“We all make choices, but in the end, our choices make us.” — Ken Levine
Choices. Decisions. Determinations. Call them what you will, they change us. It doesn’t matter if a choice before us is easy or hard, a minor or a major choice, we change. Some decisions change us imperceptibly; others leave a definite, lasting mark. Some are as simple as determining what to have for breakfast; others require sacrifice and soul searching. Life’s most difficult decisions often hinge on our perceptions, not of what is easy or hard, but of what is right or wrong. Unfortunately, the lines separating right and wrong are not always clearly defined; they may appear as shades of gray, rather than black and white.
The Off Broadway Players’ summer production of Walking Across Egypt takes on this axiom of life and brings it unabashedly to the live stage. When I first saw this heartwarming, humorous show at Abingdon’s Barter Theater, the State Theater of Virginia, I knew it was a story worth telling, a tale told in the lives and choices of some interesting and unique characters. I was intrigued by the decisions each character made. I laughed at one character’s antics and puzzled over another’s obsessions. I watched them work through their dilemmas, rejoiced in their victories, and witnessed the consequences of their poor decisions. Our theatre group produced this show nine years ago in another venue, but its touching story, interesting characters, humor, and charm make it worthy of being produced again, this time on the J.F. Hillyard Middle School stage.
What is the story of Walking Across Egypt? When the stage lights come up, the widow Mattie Rigsbee discovers a stray dog on her porch. She decides she’s too old to keep it and calls the dogcatcher to take it away. Unexpectedly, the dogcatcher opens her eyes to a world she never knew existed, one that includes car theft, prison breaks, and a juvenile delinquent. Steeped in her deep, abiding faith, Mattie determines to turn the delinquent’s life around, and she is confident her famous cornbread will help her to solve a myriad of problems, including his. As others waver or falter around her, Mattie alone demonstrates strength and hope by using her moral compass to guide her decisions. Her choices attract some and frustrate others, but she is determined not to compromise her values with anyone. The question is, will she be successful?
In the vein of “no good deed goes unpunished,” Mattie soon realizes her decision to help “one of the least of these” may land her in trouble herself. As we vicariously walk with Mattie through all that befalls her, we see that her choices will, indeed, change her and others, too. Based on the Clyde Edgerton novel, this funny, heartwarming play by Catherine Bush will restore your faith in mankind, while proving that you’re never too old to be needed, and you’re never too lost to be found.
Excited to bring this story once again to the stage, The Off Broadway Players invite you to help us tell this unforgettable tale filled with action, humor, and the pathos of difficult decision making. We have many opportunities for you to join us. If you’ve ever considered being in a play, you could audition for one of the eight roles. Unsure about acting? Then come sing with our church choir, which is an integral part of the play (previous experience in a church choir is helpful, but not necessary). We have plenty of opportunities backstage, also. If you like to build things or swing a paint brush, we have a place for you. Maybe you’re a good scavenger hunter; then come help us find the small items (properties) that actors must have on the set. If sewing or costume design is your hobby, we have a place for you. Another way to become part of the OBP family is to volunteer as an usher. You’ll see shows without paying the cost of a ticket and earn tickets for future shows, too.
Whatever your interest may be, whatever choice you make to be a part of the production, just come to J.F. Hillyard Middle School 4 pm on June 4, or 6:30 pm on June 5. Tell us what you think you’d like to do, and we’ll show you how you can help. Decide to be a part of a team staging this important story that touches lives and changes people. If you cannot attend on those dates, please let us know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional details about the auditions and the performance dates can be found at www.offbroadwayplayersva.org . We look forward to seeing you!