Theatre festival next weekend in Columbus

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

COLUMBUS – Performances, workshops and a keynote by a world-famous make-up artist and Mississippi native are the highlights of this year’s Mississippi Theatre Association Theatre Festival.
The four-day event is open to the general public and will feature performances by school theater groups and community theaters.
“The festival is all about trying to increase the awareness of theater arts in Mississippi,” said Stephen Cunetto, MTA executive director. “We try to not make it just a competition but an educational experience for people interested in theater.”
College workshops, design exhibits and audition registrations kick off the festival on Jan. 17.
Performances begin at 8:15 a.m. Friday with Starkville High School’s “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” “South Pacific,” presented by Union County Schools and “Seven Reversals,” presented by Corinth High School.
That night, Billy Brasfield – better known in the make-up world as Billy B – will deliver the keynote address.
Brasfield, an Aberdeen native, is a world renowned make-up artist for stars like Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez. He has returned to Aberdeen to restore old buildings and homes to their former glory, Cunetto said.
The festival hosted a playwriting competition a few months ago, and staged readings of the plays will take place on Saturday.
Performances on Saturday include “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” presented by Tupelo Community Theatre and “Dinner With Friends,” presented by Starkville Community Theatre.
After each of the performances, including youth and school performances, judges will present a quick assessment of the production to provide tips and pointers for the troupes.
“We have a couple of musicals, we have several dramas and period-type pieces and comedies,” Cunetto said. “There’s a little bit for everybody.”
For a complete schedule, visit

Dim the lights
What: 2013 Mississippi Theatre Association Theatre Festival and Convention

When: Jan. 17-20

Where: Mississippi University for Women

Cost: $5/block of shows, $15/day pass, $25/weekend pass

Info:, (662) 418-3870

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