The following information was provided by the event organizers:
‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ will be EECT’s first all-theatrical performance at the new Performing Arts Center on Canal Road. The state-of-the-art, 710-seat theater also serves as the performance venue for Orange Beach High School, as part of a cooperative agreement between the Baldwin County Public School System and the City of Orange Beach.
Jacob Morris realized that theater directing was his true calling during his senior year of college. Morris is leading the Expect Excellence Community Theater presentation of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ in February next year.
“I’m very excited to be moving to the Performing Arts Center. It’s a lot more seats to fill, but it’s also a more traditional type of space for play. Millie is a high-energy, high-volume show. production, and I can’t think of a better way to open the PAC than with this piece,” Morris said.
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Morris described “Thoroughly Modern Millie” as a “coming of age story with a girl coming from a small southern town to the big city. The story follows how she deals with all the changes in her life and how she relates to all the different types of people and lifestyles along the way.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” has an added layer of difficulty, according to Morris, as it involves the entire cast of 25 learning to tap dance for different segments of the show. “They’ve all got their shoes on and started their tap lessons,” Morris said. “It’s going to be crazy, but fun,” he added, referencing some of the tricky dance numbers.
Morris had been involved in theater and the arts since college, but it wasn’t until he had the opportunity to do production work with the a cappella singing group Pentatonix in New York that he realized that his true passion lies in the arts.
He also directed EECT’s previous production of “The Addams Family – A New Musical”, which was presented in a dinner theater set up, at the Orange Beach Event Center.
During a normal workday, Morris is the manager and artistic director of Bay Area Performing Arts, a youth theater company in Daphne.
Morris has described his directing style as centered on realism. “I want the characters to be authentic and believable, because that’s when the audience gets the most out of what they’re watching. There’s a difference between stepping into a character and bringing the experiences you have as an actor to a character,” he said. As part of his directing process, Morris explained that he subscribed to Sanford Meisner’s acting philosophy that “your character should be rooted in your personal experience, but you add a layer of imagination to it to create a stronger character.
When running a community theatre, Morris said it’s very important to “create a very open, welcoming and fun environment where everyone feels they can participate”. It’s especially important to create a positive atmosphere with a theater troupe such as the EECT, Morris said, because there’s a wide range of acting experiences. There are people in this play “who have been on Broadway, and we have people where this is their very first show,” he added.
Morris thinks “Thoroughly Modern Millie” appeals to many different audiences. “There are amazing things and amazing moments that people will see in this play, and I really encourage everyone to come and see this show,” Morris said confidently.
“Thoroughly Modern Millie” will be presented from February 4 to 6 and from February 11 to 13. The Friday and Saturday shows are at 7 p.m. and the Sunday show is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and seats can be selected at the ticketing site at www.orangebeachal.gov/events/performing-arts. The Orange Beach Performing Arts Center is located at 23908 Canal Road, Orange Beach, Ala. 36561, on the east side of the high school.
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