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Mardis Gras show features all-ages cast
Production this weekend at Playhouse
mardi gras
The "Mardi Gras Street Scenes" show returns to the Cumming Playhouse this weekend. - photo by For the FCN

If you’re going
What: "Mardi Gras Street Scenes"
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: The Cumming Playhouse, 101 School St.
Cost: $15
Online: playhousecumming.com

From the costumes to the masks, beads and parades, Linda Ledbetter loves nearly everything about Mardi Gras.

The local performer and director will bring back last year’s hit "Mardi Gras Street Scenes" show to the Cumming Playhouse later this week.

Ledbetter said it’s a chance to spread a little taste of the big event in her hometown.

“We don’t do anything in Forsyth County for Mardi Gras, and it’s a big event,” she said.

Some aspects of the family variety show in the inaugural performance will return this year, including jazz songs, swinging dance moves and beads galore.

“I think we did every Mardi Gras song there is last year,” she said. “So this year, we’re like what can we do?”

Ledbetter and her friends, who wrote the show, started researching some history and found an exciting historical tale in the Big Easy.

The two-act show features 19th century Baroness Micaela Rojas Pontalba, who returns to New Orleans from France as the play opens.

Betty Wallace, who performs in the seniors Dazzlin Dames group alongside Ledbetter, will play the part of the baroness. The show, she said, is a lot of fun.

Wallace described the back story: Trapped in a loveless marriage, the baroness escapes to her beloved hometown as the first act begins. The baron follows her there.

The two shoot each other, but only one survives.

The second act opens with a graveyard scene, highlighting the culture of a traditional New Orleans funeral.

Despite exploring some of the “darker aspects” of New Orleans, Ledbetter said the show stays with its celebratory theme and isn’t scary.

Wallace, a fan of the city, said the city's residents "don’t have morbid funerals. They jazz it up."

The mausoleum set currently resides in Ledbetter’s garage, where she’s been preparing the props for months to make them as authentic as possible.

As excited as she is about the Mardi Gras season, Ledbetter is equally, if not more, excited about the cast of more than 80 members plus a band.

Local performing groups include the Sophisticated Ladies, Danny Lee Pendley, the Christian Fine Arts Jazz Band and Performing Group of Forsyth, the Cumming Playhouse Ensemble Singers, the Dancing Divas and the Sassy Seniors of Forsyth County.

Several of the groups, like Ledbetter’s own Dazzlin Dames, feature senior performers.

“I’ve got a lot of dancers that are 80,” Ledbetter said. “They get out there and do these tap dances and they are so good. It’s amazing.”

The ages range all the way down to the group of teens from Christian Fine Arts of Forsyth who will provide the jazz band music this year.

Last year, the matinee performance sold out, and Ledbetter hopes for big crowds at all three of this year's performances.

“I want all my performers to have a full house to perform to,” Ledbetter said. “They’re really good performers and you do so much better when there’s a crowd.”