To say that the talented folks at Center Stage Theater in Biloxi enjoy offering groundbreaking theater to the Coast goes without saying, but now they are doing so as facilitators as well as performers.
When Gulfport native and film and television actor Jordan Salloum ambled into Center Stage and told David Delk and Chuck White about a play he fervently wished to produce on the Gulf Coast stage, they helped him make it happen.
So on Friday the show, “The Mother------ with a Hat” will open at the Center Stage theater giving the Coast an opportunity to enjoy a dark comedy that took Broadway by storm in 2011.
“Hat” written by playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis was once described as “a high octane verbal cage match about love, fidelity and misplaced haberdashery.” “Hat” received six Tony nominations when it opened on Broadway six years ago, and won the 2011 Lunt-Fontanne Award for Ensemble Excellence, despite the disadvantage of no one knowing the play’s real name because no media outlet could use it.
To say the show over utilizes explicit language also goes without saying, so viewer discretion is advised. But “Hat” is about far, far more than salty language.
The plot concerns a man named Jackie, played by Salloum, just out prison, back on the sauce, seeking work and trying to turn his life around, who discovers the infidelity of his long-time girlfriend, Veronica (played by Shona Gastian of New Orleans), another Brooklyn low-life addict. He believes the infidelity was consummated by the “guy” with a hat downstairs. Other New Orleans cast members include Frank Acieno, Carolyn Baggerly and Jason Edwards, all of whom, like Salloum, are TV and film actors performing in their first theatrical production.
“The question here,” Salloum related recently, “is whether Jackie can overcome his self-destructiveness and rage to truly love and forgive Veronica.” But all the characters are well-developed, Salloum declares, each with “his or her own arc” that reveals different challenges to rising above individual hells of their own making. It is a very human story, augmented with superlative writing, says Salloum, that worried him for two years as he sought a way to bring this story to the Gulf Coast stage. Center Stage gave him that opportunity.
Salloum’s acting resume includes 30 movie and TV roles, including working in Spike Lee’s quirky 2013 film, “Ole Boy,” starring, Josh Brolin, playing in the 2015 film, “Impact Earth,” featuring Tom Berenger, recently filming an episode of CBS’ military-themed show “Valor” airing in October, and performing in numerous films and TV shows shot in New Orleans, Atlanta and in Mississippi.
He and his fellow cast members say they are excited about breaking into theater, and especially, Salloum said, “because acting is acting but I love great storytelling. And (playwright) Stephen Guirgis has written an outstanding play with a lot of humor, yet when it gets dark it does so like a sledgehammer hitting home. I just hope we can do this magnificent play justice.”
The safe bet here is that they will, and audiences will appreciate this effort by film actors to bring a riveting story to the Gulf Coast stage.
The show runs 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Center Stage, 2670 Rue Palafox, Biloxi.
The Mother------ with a Hat
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Center Stage, 2670 Rue Palafox, Biloxi.
Center Stage at 228-388-6258.