WALNUT RIDGE — The Williams Baptist University Theatre program will begin its 2021-22 season with Laura Eason’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” Oct. 29-30 at 7 p.m. in Startup Chapel on the WBU campus.

The plot tells the story of Phileas Fogg, a fantastically wealthy, majestically mysterious, and dedicated man of scientific reason, who has deduced that a mere 80 days is enough to circumnavigate the globe, staking his entire fortune on it.

He and his loyal valet, Passepartout, face bandits, a herd of buffalo, an act of chivalry, and a meddlesome inspector from Scotland Yard trying to prevent him from finishing his journey. This adaptation of “Around the World in 80 Days” features a cast of eight actors performing over 125 roles.

“I wanted a show for the fall that was fun,” Melinda Williams, director of the production said. “Since this production starts the Homecoming week, I wanted it to have a celebratory feel to it.”

Fogg will be played by Junior Joe Hutchison of Evening Shade, Ark.

“The character has everything down to a mathematical accuracy, whether it be jumping from trains to boats to renting an elephant to complete part of the journey,” Williams said.

Playing Fogg’s valet is Bekah Gunter of Huttig, Ark.

“Bekah will be playing a man in this production,” Williams said. “She had such great energy and animation, I thought who better to play a French man serving a rigid Englishman.”

Finishing out the ensemble and playing multiple roles will be Anna Ring of Paragould, Ark., Kade Carter of Bono, Ark., MeKency Shepard of Little Rock, Ark., Alex Osborne of Jonesboro, Ark., and Sade Orija of London, England.

“I lucked out with Sade,” Williams added. “I was debating whether or not to have accents since this play literally takes place all over the world, and then Sade showed up at auditions. She has been a tremendous help with accents and dialects, especially the British ones.

“This is a fun play. Good storyline, great characters from top to bottom and some fantastic lines. It is also a story which should be recognized by the audience since it was a novel and in several movie forms.”

Admission for the production is $3 for students and senior citizens and $5 for general admissions.

Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge, Ark.

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