Pine Belt theatre joins forces with Hattiesburg High for Freedom Summer production

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A community theatre formed in 1985 continues to overcome adversity in order to put on productions.

Just Over the Rainbow Theatre (JORT), which has been without a permanent home since the expansion of the 3-D school in Petal, has joined forces with Hattiesburg High School Forensics for the group's final performance of the season, "Blessed Assurance."

"We're very grateful that Hattiesburg Public Schools has stepped forward and allowed us to share their space," said JORT's Michael Marks.

The play is the final part of the theatre's "Season of Courage" series. "Blessed Assurance" is set in Sunflower County, Miss. during Freedom Summer and portrays the courage the main character, Olivia, has when registering to vote as an African American in 1964.

"A lot of things happened right here in Hattiesburg in 1964," said director Dena Semmons. "History is important. You have to know your past, in order to understand your present, in order to go towards the future."

It is the hope of those involved with JORT that this production will not only shed light on an important part of history but also make possible a future for their community theatre.

"It's such a rich part of the fabric and the tapestry of the arts community in this city," said Marks. "As we go forward, I hope we'll be able to find a permanent home to continue that mission."

Performances will take place Tuesday, April 22 and Wednesday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at Hattiesburg High School's Playhouse Theatre. General admission is 12 dollars and six dollars for students with proper identification. Walk-ins are welcome although reservations are requested. To make a reservation, call 601-583-7778.

To make a donation toward a permanent home for JORT, visit their website:

Copyright 2014 WDAM. All rights reserved.