Revival of a tradition: the Mississippi Medicine Show

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(Natchez, MS) Once again the imaginary showboat is docking at the Natchez Little Theatre for a reprise of a long-ago tradition- The Mississippi Medicine Show. It started as an idea and became a part of the city, performed during Fall Pilgrimage for many years. And then it just got more popular. Burnley Cook of Natchez is the Creative Director of the show. “It traveled as far away as San Antonio TX, it performed on the Delta Queen steamboat. It performed at the Worlds Fair in New Orleans. And it continued pretty much unbroken until about 2002.”

Changing lifestyles, changing ideas of content and the Natchez Balloon Festival happing in the middle of the run dwindled interest in the show until they just stopped producing it. And like Al Capone’s Vault, it lay forgotten until now. But unlike Al Capone’s vault, there’s something in this. Burnley Cook, the piano man, and director of the revised Mississippi Medicine Show says they are taking this version back to the blueprints. It is very close to the original show.

Burnley says, “This is the first year of the reincarnation- trying to take it back as close to the original as possible. We’re getting very close. This is kissin’ cousins to it. It was a lot of good singing. It was songs basically dealing with the South. You had a little bit of comedy. It was all cornball. It was not sophisticated comedy at all. Cheap laughs so to speak. Just a fun hour and 15 minutes, hour and 20 minutes.”

Joseph Simmons is the youngest cast member. He’s so young he’s never heard of the show. And has the honor of opening the show. And his only fear about the play is fear itself. “I really hope none of us gets scared.”

Ya know, Vicksburg has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records with their 80-plus year run of Gold in the Hills and it’s plenty hokey and melodramatic. So Natchez, hoke it up and have some fun and see where this version of the Mississippi Medicine Show takes you.

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