

The photo challenge was kicked off by a picture from a production of the popular musical Les Miserables from 2013, which also stirred excitement from theatre’s online community, being steeped in nostalgia amplified by these trying times.

“The safety of our patrons, actors and volunteers are very important to our organization.  Panola Playhouse has taken every recommendation from federal, state, and local leaders to continue the ‘Safer-at-Home’ mandates,” shared Panola Playhouse Executive Director Janine Marshall, regarding ongoing precautions taken to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 virus.  “Our doors may be temporarily closed, but we still want you to experience the performing arts in exciting and engaging ways,” the recent newsletter continued.

The Executive director of the nonprofit organization also shared that, due to the uncertainty of when they’ll be able to begin the rehearsal process, they’ve decided to delay the summer show, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and anticipate that it will run July 17-26.

There was no report on the status of the classic courtroom drama production Twelve Angry Jurors, which still appears on the schedule for August 2020.

According to Marshall, the situation is continuing to be monitored for when they will be able to reopen, and updates should be expected.      

More information about the nonprofit organization can be located at their website, www.panolaplayhouse.com, or by calling 487-3975.