Above: Longtime Theatre and Drama Director Alison Stafford works with a student cast member of “The Spitfire Grill.”
With the fall 2022 reorganization of the Fine and Performing Arts Department, Hinds Community College will produce a musical at Brooks Theatre for the first time in 12 years. The musical is “The Spitfire Grill.”
The Lendon Players drama department typically performs two shows a year, one in the fall semester and another in the spring, a drama and a comedy.
“This isn’t just the Lendon Players,” said Theatre and Drama Director Alison Stafford, co-director of the production along with Marc Rivet. “Every aspect of the department is contributing in some way, shape or form.”
Also heavily involved in the production are Choir Director Andrew Head and Voice Instructor Dr. Mandy Spivak.
Rivet, who serves as musical director, came on board at Hinds in fall 2022 as the Music Industry and Piano Instructor. His background is in musical theatre and opera.
“I’m in charge of all of the instrumentation, the sound and making decisions on how they should be singing, certain phrases,” Rivet said. “The way that the music is sung needs to be directly influenced by how the actors are feeling. Even though I’m mainly the music director, there’s still things that the acting plays a part in.”
Stafford said Rivet’s involvement is crucial to being able to produce a musical. “I myself don’t possess enough knowledge to be able to pull this off by myself,” she said. “We decided that we wanted to start doing musicals again because we had people like Marc.”
Musicals are “more expensive to mount than a regular straight play. And with the singing is a lot more complicated,” she said. “You have to know in advance that you’ve got the right people with the right vocal quality, the right vocal ranges to be able to pull off those parts.”
But, Rivet said, students get much more from the musical production experience. “There are a lot of more moving parts when it comes to a musical. So that gives the kids a lot more experience with different things that they might not have thought about or be a part of,” he said.