Friends team up for ‘[title of show]’
Jeremiah Hobbs, who grew up in Sharpsburg and attended East Coweta High, acquired the “acting bug” when he least expected it.
During ninth grade at ECHS he had lost interest in being in the band and needed an elective class. Since the only other available elective class was drama, he reluctantly signed up for it. Jeremiah considered himself “super shy,” but being inspired by his teacher, Dr. Richard McMichen, he forced himself to get outside of his comfort zone and discovered a passion for acting.
After a few years of Drama Class, Jeremiah’s first acting gig was a Shakespeare spoof at East Coweta High, “All’s Well That Ends As You Like It.” The cast transformed the lunchroom into a dinner theatre, serving food and drinks in character. Jeremiah discovered he was definitely in his element.
On the other end of the spectrum, Justin Thompson grew up in Newnan, on the opposite side of Coweta County, and developed a love for musicals and theatre at the youthful age of six. He vividly recalls accompanying his Dad, Scott Thompson, to his first play, “Li’l Abner,” a musical being performed at his future alma mater, Newnan High School. As Justin watched the actors and noticed the connection between them and the audience, he decided from that moment on that he wanted to pursue theatre.
Justin’s parents, Scott and Kristi, were not surprised over his newfound focus, since as a toddler he had been singing, even before he could even talk clearly. Although his family was “baseball-driven and sports oriented,” Justin threw them a curveball with his sole interest being music and theatre. Corey, his younger brother, would get drafted to help Justin perform plays in their living room, while Scott and Kristi cheered them on.
“School House Rock Live!,” produced by Newnan Theatre Company, was Justin’s first theatrical performance while he was in middle school. He went on to perform during high school in Newnan HS’s production of “Guys and Dolls” as Nicely Nicely. Justin credits theatrical artistic director Dave Dorrell, who patiently instructed him in the art of musical theatre, for his success.
Although Jeremiah and Justin attended different high schools, they met one summer when both participated in the “Star Program.” Three high schools (East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate) collaborated efforts to produce the musical, “Le Miserables.” Jeremiah played the role of Marius, and Justin portrayed the character of Thenardier at the Centre for Performing and Visual Arts. Once on stage together, they became fast friends, sharing their passion for musical theatre.
While performing in “Le Miserables,” Jeremiah realized he wanted to act in theatre as a living, not as a hobby. After high school, he wanted to attend Columbus College. Students had to audition to study theatre; fortunately, Jeremiah did well and obtained a HOPE Scholarship to help with expenses. After graduating from Columbus in 2009, Jeremiah moved to New York. He roomed for a while with high school friend, Chase Peacock, who was acting on Broadway. After six months, though, he realized the difficulty of landing roles on Broadway with only educational credits.
In the meantime, Justin had been discovered by The Legacy Theatre and enjoyed acting as a part-time hobby. One day at auditions, in walked Jeremiah who landed the role of Chip (a 10-year-old boy at a spelling bee) in “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Justin was also featured in the play as Leaf Coneybear, and the young men reestablished their friendship. Both have been obsessed with The Legacy Theatre ever since.
Their upcoming play — simply called “[title of show]” — runs Oct. 11-27 at The Legacy Theatre, which has a “Seinfeld feel” about it. Jeff (played by Justin) and Hunter (played by Jeremiah) are two struggling writers who hear about a new musical theatre festival. However, the deadline for submissions is a mere three weeks away. With nothing to lose, the pair decides to try to create something new with the help of their friends Susan (played by Marissa Druzbanski) and Heidi (played by Mandy Mitchell). [title of show] follows Hunter and Jeff and their friends on their journey through the gauntlet of creative self-expression. In the span of 90 minutes they write and perform their show at the festival and learn lessons about themselves as people, friends and artists. The musical received a Tony Award.
Justin says, “I can relate to Jeff about his need to keep things together, the foundation of the core group of friends, and his dreaming. This show is very special to me, sharing the stage with three of my close friends and working with Mark and Bethany again.”
Jeremiah has a gleam in his eye when he states, “My dream is to create an original work. I am currently enjoying writing an original musical.”
Follow Justin and Jeremiah’s journey at www.thelegacytheatre.org .