Saturday, July 31, 2010

Production Note: William Brisky (Cast)

William Brisky (Henry Peabody) has worked at BFT as stage manager for Dead Man's Cell Phone and Almost, Maine, but this is his first time on the stage at BFT. His last time on stage was at the Levite Jewish Community Center as Stanton Case in Broken Glass. William has been involved in local theatre for around 10 years. He tells everyone that theatre keeps him sane, and that he has found his second home at BFT. William will be stage managing for Talking With..., the next play at BFT.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Production Note: Dane Albright (Cast)

Dane Albright (Lov Bensey) is excited to be cast in his first production at BFT. His other roles include Felix in The Odd Couple at South City Theatre, John in The Cocktail Hour at Montevallo, and Wardell in Sordid Lives at Terrific New Theatre, among others. He also co-starred as Witness #2 in the award-winning short film High Expectations.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Production Note: Sally Montgomery (Cast)

Sally Montgomery (Grandma Lester) is returning to BFT for a second time. She was last seen at BFT as Mrs. Whitefield, the innkeeper, in Tom Jones. She has performed at South City Theatre in Octette Bridge Club, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Christmas Belles, To Kill A Mockingbird, Steel Magnolias, and Arsenic and Old Lace. She has also appeared at Theatre Downtown in The Crucible and We Three Queens. She performed in Music Man at Leeds Arts Council and in Mornings at Seven at Arts Council Theater Academy (ACTA) in Trussville.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sarah Green to play preshow music

Check the Sarah Green band web site for samples!

Sarah Green is a talented singer, songwriter, and band-leader who grew up singing in church and with her family in Blountsville, Alabama. After relocating to Birmingham to study music theory, vocal performance, and opera at the University of Alabama, she soon became a regular on the nightclub and music hall circuit. Sarah commands attentive audiences with her dynamic voice.

Her performances are made up of a mix of traditional acoustic Appalachian songs, original folk-country compositions, and hard rockin' sets of electric American roots music. She also stays busy working with many of the region's other popular acts including Chris Porter and the Stolen Roses, The Back Row Baptists and her other project Sarah Green and the Sunday Lovers (Jazz).

With ongoing songwriting, the recording of her debut album, a new album with The Back Row Baptists (a second EP coming soon), and a busy local performance schedule, Sarah is in rare form to take her music to new heights . Watch for Sarah at area festivals, and the South's finest music spots for upcoming shows.

Check the band web site for more:

Production Note: Maggie Ballard (Cast)

Maggie Ballard (Ellie May Lester) is thrilled to be making her debut at BFT in Tobacco Road. She was last seen in The Bachelor as part of the Short Play Festival at South City Theatre. She was also in Tom Sawyer as Widow Douglas and Mattie in The Darkest Night at South City Theatre. Maggie also won Open Mic Night at the Stardome Comedy Club for stand-up comedy, and played Laurie in the feature film Lifted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Production Note: Michael T. Walters (Cast)

Michael T. Walters (Dude Lester) will have two shows at BFT under his belt come opening night. Michael has been looking forward to Tobacco Road since it was cast, and is pleased to be working along side Janelle again, and several actors he has seen but not shared the stage with. Michael was most recently seen in Anne Frank and Me at Children's Dance Foundation, and Shakespeare's R&J at Theatre Downtown. His favorite roles have been Jason from Rabbit Hole, Tom from The Glass Menagerie, and Romeo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Production Note: Pam Elder (Cast)

Pam Elder (Ada Lester) is pleased to return to the Birmingham Festival Theatre after her first performance there in 2001. At that time she had returned to the theater after untold years of raising children and working as a speech-language pathologist.

Pam has now performed in numerous Birmingham community theaters including the Jewish Community Center Theatre (Off Broadway), Terrific New Theatre (An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein, My Name Will Always Be Alice, The Dixie Swim Club), Birmingham Festival Theatre (Angels in America, Kindertransport) and the South City Theatre (Christmas Belles, On Golden Pond, The Octette Bridge Club, and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean).

