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Southern Arena Theatre Returns with Musical Performances

Wed, 05/31/2023 - 08:18am | By: Ivonne Kawas

Rainbow Fish musical poster

Southern Arena Theatre (SAT) is set to return for its 46th season at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) with two delightful musical performances in the month of June at the Hartwig Theatre on the Hattiesburg campus.

Kicking off with The Rainbow Fish Musical, script, music, and lyrics by Austin Zumbro and adapted from the book written and illustrated by Marcus Pfister, on June 15, 16 and 17 at 7:00 p.m. and a matinee performance on June 18; and continuing with The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 by John Bishop on June 22, 23, and 24 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on June 25 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices for the shows are $10; tickets for faculty, staff, students, seniors and military are $8; and for children $6. The Rainbow Fish Musical is appropriate for all ages and The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is recommended for ages 12 and up. 

The Rainbow Fish Musical is a production based on the classic children’s book that brings to life an undersea world of beautiful fish and other aquatic creatures as they learn important messages about friendship and belonging. 

According to the production’s director Robin Aronson, professor of theatre, this musical is bound to captivate audiences with its timeless message, vibrant characters, and enchanting design elements.

“Drawing inspiration from Marcus Pfister's award-winning book, the performance features vibrant characters that truly come to life on stage,” said Aronson. “Every aspect, from the talented cast to the captivating design elements, contributes to the immersive experience of the show. Additionally, the songs and choreography are irresistibly adorable, adding to the overall charm of the production.”

Abby Anderson, a candidate for an MFA in Theatre Performance, takes on the role of "Little Fish" in The Rainbow Fish Musical. She expresses her excitement by sharing that this beloved book was one of her childhood favorites.

“Being able to revisit one of my favorite books as a child, accompanied by enjoyable music and a super talented cast, is nothing short of a dream come true,” said Anderson. “This experience has allowed me to embrace my inner child, as I immerse myself once again in the joy and wonder of the tale.”

Murders of 1940 posterThe Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 is a hilarious romp that depicts the creative team of a Broadway play having to solve the mystery of the “Stage Door Slasher” as they pitch their new show to investors. 

Mia Taylor, director, and a candidate for the MFA in Directing­­, says this laughter-filled comedy will keep you guessing with all its plot twists.

“The audience will enjoy this fun, scandalous who-done-it with a group of theatre artists in the midst of making a new smash musical,” said Taylor. “Just when you think you have it all figured out and have unraveled the mystery, there's a new twist!” 

Delaney Bird, candidate for the MFA in Performance, takes on the role of “Elsa Von Grossenknueten,” in The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. She highlights the uniqueness of the production, particularly its set design.

 “Something very special about this show is the creativity and effort our team has put into designing the set,” said Bird. “We have a bunch of secret passageways built into the bookcases that add a special element to the mystery of the show -- it enables multiple storylines to unfold simultaneously! I'm excited to see the audience delve into both the secrets of the set and the characters.” 

Since its first season in 1977, SAT has been a Hub City summer theatre staple, as it is dedicated to entertaining the greater Hattiesburg community by featuring shows with a broad appeal.

Support for SAT comes in part by the College of Arts and Sciences, Partners for the Arts, local corporations, and from individual donors.

Visit to purchase tickets.