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Spring Arts in the City


The Lion King and the Newcomb Pottery Collection

This month one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, Disney’s The Lion King, comes to the Mahalia Jackson Theater for an unusually long run (March 14-April 15).

I recently chatted with Pensacola native and LSU alum, Maurica Roland, who has been with the show for five and a half years as part of the ensemble and understudy for the parts of Nala, Sarabi and Shenzi.

Seeing The Lion King is a glorious experience. What’s it like for the performers?

After being in the show for so long, I can forget how amazing it is. But then I get backstage and hear the audience. I come down the aisles [during the opening number] and hear the applause. Also, I walk toward the theater and see kids coming to the show with their Simba plush toys, and they are so excited. Those are my reminders. It’s the people who really get you into what you’re doing and remind you of why you’re doing it.

How much advance notice do you get if you’re going on as Nala, Sarabi or Shenzi?

We’ll know in advance if they’ve got vacation or personal days. Otherwise, they’ll call about an hour before it’s time to go on, and we have to just shift gears and get there. I feel very blessed to have that responsibility…that they can call me and even trust me to go on when it’s an opening night.

Is it hard to get ready with just an hour’s notice?

Because I’ve done it for so long, it’s a bit easier to slip into the different roles. When they call me I practice that, see where I am vocally and get into whatever mindset I need to be in. As the adult Nala, I have to find the solution to the problem of my crumbling home. As I’m singing, I visualize things in my life that I’ve lost, or something I wish would be resurrected. For Sarabi, I think of my mother [a recently retired teacher], and how regal and gracious she always is. Shenzi is a little more suited to my own personality. I am quite silly. I love to laugh. It’s very fun, because she’s very out there.

For information, call (504)287-0351 or visit www.mahaliajacksontheater.com

Every other month Friends of the Cabildo offers its Hidden Treasures Tour, which highlights one part of the Cabildo’s collection. This month’s tour will focus on the Cabildo’s Newcomb Pottery collection featuring works from the Arts & Crafts Movement of the late 1800s.

The work created during the Arts & Crafts Movement stressed individual craftsmanship and natural motifs such as the flora and fauna of the region, simple and often linear design and preservation of the character of the materials used. New Orleans artists such as William Woodward—Tulane’s first art instructor—became an integral part of the movement during the 1884-1885 Cotton Centennial Exposition. Newcomb pottery is typified by its use of local imagery such as magnolias and cypress trees with Spanish moss.

Hidden Treasures Tours are particularly interesting because they offer a behind-the-scenes look at the Louisiana State Museum’s collection. They take place in the museum’s storage facility and are led by the Curator of Decorative Arts, Katie Hall. “It’s a long-awaited chance for people to see these pieces as they’ve been in storage since Hurricane Katrina,” explained Hall. “It also will provide art lovers with a sneak peek at the Cabildo’s fall exhibition, which will focus on the Newcomb pottery collection.”

For tour information, call (504)523-3939 or logon to www.friendsofthecabildo.org

(photo credit: Louisiana State Museum)

More Arts Around Town

This month the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Garden Study Club of New Orleans will hold their 24th annual Art in Bloom fundraiser from March 14 to 18. This year’s theme is New Orleans: Life in Color – which, according to event co-chair Jenny Charpentier, “celebrates our city, its colorful traditions and its many creative inspirations.”

Sponsored by Whitney Bank, the four-day event includes many highlights: the kick-off Patron and Preview Party at NOMA, local artists’ interpretations of NOMA artwork expressed through floral arrangements, a fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters, and lectures and demonstrations by Johnathan Andrew Sage, master floral designer, and Patrick Dunne, author of The Epicurean Collector and proprietor of Lucullus, a local culinary antique store.

“The support of visitors will go a long way to keeping New Orleans bright and colorful,” commented Gwathmey Gomila, an Art in Bloom co-chair. Proceeds benefit NOMA’s educational projects and exhibitions and the Garden Study Club’s community projects with Longue Vue Gardens and the Botanical Garden at City Park.

For more information visit www.noma.org or call (504) 658-4100