Growing up in Dallas, Texas, Pam had the thrill of attending the first Teen Theater class at the celebrated Dallas Theater Center and later attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Production Note: John Falkenberry (Cast)

John Falkenberry (Jeeter Lester) is delighted to return to BFT for a 20th show. Among his favorite BFT roles are the title role in Jake's Women, Bobby Gould in Speed-the-Plow, Rev. Eddie in Some Things You Need to Know Before the World Ends: A Final Evening with the Illuminati, Samuel Byck in Assassins, Robert Strauss in Voice of Good Hope and Captain Taylor in BFT’s 1987 production of A Soldier’s Play, which started it all.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Note from the Director of Tobacco Road

Our country has a great legacy of Theatre and Literature.

When audiences and readers choose to apply contemporary morés and attitudes toward historical works, this legacy becomes threatened. The lessons of history become moot, and the windows of enlightenment and revelation begin to close.

Great writers’ works would have been greatly diminished had they given consideration to the sensibilities of future readers and audiences. The tragic characters of Eugene O’Neill and Thomas Wolfe did not have a cadre of electronic media pop psycho-analytics to advise them from a safe distance on how to behave. Mark Twain’s characters in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn engaged in emotional and psychological struggles not only of love and morality, but of historical injustice and amorality. Diversity Training classes were not an optional source of exoneration.

Tobacco Road’s tragicomic Jeeter Lester is begat from the futility of his time and circumstance. His refuge is a pitiable belief in a return to a system of attaining a value as a human being that has long disappeared. His behavior, both immoral and amoral, is a result of his own narrow window of enlightenment.

Here’s hoping that our own contemporary morés and attitudes may be enlightened by this thought provoking and engaging lesson of history presented in this entertaining form of theatre. I think our sensibilities are up to the challenge.

Janelle Cochrane, Director

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tobacco Road Cast and Crew

The Board of Directors at BFT is honored to have this group of fine folk working on Tobacco Road, our final show of the 2009-2010 season. Sincere thanks go to each and every one of them.

(in order of appearance)
Dude Lester Michael Walters
Ada Lester Pam Elder
Jeeter Lester John Falkenberry
Ellie May Lester Maggie Ballard
Grandma Lester Sally Montgomery
Lov Bensey Dane Albright
Henry Peabody William Brisky
Sister Bessie Rice Mel Christian
Pearl Sarah Brock
Captain Tim Bates Redwine
George Payne Jack Heidt
Stage Manager Sufia Butt
Assistant Stage Manager William Brisky
Set/Lighting Design/Construction Monty Bishop
Sound Design Justin Wallace
Light Operator Sufia Butt
Sound Operator Justin Wallace/Monty Bishop
Production Coordinator Leah McCraney

Watch for upcoming posts with information on these talented "arteests"!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Old time string bands provide preshow music for Tobacco Road

Arrive early to experience this nostalgic art form that comes straight out of the time in which the events of Tobacco Road unfold. The music will begin right around 7:15 and continue almost to curtain time (8:00).

Jubilee, from Starkville MS, will play for the July 22 opening night (picture, bio). Bands scheduled for other nights include HeyHowdies (Joyce and Jim Cauthen and Rachel Turner, part of Birmingham's Flying Jenny), Sara Green, and The Potted Meat Boys.

The Flying Jenny web site describes string band music as "lively fiddle tunes meant for dancing as well as old songs sung on front porches and in front of fireplaces when families and friends got together after the day’s work was done."

The bands consist mainly or solely of string instruments and were popular in the 1920s and 1930s. String band music is among the forerunners of modern country music and bluegrass.

See the Wikipedia listing for more on this distinctively American music.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tobacco Road Gallery Partner: Jennifer Harwell Art

Works from Jennifer Harwell Art will be on display in the Haden Gaines Marsh Gallery at BFT during the run of Tobacco Road: July 22-August 7, 2010.

To get an idea of what a treat this will be, visit the JHA web site and check out the gallery, artists, jewelry, and sports art. You can even become a fan of Jennifer Harwell Art on Facebook.

The gallery is located in downtown Birmingham at 1901 6th Avenue North, in Suite 197 of the Harbert Plaza. Drop in, and tell'em BFT sent you!

To reserve seats for Tobacco Road, please call BFT at (205) 933-BFT3 [2383].

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Season Auditions a Huge Success!

Dozens of local actors—some new to BFT, some new to Birmingham, and some familiar faces—were on hand June 26 and 27 to audition for the 2010-2011 season productions at Festival.

Season tickets go on sale July 22, so get ready for some great theatre featuring some truly amazing talent. The season is posted at our web site (

See you on Southside!