Essential Theatre to premiere ‘Josiah’s Return’

A group of young performers will premiere a play loosely based on the Prodigal Son tonight inside of Charles Winter Wood Theatre.

Co-managing director James Webb wrote the play, “Josiah’s Return,” specifically for participants in the Irene C. Edmonds Youth Camp. The five-week summer camp was for elementary and high school students interested in theater.

After Josiah’s mother dies, his father gives him a portion of his inheritance to travel the world in search of himself. When he runs out of money, he returns home to his family. His father is elated, but Josiah’s siblings want nothing to do with him. Josiah now has to prove to his siblings that he is still one of them and does whatever his brother demands of him in the hopes of reuniting the family as one.

Theater performance instructor Evelyn Tyler said working with the campers was a treat.

“They have an understanding of the discipline,” Tyler said. “They want to refine themselves, so they come ready to work. We tend to embrace all of what the kids are, and we tend to showcase their talents as much as possible.”

Mario Roberts, a fourth-year theater student who saw an early production of the play, enjoyed it.

“I think it was a high-energy show with a lot of singing and dancing, and the kids enjoying the whole Biblical story, the background story of the play,” Roberts said.

The play begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be performed again on Saturday at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $8 for students and children and $5 for FAMU students. For additional information, call 850-561-2425.