‘Ms. Jackie’s Bus’ a vehicle for young people to understand their own challenges

“Ms. Jackie’s Bus,” a dramatic play, is a showstopper, crystalizing what our kids are going through today – their struggles, issues, fears, choices and decisions.

Playwright/director Anthony “Tony” Felton premiered his latest take on the pain and the drama dialogued in a two-act play, resonating song, dance and comedy. The play prioritizes the loneliness, misunderstandings and the coping skills employed by young people in today’s society.

Alongside Felton is his assistant director, Melinda Morais.

Cast members take their bows after prioritizing the issues that young people are facing today.
(PHOTOS BY JEROLINE D. MCCARTHY/DAYTONA TIMES)

“Ms. Jackie’s Bus’’ was presented during a matinee and evening performance last month at the Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center. It received rounds of applause from the reveling audiences.

“The events that you see tonight are actually based on true occurrences that are happening here in the state of Florida,” Felton said.

“We use fine arts as a mentoring tool with our young people,” he asserted.

Part of a series
A Facebook page affirms that they’ve gotten up close and personal with some of those issues confronting our students, bus drivers, administrators and law enforcement.

“Ms. Jackie’s Bus” touches on sexuality, accountability, racism and liberation.

Alexis Williams, portraying Priscilla, prepares to sing Yolanda Adams’ “Open My Heart.”

“The play is going to be part of a series,” lighting and sound technician/layout artist Adrienne Hassell Felton, who also is the playwright/director’s wife, mentioned in a press release. “The youth need a voice, and Just 4 U provides mentoring through theater.”

The show is a presentation of Just 4 U Productions, Inc. – a 501©(3) nonprofit; the proceeds from donations and ticket sales support theatrical workshops and scholarships.

The production company is indicative of assisting the targeted adolescents in developing the necessary social proficiencies to meet the unprecedented challenges. They believe theater is an ideal medium to attract and mentor.

Touting the credits of Just 4 U Productions are the executive board: Anthony C. “Tony” Felton, co-founder and president; Adrienne Hassell Felton, co-founder and executive secretary; and Stephanie Robinson, treasurer.

“I wrote this play, but this is a series of plays that will be dealing with relevant issues among young people,” Tony Felton said. “These young people will write the script, and I’ll oversee it.”

A young cast
The young people got to show off their acting skills alongside a few adults.

Ms. Jackie, portrayed by Anissa “Shantel” Davidson, is a school bus driver, identified as experiencing a difficult childhood. She considers herself to be the surrogate mother of those assigned to her bus.

The bonafide Ms. Jackie is Tony Felton’s sister, Jacqueline Midyette, for whom the title of this heart-rendering play is named.

Amber (TaShaye Brown), a sophomore at Flagusia High School, is a product of an abusive past, a past that left her with a speech impediment.

Kendrick (Darrell DeVore/Ken White) is a senior football star athlete, born and raised in Daytona Beach. However, does Kendrick allow the distractions to derail a promising future?

Priscilla (Alexis Williams), an honor student, who is loved by her teachers, has a secret. She would never do anything to disappoint her parents.

Kierlyn (Walker Powell), a senior football star athlete, keeps Kendrick focusing on track, a promise he made to Kendrick’s mom.

Trina (LaToya Headspeth-Tate), a friend of Ms. Jackie, is a fellow bus driver and a traditionalist who comes from an era where kids know their place.

Other cast members opening the door to where Felton is taking the audience are: Mi’chael Wyatt, who portrays Mr. Moore; Raquelle Maybin Wyatt, who plays Mrs. Moore; Nia Alexandria Felton, Kaila; Maya Antoinette Felton, Sarah; Oslyn Bryant, Rosa-lee; Shaunte White, Josie; Angel Hopkins, Zeva; Donna Decina, Mrs. Presley; and Mark Wiggins, Cornelius. Felton portrays School Principal Staples.

Capturing the special effects were: photographer Robin Banks of Dejzan Photography; William “Billy” Amado, stage manager/stage designer; Kathleen McCullough, set designer; Kevin Senior, assistant stage manager; Bert Harrison, backstage manager; Mattie DeVore, stage crew staffer; Diane Matta, wardrobe/prop mistress; graphic artist Ron Bryant of Cut-n-Edge Cartoons; Sunny Delaney, head makeup artist/assistant prop mistress; and other makeup artists: Adrienne Harvey, Raquelle Maybin Wyatt, and TaShaye Brown, along with videographer Carlos Hernandez.

The “Ms. Jackie’s Bus” cast should consider other engagements, but as a touring production so even more theatergoers can see the world of unprecedented challenges that are facing our young people.

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As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.

Celebrations
Birthday wishes to Errol Hooke, March 10; Loretta Pete, Lorraine Trapp, March 13; Ruthie Saunders, Stanley Henderson, March 14.

Happy anniversary to John and Sybil Lucas, March 10; and Kwando and Imani Kinshasa, March 11.

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