William Carey University’s Carey Dinner Theatre was awarded the second annual Pine Belt Image Award during the Pine Belt chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi’s annual awards banquet at Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg on January 19.
The Image Award recognizes an organization or individual for an achievement in public relations which significantly improves the image of the Pine Belt on a regional or national scale, or which greatly increases the quality of life of a segment of the area’s residents or the region as a whole. The inaugural award recipient in 2014 was FestivalSouth, Mississippi’s only multi-week, multi-genre arts festival.
Carey Dinner Theatre was founded in 1975 when Obra Quave, then-chair of Carey’s Department of Theatre and Communication, and other faculty and staff members wanted to give their young performers a professional and educationally sound opportunity to express their talents in a unique format. There was also a desire to offer to the public quality entertainment that the whole family could enjoy.
A distinctive feature of the dinner theatre from the beginning has been that student company members serve tables during dinner. By the time the performance has started, each person in the audience has had some personal contact with at least one member of the dinner theatre’s company.
Selected from auditions held every spring, college students from across the country try out for performing, technical and clerical positions in the company. More than 50 schools have been represented by company members. Examples of schools represented include Vanderbilt, Julliard, Wake Forest and Duke.
The dinner theatre’s two productions are presented in June and July. For the 40th season in 2015, the company presented “Church Basement Ladies,” a musical comedy by Jim Stowell and Jessica Zuehlke with music and lyrics by Drew Jansen, and “Beehive,” a musical tribute to the popular female singers of the 1960s written by Larry Gallagher.
“Carey has a long history of excellence in theatre, including the widely acclaimed Carey Dinner Theatre,” said Dr. Tommy King, Carey president. “Outstanding faculty and wonderful students have made the theatre program a success.”