Peach State Summer Theatre provides many sights and sounds with this season’s three musicals. And the performances rank with any of the past 25 seasons of shows under the Valdosta State University umbrella of professional theatre.
A recent article featured Megan Wheeler, the former Valdosta resident who plays Mary Poppins, Peggy Sawyer and a member of a third show’s ensemble cast, but she is one member of a strong, talented and often brilliant cast performing in this year’s shows of “Mary Poppins,” “42nd Street,” and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”
Today, The Times looks at four of these performers, which includes familiar faces and new faces to the Sawyer Theatre stage.
• Renita James should be one of those familiar faces to regular PSST! and VSU Theatre & Dance audiences. This season, James plays the wickedly fun anti-Poppins nanny Miss Andrew, the wonderful stage veteran Maggie Jones in “42nd Street,” and is a standout member of the company in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”
In past PSST! productions, James performed in “Secret Garden,” “White Christmas,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “Ragtime.” She also attended VSU and appeared in VSU Theatre & Dance shows such as “Doubt” and “Almost, Maine.” She graduated from VSU in 2010. She also performed in a couple of Wild Adventures shows in the past.
More recently, James has performed in Atlanta-area productions such as “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Petite Rouge,” “Unnecessary Monsters.”
• Michael Hadary wears several hats in this season’s productions. He plays father George Banks in “Mary Poppins,” director Julian Marsh in “42nd Street,” and serves as vocal director for both of these shows. He is also one of this season’s performers appearing courtesy of the Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
Hadary is also VSU’s musical theatre professor.
He brings a wealth of talent to all of these roles and positions. A graduate of James Madison University and New York University, Hadary worked eight years in New York.
His past shows include “West Side Story,” “Into the Woods,” “Carnival,” “The Spitfire Grill,” “Songs for a New World,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “110 in the Shade,” “The Fantasticks.”
• Desiree Dillon makes her PSST! debut with versatile roles in all three 2014 musicals. Dillon plays the put-upon wife and mother Winifred Banks in “Mary Poppins,” the egotistical diva Dorothy Brock in “42nd Street,” and a company member in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” Not only are the personalities of her roles different but she adapts an almost unrecognizable distance between each of her characters.
A graduate of Oklahoma City University, Dillon is the 2010 winner of the Crescendo Music Awards, vocal division.
Her past credits include roles in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and “Lucky Stiff.” In the past two years, she headlined eight productions on Carnival Cruise Lines ships. She has also worked in an Xbox commercial and “One Life to Live.”
• Olin Davidson performs in two 2014 PSST! productions. He’s unforgettable as the charming Bert in “Mary Poppins” and Andy Lee in “42nd Street.” He is also an Actors’ Equity Association performer this season. This is Davidson’s PSST! debut.
A Shenandoah Conservatory graduate, with a degree in musical theatre and an opera performance certificate, Davidson has enjoyed a diverse career.
His credits include roles in “Hairspray,” Disney’s “Tarzan,” “Crazy for You,” “Oklahoma!” “Cats,” “Forever Plaid,” Disney’s “Aladdin,” “Hello, Dolly!” “The Producers,” “Millie,” “Oliver,” “Anything Goes,” “Pajama Game,” “Little Shop of Horrors.” Davidson has previously played Andy Lee in another production of “42nd Street.”
He has also “toured the world dancing for Celebrity Cruise Lines, been a backup dancer for Debbie Gibson and a backup vocalist for Barry Manilow,” according to his PSST! biography.
All PSST! shows play in rotating repertory through July 27, Sawyer Theatre, Valdosta State University Fine Arts Building, corner of Oak and Brookwood. Reservations, more information: Visit www.valdosta.edu/psst or call (229) 259-7770. The Valdosta Daily Times is PSST!’s corporate sponsor.