Department of Theatre kicks off season with ‘Violet’


The University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of Theatre began the 2015-2016 with the musical “Violet” by Doris Betts.

“Violet” is based on Betts’ short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim.”

After being badly scarred in an accident as a child, Violet, the protagonist, sets out from her home in North Carolina to be healed by a televangelist in Oklahoma. As she travels on a Greyhound bus, she finds some emotional healing that is far more valuable than the physical transformation that

she hoped for. “It’s almost a pilgrimage she goes on to get healed in Tulsa,” said Devi Reisenfeld, who plays the protagonist. “She goes on this spiritual journey to find love and acceptance, and I think she ends up getting healed in a different way than what she expected when she first set out.

Chosen as winner of the 2014 Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, “Violet” showcases a variety of music from the 1960s South, including bluegrass and gospel. The musical features works by Jeanine Tesori and libretto by Brian Crawley.

Musicals tend to be overwhelming amid all the singing, dancing and music, but USM’s Department of Theatre did an incredible job with allowing the music to simply enhance the show rather than control it.

As an audience member, I was able to grasp the concept of the play and enjoy the music at the same time.

The music was phenomenal. The director did a great job achieving the overall goal of the musical. The production definitely showcased the actors’ musical talent.

Robin Carr, associate professor of voice and acting, is the director of “Violet.” This is the second musical she has directed at USM this year. “‘Violet’ is a perfect fit for the (USM) audience,” Carr said. “Set in the South, it has universal themes, gospel based-music and a very talented cast that brings these colorful characters to life. I believe this production will strike a melodious chord in all of us that will resonate even after leaving the theatre.” I applaud the theatre department for their decision of executing this particular production this year, being it has such a close connection with our generation. We live in a world in which people constantly obsess over their personal image.

From magazines to social media, people compare themselves to the celebrity figures they perceive as perfect.

“Violet” sends the message that people do not have to live bound by their psychological scars. I truly recommend the heart-wrenching production.

All performances are held in Tatum Theatre on Southern Miss’ Hattiesburg campus. On Oct. 8, 9 and 10, the performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. A matinee performance is set for Oct. 11 at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 1-800-844-TICK.