Show at theater Sunday aims to both entertain and teach

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 8, 2014

By David Vitrano

RESERVE – On Sunday, area churches will not be the only places in St. John the Baptist Parish filled with the uplifting sounds of Gospel music as SeLah Productions, under the direction of JaVon Ophelia Butler, bring “Lord, If I Can Help Somebody…” to the stage at St. John Theatre in Reserve.

Butler, who also wrote the play, said the name of the production company means to pause or to think about in Hebrew and can be found in the Book of Psalms.

“We want our audience to stop and think about what they saw,” said Butler. “We want them to apply what they’ve learned.”

Butler lives in Lutcher, and most of the cast comes from the surrounding area.

One of the main actors in the play, Telly Bethancourt, said he, like many of his colleagues, got his start doing small church plays and other performances.

“I realized I had a gift,” he said. “I enjoy doing this.”

He said while doing the smaller shows, he caught the eye of Butler, who recognized his potential. Despite this, the Vacherie resident shared he felt slightly intimidated by the scope of this project.

“As time progresses, I feel a little shaky,” he said. “But I know with the help of the Lord, He will come through for me.”

Fellow actor Ashley Walker said she is also new to larger shows but is able to draw on her own difficult life in her performance.

“It’s very inspirational just to be able to give back to the community,” she said. “You never know what’s going on in other people’s homes.”

Another actor, Nolan D. Scott Jr., also drew from his own life, albeit from a very different source.

“I always clown with my nieces,” he said.

Although real life inspired this comedic turn, Scott said one of the things he enjoys most about acting is the escape it offers.

“I get to come out of my everyday life,” he said.

The experience has also been an eye opener for many in the cast regarding their own talents.

Darren Jasper said although acting has appealed to him in the past, this is his first experience with a large stage production.

“I just wanted to try something new,” he said. “Things that I never thought I’d be able to do, I’ve done.”

As much as putting the show together has been a learning experience for many in the cast, Butler hopes the show’s 10 varied scenes have some knowledge to impart to the audience.

“We’re trying to promote the Gospel message of serving,” she said. “We want the audience to laugh, learn and live.”

“Lord, If I Can Help Somebody…” showtimes are at 3 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12, at St. John Theatre, 115 W. Fourth St., Reserve.. Tickets are $15, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society.