Director Hannah Davis and music director Cassie Hickman return to the South Arkansas Arts Center’s stage following teaming up on “Annie” to direct the upcoming Youth Theatre production of “James and The Giant Peach JR”. Joining them on the production team this time are two young actors, Hannah Hickman and Clay Evers, who will share the assistant director job.

Hannah Davis is no stranger to theatre and the SAAC stage happens to be her favorite, as she teaches the kids’ drama classes there. She has a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Louisiana Tech University. Some of her favorite past credits include: director of SAAC’s “Annie KIDS”; the character Rhonda and the hair, wig and makeup designer for SAAC’s “Singin’ In The Rain”; Grempkin in SAAC’s “Peter and the Starcatcher”; Madame Spanella in SAAC’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; and director of SAAC’s “Disney’s Aristocats KIDS”. When not at SAAC she can be found teaching eighth grade English at Barton Junior High or at home hanging out with her two dogs and two cats.

Cassie Hickman has shared her musical talents with kids at SAAC in 10 productions over the last 5 years. Hickman’s first show on the SAAC stage was a homeschool production of “Alice in Wonderland” in 2015. Since then, she has been the music director for four additional homeschool shows, as well as for two Penguin Projects, a Youth Theatre project, and a Teen Drama production. Some of her favorite shows have been “Annie, KIDS”, “Into The Woods”, “Godspell”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, and “Music Man.” Hickman had experience in theatre in high school and college, and she has led the musical part of worship services at church. Her daughter Hannah’s interest in drama is what brought Hickman back to the theatre. “I love to see the kids ‘get’ the music and be able to give it back to the audience so they ‘get it’, too.”

The youth theatre performances can fuel a desire to learn more about the whole theatrical experience. Having graduated from the youth theatre program last year, ninth-grade students Hannah Hickman and Clayton Evers found they couldn’t stay away. So they will be working side by side as assistant directors to practice the more technical side of theatre.

Clayton Evers, a freshman student at Parkers Chapel High school, is more than excited for the upcoming show, “James and the Giant Peach JR”. He has spent the past three years doing theatre and has made memory after memory at the South Arkansas Arts Center, taking part in roles like Rooster, from “Annie KIDS”; Ugly in “Honk JR”; and Edgar in “Aristocats KIDS”. “I’m always on the stage performing, but I never really look into what the production crew members do,” said Clay. “Now I want to understand that side so I can respect their positions and hard work more”.

Hannah Hickman is a 9th grade homeschool student and the daughter of music director Cassie Hickman. She has loved theatre her whole life and is thrilled to learn more about the workings behind the scenes of the stage. With 17 plays to her credit, she considers playing Grace Farrell in “Annie, KIDS”, Mrs. Corry in “Mary Poppins”, and Emily Webb in “Our Town” among her favorite roles. Hannah worked as stage manager for the Penguin Project production of “Seussical, Kids”, so this will be her second experience backstage. “I’m looking forward to working with the kids, both those returning and all the new faces that will be joining us,” said Hannah.

For more information about “James and the Giant Peach JR’, sponsored by El Dorado Kiwanis Club, please call the SAAC office at 870-862-5474