‘Lost and Found’ based on Prodigal Son parable

Published 6:00 am Saturday, December 4, 2004

“A long time ago … Like … tomorrow! Far, far away … Like… next door! Lived a father, a mother, a big and a littlebrother, and their charming and talented sister …”

Sounds like an ordinary family doesn’t it? Whether hundreds ofyears in the past or just yesterday in our hometown, family neverchanges. We have our problems, our joys, our break-ups, ourreunions, our sad and our happy times together no matter what themakeup of our particular family unit might be.

“Lost and Found,” Brookhaven Little Theatre’s first productionof the 2004-05 season, takes you into the heart of a warm andloving family. You will also see a part of its heart that is not sowarm and loving. You will experience through music and drama theParable of the Prodigal Son, only you might find that the Gospel ofLuke failed to mention a thing or two!

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The music will tug at your heartstrings and have you tappingyour foot, laughing as well as crying, and sometimes just wonderinghow the script writer peeked into your life and included a smallportion of it in this play! You’ve never heard this particularparable presented in quite this way.

As a musical, “Lost and Found” introduces several beautiful andpoignant songs that theatre-goers will be humming and singing tothemselves for days. They include “Family,” “Let Me Out of Here,””The Proper Attitude,” “Too Many Walls” and “Lost and Found.”

As a play, it takes a well-worn, much-told parable and pushesits message at the audience in a different, but most effective,way. The theatre-goer also gets a lesson in definitions, findingout that being the ‘prodigal’ doesn’t necessarily mean what we’vealways been taught it meant.

Directed by Jana Fulda Russell, “Lost and Found,” in word and insong, might possibly make even the doubter rethink his position onbelief and forgiveness, and love of God for His creation and manfor his family.

As the play opens we see Danika Boyd as Sharon, creating themood as the narrator and someone you definitely want to learn moreabout. Not the shy and retiring type, Sharon slips in a parable ortwo of her own as the play progresses. Boyd does an outstanding jobas singer, narrator, daughter, and sister.

The character of Mama could be no better portrayed than by BetsyDavis. As the talented mother of three boys, Davis has no need topractice her role. She lives it every day. Davis is funny butreserved, just like a mama should be, as she watches therelationship of her husband and sons fracture and fall apart,ending up as far away as a pig sty and as close to home as the nextroom!

Papa, played by James Minter, loves no one better than hischildren and wife, unless it is the God of Abraham who, Papafinally realizes, is not a distant God, but one who lives as closeas his very own heartbeat. We watch as he grieves as much for theson who stays home as he does for the one who has run away. In songand word, Minter brings Papa to life in a most revealing way.

As David, the elder brother and inheritor of two thirds of hisfather’s fortune, Benjamin Russell creates a very serious andoverly contentious son who lives and breathes the family estate. Itis his life and he anxiously awaits the day when he can claimownership. Russell portrays the hardworking yet resentful characterof David very convincingly, revealing the tension and hurt belowthe surface of his life.

Juda, the young and foolish second son, is played by StephenDavis. Davis’ ability to go from the obnoxious, demanding youngestson, leaving home to find a world where he can be free to do as hepleases, to the repentant, humbled child returning home in rags, isfirst rate, both musically and dramatically.

A BLT favorite returns in the dual role of bartender in both the”Distant Land,” an upscale, trendy bar, and “Hog Heaven,” a havenfor rough bikers who love their hogs. Cheryl Sproles carriesherself through the pivotal scenes of the production as aprofessional. Whether speaking or singing, Sproles never misses abeat as the pivotal bar scene unfolds. It is a pleasure to see herback on the BLT stage.

Nicole Machost is the sarcastic maid Ester, who is a strangegirl, indeed. Machost, as Ester, simply drips sarcasm as she issent to wait on the eldest, overworked son, and the young’princess’ who lives within the walls of the home.

Making a cameo appearance as Rudy Valley is BLT favorite CarrollRitchie. Ritchie adds his own bit of wit and charm to the barscene, singing those beautiful tenor notes as only he (or is thatRudy?) can.

And what would a musical be without the chorus. Some taking onmultiple roles, members of the chorus worked extremely well to tiethe many facets of the musical together seamlessly. As a group, theharmony was ‘music to my ears’, and their silliness in just theright places will cause laughter to bubble up even as the audiencewatches Juda fall into the ‘heaven’, of dealing with hogs!

Those who play Cowbelles, servants, floozies (yes, I said’floozies’), and bikers are Heather Thurgood, Daniel Davis, JakeGodard, Bradley Smith, Ashli Walker, Sarah Taylor, Jessica Falvey,Allison Smith, Andrew Bishop, Caleb Smith, and Chad Harveston.

Choreographer for the musical is Lori Phillips Walker, nostranger to BLT. Her talents, as you will see, extend even furtheras she sings and dances along with the chorus.

Doing a superb job as producer is Greg Russell.

In addition to his role in the chorus, Bradley Smith also doesan outstanding job as stage manager for the production.

Back once again, offering his excellent talents as LightingDesigner is Jimmy Dempsey. His crew includes Christina Machost andRebecca Machost.

Others who worked hard to make this a fantastic production areset designer John Landress, scenic artist and lobby displayRosalind Wilcox, lobby decorator Mimi Zeini, poster designer AsemZeini, and set construction crew Bradley Smith, Greg Russell, BenRussell, Homer Richardson, Johanna Russell, Betsy Davis, JohnLandress, Kevin Landress, and Heather Thurgood. Paint crew includedSamantha Southwell and Jessica Sprenkle.

The musical opens tonight at The Haven Theatre in downtownBrookhaven. Additional performances are Saturday; Sunday afternoon,December 5; Friday, December 11, with a final performance Saturday,December 12. All Friday and Saturday performances will beginpromptly at 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets maybe purchased at the door.

Everyone is encouraged to experience “Lost and Found.” When youdo, you are sure to “lose” the tension that affects all hardworkingpeople during this time of the year, and you just might “find” thatpart of yourself that needs to ‘come back home’ during this mostblessed of seasons.

You will be reminded yet again that Brookhaven/Lincoln Countyhas tremendously talented people who might live just next door oreven in the same house you do!

Come! Enjoy the fun.