'Stella!' contest is a chance to ham it up for Bay St. Louis Little Theatre


Bay St. Louis Little Theatre's Stella, Blues and BBQ will offer food, music and the opportunity to do a little over-the-top dramatic acting on Saturday.

Each year, the little theater pays tribute to Columbus (Miss.)-native Tennessee Williams, the playwright renowned for such classics as "The Glass Menagerie" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and the theatre will present a production of his "The Rose Tattoo," opening April 1, but Saturday's celebration is one of audience participation.

The event falls on Williams' birthday, March 26, 1911.

Celebrating Williams' works is a natural fit for the Theatre, since the building was the site of filming for the Hollywood version of his one-act play "This Property Is Condemned."

The building's balcony also makes a fitting backdrop for the eighth annual Stella yelling contest, which invites anyone to act out the scene made famous by Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" by doing their best "Stella!" shout.

Yelling starts at 4 p.m. Entry of $10 is open until the competition ends. The show is judged by BSLLT board members and local celebrities, and the first place prize is $150.

Originality is an important part of vying to be the best, according to John Anderson, vice president of the BSLLT board of directors.

"It's creativity, volume, enthusiasm. A lot of people can step up and do one big 'Stella' shout, but there are others who have a whole routine ­-- they rip their shirt and get on their knees and cry, begging. The more emotion the better," he said.

More than a competition, it's about having fun and being creative. Anderson said there have been women who yell for Stanley and children who want to get a bit of the limelight.

"One fella had a T-shirt, but he didn't shout, he turned to the audience and ripped his shirt open and he had stick-on letters on his chest that spelled "Stella!" stuck across his chest. One woman did a whole love poem, about a six- or eight-line couplet, and then shouted," he said.

This year, organizers have scaled back some of the vendors and moved some events inside in order to give a greater focus on the theater. Barbecue will be offered by Phil Williams and for dessert there will be popsicles by The Pop Masters.

Inside, the theater will be transformed into a juke joint complete with a bar and dance floor. Live music will start at 5:30 p.m. with Phil "Smooth" Williams and the Electric Sheep, followed by Heather and the Monkey King.

The event begins at 3 at 398 Blaize Ave. Admission is free.

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