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51 Arena Theatre’s 47th Season Set to Open June 14

Mon, 06/10/2024 - 03:18pm | By: Ivonne Kawas

51 Arena Theatre (SAT) is set to return for its 47th season at The University of 51 Mississippi (USM) with two performances, Pete the Cat and Fuddy Meers, opening on June 14 at the Hartwig Theatre on the Hattiesburg campus.

Kicking off with musical Pete the Cat, audiences will embark on a journey as they follow everybody's favorite guitar-playing cat as he takes his buddy Kimmie Biddle on a global adventure. With script and lyrics by Sarah Hammond and music by Will Aronson, based on the hit book series by Kimberly and James Dean.

Pete the Cat will be shown on June 14-15 at 7:30 p.m. and matinee performances on June 15 and 16 at 2 p.m.; recommended for all ages.


SAT continues with comedy by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, Fuddy Meers, whose main character, Claire, suffers from a rare form of amnesia. Each day, she wakes up with no recollection of her past. However, her routine is disrupted by a series of eccentric characters. As Claire navigates this surreal world, she uncovers fragments of her past life, leading to a journey of self-discovery filled with laughter, surprises, and poignant moments.

Fuddy Meers will be shown on June 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee performance on June 23 at 2 p.m.; recommended for ages 18 and older due to mature themes and occasional strong language.

Ticket prices for the shows are $12; faculty, staff, students, seniors and military are $8; and children $6.

Robin Aronson, professor of theatre and director of Pete the Cat, says this musical is bound to enchant audiences with its colorful storytelling, upbeat songs, and vibrant performances.

“Audiences will be highly entertained by this group of talented actors taking you through Pete’s adventures,” said Aronson. “Every aspect, from the cast to the colorful design elements and upbeat songs, contributes to the joyful experience of the show.”

Kevin Thiel, a 3rd year MFA in Performance candidate, expresses his excitement for being an actor in both shows, highlighting that being a part of summer theatre “has been a lot of fun” while providing hands-on acting experience. 

Pete the Cat is a musical for young audiences that is high energy and sure to entertain the entire family, while Fuddy Meers is a bizarre, intense, and disorienting comedy,” said Theil. “As an actor, it’s always fun to get to prepare for roles that are wildly different from each other, and these two roles are about as different as they can be.”

Matt Ralph, a 3rd year MFA in Directing candidate and director of Fuddy Meers, says this edgy comedy will allow audiences to experience all the emotions.

“This production is the story of a woman trying to regain her memories of a tragic past,” said Ralph. “The playwriter expertly balances humor with drama to create a world where reality and fiction keep audiences guessing. This edgy comedy is a rollercoaster journey sure to provide a carnival of emotions.”

Raven Harris, a 2nd year MFA in Costume Design candidate and costume and hair and makeup designer, shares her experience of bringing bright and exaggerated costume pieces to life for Fuddy Meers.

“The design timeline for SAT is fast-paced, but the process has been very educational in terms of being a flexible designer and contributing to a cohesive production as a team,” said Harris. “I’m excited for audiences to experience this show from Claire’s perspective as she attempts to make a clear picture of the warped, twisted world around her. Filled with bright and exaggerated costume pieces, I believe everyone will enjoy unraveling the mystery alongside Claire.”

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, and Bronze Sponsor Moore’s Bike Shop.

School of Performing and Visual Arts to purchase tickets.