Jubilee Theatre, in partnership with Performing Arts Fort Worth, will present the musical Southern Boys: Sons of Sharecroppers at Bass Hall from July 29-August 15, marking the first live, in-person performances at the city's premier performance venue since the beginning of the pandemic.
This is also the first time Jubilee has put on a production at Bass Hall, although it might not be the last, according to Jason Wise, vice president of programming & engagement management for Performing Arts Fort Worth.
"Our hope is that this collaboration extends beyond this production, and we look forward to the ongoing conversations with Jubilee Theatre as we plan for future seasons," Wise says. "Jubilee Theatre also plans to continue to produce and present productions in its own theater space."
Jubilee, with its longtime theater at 506 Main St. in Sundance Square, is not considered a resident company of Bass Hall, as are The Cliburn, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Opera, and Texas Ballet Theater.
The acclaimed production Southern Boys, written by Kathy D. Harrison and nominated for Best Musical at the 2020 New York Theatre Festival, brings to life the beginning of America's historic post-slavery era through the eyes of emancipated slaves and their free children, with all its jubilant excitement as well as its debilitating realities.
Those freed are making their transition from slavery to freedom, ready to fulfill their new dreams and "make something of themselves." Their first opportunities come — ironically — as sharecroppers on the very plantation where they were enslaved. The brutal and demeaning conditions of sharecropping takes its toll on their aspirations to realize real freedom. Is going from slavery to sharecropping like going from the frying pan into the fire?
The 17-year-old Johnny, though, dares to keep on dreaming. He hears the loud horn of a train approaching near the fields — heading north. Will he catch that train and jump on into a new, unknown world? If so, who, if anyone, will follow?
Preview week for Southern Boys runs from July 29-August 5, with opening night set for August 6. Following the end of the live run, Jubilee will stream the show on their website, August 16-29.
"Jubilee Theatre is elated to have the opportunity to perform our work on the Bass Hall stage," says Christie M. Howard, Jubilee Theatre's managing director, in a statement. "Sharing a story about perceived victory, surprising challenges, and unyielding perseverance is more than timely as these are the themes that are resonant in the very spirit of Fort Worth's rich performing arts community."
Jubilee Theatre has remained busy during the pandemic, releasing multiple virtual productions, including the current Berta, Berta, which is available through June 27. Southern Boys: Sons of Sharecroppers will be the final production of Jubilee Theatre's 40th season; they will announce the lineup for their 41st season, set to begin in September, in the near future.
Tickets, which range from $54-$64, are now on sale at both basshall.com or jubileetheatre.org. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place at Bass Hall, including the requirement of masks/face coverings.