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‘Voices of Louisiana’ gets two thumbs up

By Colette Lottinger -   Feb 01, 2007

Photo: By Colette Lottinger
Photo: By Colette Lottinger

A lesson in Louisiana history was taught with vigor and relish at Destrehan Plantation’s Mule Barn.

Voices of Louisiana was performed by seven members of the Evacuation Theater Troupe - each of whom have been greatly affected by Hurricane Katrina and mainly hail from St. Bernard Parish.

The diverse group potrayed characters throughout Louisiana’s history. Barry Lemoine who has been called the “Bard of St. Bernard” wrote the educational and entertaining script.

The sold-out audience was taken on a historical and hysterical look at the history, humor and hardships of Louisiana.

The play is divided into three shows.

The first part is a comedic romp through the pages of local history that lead up to the Louisiana Purchase.

The second part zeroes in on some of the famous people with Louisiana roots and their contributions - including bits with Ellen Degeneres, Stanley Kowalski, Truman Capote, Huey Long, Richard Simmons, Britney Spears, Anne Rice and Emeril Lagasse.

Through monologues and vignettes, the show switches gear and focuses on the recent hardships of New Orleans, putting faces to the tragedy of Katrina with original stories of hurricane survivors.

Voices of Louisiana highlights the importance of Louisiana in American history, emphasizing the Louisiana Purchase and the significance of acquiring New Orleans.

A few of the interesting vignettes scattered throughout the play were:

1. When Queen Isabella of Spain, after selling Louisiana, said, “someday I will be back and everyone will be speaking Spanish from the rooftops.”

2. A depiction of when Indians got their name because Christopher Columbus thought he was in India ... where he sought spices.

3. When the French arrived 100 years later, the settlers who were looking for good land to live on, asked, What would I do with all that gold? Put it in the freezer like Thomas Jefferson? Oops, got the wrong Jefferson.

4. When deer skins were being sold for $1 each, that’s where a buck got its name.

The character of Kathleen Babineaux Blanco probably got the loudest laughs, especially when she started reading her television que card backwards.

Rose Marie Sand played the part of the Governor, a pioneer, and Anne Rice; Christian Bordelon played Charlie, Christopher Columbis and Napoleon, Shannon Kaye Gildea was Uncle Sam, LaSalle and Ellen DeGeneres; Tom Hassinger played the part of Thomas Jefferson, Truman Capote’ and a school principal, Will Schneider was the Queen of Spain, Huey Long and Milton Sand; Katie Betz was a native American, Stella Kowalski and Britney Spears; and Barry Lemoin, who also wrote the play, was Bob Livingston, Richard Simmons and the Bard of St. Bernard.

Jude LeBlanc played guitar and sang for the dining audience before the play began and during intermission.

Red Hat ladies galore added the rest of the color for the evening event.

Voices of Louisiana has been on tour and has played in Chicago and other states along the way. The production at the Destrehan Plantion Mule Barn was presented by the River Road Historical Society. For more info visit: VoicesofLouisiana.org.

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