The Sun Beam Times had the honor of attending a performance of “Freedom Found” at Gulport’s Catherine Hickman Theater last weekend. Freedom Found is the brain child of Local Doctor Martha Fallis who has made it a focus of her life for nine years. The musical features amazing vocal performances by professional singers and actors, an inspiring story and a great moral message for everyone: “Choose who to be”.
Freedom Found is the story of a family barely surviving an escape from an oppressive tyranny in a foreign land and coming to America for Freedom. The story emphasizes the importance of moral choices and living up to our full potential as individuals. The show can be seen at Gulport’s Catherine Hickman Theater Friday and Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm (4/6-4/8). Tickets and more information are avalialble at http://www.freedomfoundmusical.com/
The play begins as the tale of a three generation family’s struggle to flee an oppressive society and find freedom. Violence and thuggery dominate this unnamed country which could be Nazi Germany, Castro’s Cuba, today’s China or the Balkan’s during the recent violent struggles there in the 90’s. A family is doing its best to live a happy life, but the people are changing. As the mother, Marie, played beautifully by local performer Mary Croom, goes about the daily life of helping her family prosper, she sings laments that as the times change, “people change their views”. Rather than sticking with moral behavior and basic tenets of civil society, they silently or eagerly embrace a dictatorship that resorts to force and rule of man to impose its will. The rule of law no longer matters as the state’s police force and its thug-like extensions take what they want at the point of a gun. They bravely escape in a harrowing scene that has a profound impact on the family.
They arrive in America, viewing the Statue of liberty and are overwhelmed at the glory of freedom in our country. The right to speak their mind, to have easy access to work and an education. The right to live up to their potential. The right of a little girl simply to play with the butterflies and for the mother to not worry that she will be kidnapped on the way home. Yet this is disrupted as gang thuggery begins to permeate the school of the children and they are forced to make a choice about rejecting the same violence they saw in their homeland or ignoring it and remaining silent as so many in their doomed country did before them.
Freedom Found is marked by amazing vocal performances by many local artists. Standouts include Thomas Massey as the lead role, Jake, with a wonderful vocal range and a charmingly sunny disposition that get his character through life. His little sister Sally, played by the lovely Avery Gross, offers inspiring vocal and dance performances capable of tugging at the heartstrings of the most stoic of men in the room. Rosemary Collins and Erika Van Gorden give stunning mezzo-soprano and soprano performances as they sing of freedom, responsibility and love. The male supporting cast offer amusing and also dramatic performance as well. Jeff Clark as the Grandfather Abe, and Kevin Nickorick as the father are impressive and the song delivered by Rex Tabor about his secret coat that will help the family find their way to freedom is a highlight of the first act. The remainder of the cast offer exceptional performances. The only criticism the Times has to offer is that the staging and the action need improvement as they take a back seat to the musical and vocal performances. However, one can understand that a person who is basically financing the entire show on her own (Dr. Follis) must make choices in production value. It is hoped that many will flock to this show and an ardent producer can be found to take this show to the next level. However, those attending will find the inspiring story and outstanding musical performances well worth the price of admission. Everyone in the community will benefit from the messages of the value of freedom, personal choice, personal responsibility, living up to our full potential and standing up for what is right.