January 22, 2013
A musical, inside look into the life and career of Academy Award-winning Savannah native Johnny Mercer, “Johnny Mercer and Me!” is coming to the Emma Kelly Theater.
Miriam K. Center, the production’s author, based the musical on her experiences from her personal relationship with Mercer in order to celebrate his hit songs and extraordinary life. Bulloch County native and music icon Emma Kelly is referenced throughout the show. Mercer and Kelly had a special friendship; he even gave her the nickname “The Lady of 6,000 Songs” because of her ability to recall about 6,000 songs.
Presented by the Savannah Community Theatre, the show takes the audience on a trip through the eyes of Maxine, Mercer’s longtime friend and confidante. Viewers will gain a new perspective on Mercer’s private life, love of Savannah and battle with alcoholism. As the musical progresses, Maxine and Mercer’s relationship becomes difficult as Mercer struggles with the brain tumor that precedes his eventual death. For Maxine, his suffering brings back memories of the death of her young son, mother and father. As the two fight to maintain their friendship despite their own personal struggles, they learn the limitations of life and love.
Tom Coleman III is currently the director of the Savannah Community Theatre. He first directed the musical in 2009 at the Savannah Civic Center and played a major role in the revamped production this past year at Savannah’s Muse Arts Warehouse.
“This musical is a wonderful celebration of the life and works of Johnny Mercer,” he said. “This show is a labor of love written by someone who knew the four-time Academy Award winner on a deep and personal level. I’m proud to be part of it.”
Songs include “Something’s Gotta Give,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “The Days of Wine and Roses,” “Moon River,” “Blues in the Night,” “Autumn Leaves,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Skylark,” “One More for the Road,” and eight others.
“Johnny Mercer and Me!” is a joint presentation by the Averitt Center for the Arts and the Savannah Community Theatre. Mercer is played by Jeffery Hall, with Sandra Nix as Maxine, Chris Chandler as Denny and Grace Diaz Tootle as Maxine's mother.
Show time is Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Emma Kelly Theater in downtown Statesboro. Ticket prices range from $18 to $25 and are $10 for youth. For reservations, call the Averitt Center at 912.212.2787 or visit them online