Mary Anne Brannon entertains theater patrons at a dinner performance of Moonshine and Magnolias last year. Brannon is expected to reprise her role as the show’s host when the Front Porch Players present the play this weekend at First Presbyterian Church of Jonesboro. (Special Photo)
JONESBORO — From the first time a train rolled through Jonesboro, to a present day school room, Clayton County’s history will come alive on the stage this weekend.
The Front Porch Players has assembled an ensemble cast of about 25 people to undertake their annual performance of Moonshine and Magnolias Friday through Sunday at First Presbyterian Church of Jonesboro, 1842 Lake Jodeco Road, in Jonesboro. The play is presented as dinner theater and tells the county’s history through vignettes.
“It starts in 1845 when the first train came to Jonesboro and then follows the county’s history through the Civil War, the post-war period, the 1890’s, the early 1900’s and ends in the present with a teacher talking to her students about what an amazing, storied place Clayton County is,” said producer Karen Ferrell-White.
The play continues to be a collaboration between The Front Porch Players and Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County Inc. The historic society commissioned playwright Kalani Fraser to write the play in 2011 as a way to keep the county’s history alive, and to draw tourists to the area.
Ferrell-White said the vignettes are based off stories residents told Fraser when she was writing the play. There are about 15 vignette in the play, she said.
“Several of those stories are from Jonesboro, but there’s also a story from Lovejoy and another community which I don’t believe exists in the county anymore, and Morrow and some of the other cities are mentioned,” said Ferrell-White.
But while the vignette-style of the play is one way Moonshine and Magnolias is different from other productions the Front Porch Players undertake, the dinner theater format is another departure from the norm for the group. the meals are being coordinated by Historical Jonesboro.
On Friday and Saturday, dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the curtain will rise on the show at 7:30 p.m. The Sunday performance will be a matinee. Lunch will be served at 1:30 p.m. and the show will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Historical Jonesboro 1st Vice-President Helen Adkins said “a traditional southern meal,” consisting of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls will be served before the shows. A desert option of banana pudding or peach cobbler will be available with coffee during intermission, she added.
The southern theme of the meal is meant to tie into the theme of the play, Adkins said.
“The dinner kind of adds a special touch that you wouldn’t get if you just saw the play by itself,” she said.
Individual tickets are $25 and anyone who wants to come as part of a group can get up to eight people at a table. The dinner aspect allows theater-goers to socialize and meet new people before the performances and during intermission, Adkins said.
“It’s meant to be a breaking of the bread, communal experience before the performance,” she said.
However, Adkins added that the tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be for sale at the door for logistical purposes.
“People have to order the tickets in advance because the dinners are ordered from a company, so we have to know beforehand how many people will be attending,” she said.
Friday’s performance is nearly sold out, said Adkins, but she added the Saturday and Sunday performances still have more space available for groups of friends who want to attend the play together.
Tickets can be reserved or obtained by calling 770-473-0197 or by visiting Stately Oaks Plantation, 100 Carriage Lane, in Jonesboro.