Brewton talent shines in 'Oklahoma'
The role of criminal defendant is not a new one for Everette Price – in the courtroom or on the stage. The longtime Brewton criminal defense attorney is also a defense attorney - a rather famous one known as Atticus Finch – on stage in Monroeville's perennial production of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
This summer, his role changed. After "Mockingbird's" spring run, he took on the unfamiliar role of criminal. Cast as the villain in the Greater Escambia Council of the Arts' (GECA's) summer production of Rogers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma" in Atmore this past weekend, Price played Jud, the sinister hired hand on the Oklahoma farm on which the play is set.
He had plenty of company from Brewton.
Jennifer Couch was cast in the role of Laurey Williams, the female lead. Couch is a recent graduate of Troy State, where she majored in drama, and has done roles varying from Grace in GECA's production of "Annie," to the lead in a Jeff Davis production of "Mame" while a student there. A Brewton resident and Z-Tel employee, Couch's vocal range is phenomenal.
District-attorney-elect Steve Billy was almost typecast in the role of federal marshall. Price joked with fellow cast members before Sunday's matinee performance that they had been kind to put up with himself and Billy "since we can't dance." But dance they did, also lending strong voices to the production.
Billy's sons, Stephen and Joseph, are likely the real reason their father participated in the play. The Boys, as they are known in their family, are all about the arts and love the theater. Long before they got a chance to perform on stage, they were staging neighborhood productions in the Billy living room. They have performed in the JDCC productions of "The Secret Garden" and "Music Man." Last summer, they did GECA's production of "Fiddler on the Roof," and this year they were understudies in "To Kill A Mockingbird," one brother cast as Jem Finch, the other as Dill. Never one to miss the fun, younger sister Laurel was part of the Oklahoma chorus, as was Brandon Patterson.
Joel Brister, pastor of the First Baptist Church of East Brewton, made his stage debut as Will Parker, one of the leading male roles. A long-time church musician, Brister is now known to his co-stars as "the dancing preacher," a fact he's been teased about in a lighthearted sort of way, he said. Brister was awesome, and members of the audience would never have known this was his first show if the liner notes hadn't disclosed the fact.
Brister said he'd always been interested in doing theater but had never had the chance before Couch, who's a member of his church, convinced him to audition this summer.
GECA president and "Oklahoma" director and lead Phil Johnson is an Atmore resident who spends most of his time in Brewton as the director of the Community Character Project. He has been the driving force for GECA and has directed and starred in many of its productions. He has four productions planned for 2004-05, including "Hello Dolly," next summer.
It's amazing to see people whom you know in everyday roles come together on stage as other people entirely. From "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" to "Surrey With the Fringe On Top" and "People Will Say We're in Love," the cast was delightful in "Oklahoma." If you missed it, you missed a treat!
reached by e-mail at michele.gerlach@