To bring performing arts to the community by showcasing talented actors and actresses of all ages in an accessible, open and encouraging environment, while also nurturing and developing young future performers, regardless of gender, race or socio-economic background.
|Joi Taylor||Executive Director|
|Susan Zeringue||Youth Programs Director|
Board of Directors
In 1983, several actors and supporters of Community Theater officially formed the Northwest Mississippi Theatre Guild, which later became known as Kudzu Playhouse. In the summer of 1986, the group was instrumental in staging “The Robber Bridegroom,” as part of Hernando’s sesquicentennial celebration. Many talented individuals in the county who had been introduced to theater during high school came together and performed to packed houses in the historic Hernando High School Auditorium.
Energized by the success of this production, the group decided to expand further. The next production, “The Fantasticks”, was taken to a statewide competition and swept the awards, winning best production, best director, best actress, best set, and best supporting actress. In 1989, Kudzu again took a production to state competition and returned home with a car full of awards: best show, best director, and best supporting actor for their production of “On the Verge”, a short comedy. The show was then presented at the Southeastern Regional Theater Competition in Louisville, Kentucky, where it again was voted best show and advanced to the national competition in Omaha, Nebraska. The show came in fourth place and attracted enough attention to garner an invitation to perform at the Canadian National Theater Festival in Victoria, British Columbia.
In the spring of 1990, Kudzu was instrumental in bringing theater into Horn Lake and Hernando High Schools, which had no formal theater programs at the time. With a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission, Kudzu helped produce the play “Making It” at Hernando High School, and the grant enabled them to stage joint productions until the spring of 2000 when both schools began individual theater programs.
Since its beginning, Kudzu Playhouse has taken pride in producing high-quality dramatic entertainment using local talent. Despite being “homeless” for most of its history, Kudzu has produced quality entertainment in school cafeterias, high school auditoriums, elementary school classrooms, churches, and restaurants.
Although it has struggled throughout its history and has been plagued by a lack of money and performance space, Kudzu Playhouse has a long and distinguished history. Like the vine that was chosen as its name, Kudzu is hard to kill. Given a little time and fertile soil, it will thrive and spread. Kudzu continues today to present quality, live Community Theater that entertains and delights its audiences.
Where are We Located?
As a true community theatre, we perform shows at venues all over the Mid-South! The majority of our performances, though, are held at the Hernando Performing Arts Center. It is located at 805 Dilworth Ln, Hernando, MS 38632, on the campus of Hernando High School.
To help nurture and develop young future performers, Kudzu created a theater program aimed at a younger audience. Kidzu began as a theater troupe composed of teenagers who took shows to the local elementary schools, but over the years it evolved into a summer workshop for children under 12 and was at one time co-sponsored by the First Regional Library as part of the library’s summer reading program. In 2007, Kidzu became a full-time children’s arm of Kudzu and is now successfully producing shows with entire casts of local kids. At least one show every season is dedicated as a Kidzu production, comprised entirely of actors age 18 and younger. In addition, youths participate in key production team roles where they are mentored by seasoned adults.
In 2012, Kudzu created the Kidzu Board, comprised of local youths (ages 13-18) who have been actively involved in Kudzu and Kidzu productions. The group is overseen by several members of the Kudzu Board of Directors and is integrally involved in the planning process for all Kidzu programs, including one dedicated Kidzu production each season, summer theatre arts camps, and theatre training workshops