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Jefferson Performing Arts Society Announces Directors for 45th Season

The season features five female directors.

Jefferson Performing Arts Society Announces Directors for 45th Season

Jefferson Performing Arts Society proudly announces its 45th season mainstage directors, featuring directors based in New Orleans, New York, and San Antonio. Several directors are returning to JPAS after directing or performing with JPAS in recent seasons; two make their JPAS directorial debut this season. The following overview includes shows that are part of JPAS mainstage season subscription packages, currently on sale. Single ticket sales open June 6th for all 45th season shows. For a full schedule of the entire 2022-2023 season which includes season specials such as ballets, concerts, and other special performances in addition to those listed below, please visit www.jpas.org.

Mainstage Season Overview:

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

Jefferson Performing Arts Society's 45th season opens with feathers, tiaras, and boas at the JPAS Westwego based theater Teatro Wego on September 16th with Sweet Potato Queens, based on the wildly successful 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 stage manager. She recently directed Steel Magnolias at New Dawn Theater in Duluth, GA. Davis debuted her theater 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 be directing two shows for JPAS this season: Sweet Potato Queens and Sistas the Musical.

Sistas The Musical kicks off second half of the 45th season with nine performances over three weekends in Westwego from January 27 - February 12, 2023. The story follows five women as they come together to clean out their matriarch's home and discover fragments of their past. As they share stories and memories, they honor black women throughout history while performing top hits from the 1930s to the 1990s, from Billie Holiday to Beyonce.

JPAS' first mainstage show of the 45th season at Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie will be In The Heights, running from 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 Alegría Hudes. The story is set in the largely Dominican American neighborhood of Washington Heights in Upper Manhattan. This celebratory new musical combines Latin rhythms and dance with hip-hop lyrics to tell a captivating story about what it means to chase your dreams as you cling to your roots.

Michelle Pietri (Director/Choreographer of In The Heights) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from UNO and her Masters of Fine Arts from Tulane University. She has performed locally, nationally, and internationally and worked professionally as a director, choreographer, and costume designer. Her work has been seen throughout the United States, the Czech Republic, China, and Russia. In 2003, Michelle began working for the University of Texas at San Antonio Lyric Theatre program as a choreographer, costumer, 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 Theatre Company, Harlequin Dinner Theatre, SRO and Associates, and Fiesta Texas. Michelle has received numerous awards for her creative work and in 2013, she received an award for her contributions to San Antonio theatre. 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 bucket list of shows.

The final JPAS mainstage show of 2022 will be Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical, the 2016 Broadway musical based on the Paramount Pictures 1942 film of the same name, presented at Jefferson Performing Arts Center December 2-11, 2022. With a libretto 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 most recently directed The Addams Family with JPAS in 2021. She was 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 directing credits include This Property is Condemned at Le Petit Theatre for the Tennessee Williams Festival, Guys and Dolls at NOCCA, and The Rocky Horror Show at Tulane. As an actor, she has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, and on stages throughout New Orleans. She has appeared in film and TV including The Big Short, Green Book, NCIS: New Orleans, Beautiful Creatures, Common Law, American Horror Story, and the upcoming Secrets of Sulphur Springs on the Disney Channel.

Murder on the Orient Express is widely regarded as one of Agatha Christie's greatest literary achievements. This theatrical adaption by Tony-nominated playwright Ken Ludwig is a stylish, suspenseful murder mystery about an unlikely cast of potential suspects trapped aboard the luxurious Orient Express. The show was initially part of the 44th season but was delayed due to damages to its theaters by Hurricane Ida. This much anticipated, lavish production will be presented at Jefferson Performing Arts Center March 10-19, 2023, directed by Janet Shea.

Janet Shea first appeared on New Orleans stages in 1955 at Le Petit as a singing bluebird in The Birds. Past performances at JPAS 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. Most 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 Theatre Intensives.

Closing out the Westwego theater season for JPAS is Misery, directed by visiting artist Simone Daniel. Based on the novel of the same name by quintessential horror writer Stephen King, it will run for three weekends, from March 23-April 2, 2023, at Teatro Wego on Sala Avenue. The stage adaptation is by two-time Academy Award winner William Goldman, who penned the 1990 screen version of the 1987 novel.

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

The 45th mainstage season concludes at 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 the most powerful books of musical theater and perfectly matches its extraordinary score.

Carousel director and choreographer Donald Jones Jr. is a local New Orleanian, a graduate of Brother Martin High School and an alum of Northwestern State University in Natcitoches, LA where he received a B.S. in Theatre and Dance. He resided in NYC from 2013-2020 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 has trained with the New Orleans Ballet Academy, The New Orleans Ballet Theatre, The American Dance Festival, and Spectrum Dance Theater of Seattle. Donald has taught dance both 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 was a Cultural ambassador with DanceMotion USA where he performed 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 above mainstage shows, Jefferson Performing Arts Society will present two summer pops concerts, two ballets (The Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet), and an internationally touring performance art show, The Aluminum Show, at Jefferson Performing Arts Center as part of the 45th season. Information on these shows can be found at www.jpas.org. These shows are not part of the JPAS season subscription packages and will be offered individually for single ticket sales starting June 6.



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