On the set with “Sweet Potato Queens” director Randy Redd and star Janine LaManna. Image: Sherry Lucas

by Sherry Lucas

St. Patrick’s Day is just up ahead on Sunday, which means a green light to spirited fun in Jackson. Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade & Festival is still a weekend away — March 24 this year — but a few events here and there should put some sparkle on your emerald.

The long-awaited “Sweet Potato Queens” musical opens at New Stage Theatre for one. I’ve been hearing about this project for about 15 years, and it’s a blast to finally have it here in the town that helped usher this crazy phenomenon into being and propelled SPQ author/creator Jill Conner Browne right up the best-seller lists.

In the hands of Brookhaven native Randy Redd as director (remember “Million Dollar Quartet” here? I sure do!), with Janine LaManna in the lead (Broadway credits include Janet Van De Graaff in “The Drowsy Chaperone,” Nicki in the revival of “Sweet Charity,” Gertrude McFuzz in “Seussical” and more), it sure sounds like fun! Check out the creative team behind the musical: Melissa Manchester, Rupert Holmes and Sharon Vaughn. Bring on the sequins!

Elsewhere, find some Irish food at Saltine (Sunday brunch) or Fenian’s Pub, some Irish dancing at Belhaven Park, and some Irish spirit in your Guinness. May the luck of the Irish be with you this week and beyond.

The “Sweet Potato Queens” Musical, based on Mississippi author Jill Conner Browne’s funny, best-selling series of books, opens Wednesday at New Stage Theatre for a two-week run, with Broadway star and Drama Desk Award nominee Janine LaManna in the lead and Brookhaven native Randy Redd in the director’s seat. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Tuesday and March 20-23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24. Tickets are $35 with discounts for seniors, students and groups. Visit the box office or newstagetheatre.com or call 601-948-3531.

“Sweet Potato Queens” the musical opens Wednesday at New Stage Theatre, with (center) Janine LaManna as Jill Conner Browne and (from left) Mandy Kate Myers, Courtney Holifield, Drew Stark and Taylor Newby. Image: Kyle Tillman

Enjoy spring break fun at the Mississippi Children’s Museum inLeFleur East, where fun activities and themed arts and crafts projects this week will keep kids creatively entertained.

Get the buzz on bees and butterflies at Pollinator Day, 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, where exhibitor stations share info about how pollinators contribute to the food you eat and support healthy ecosystems. Free native wildflower seeds are available while supplies last. The event is included with museum admission ($6 adults/$4 youth 3-18) or membership.

Arts Day at Capitol, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday on the first-floor rotunda of the State Capitol, pulls together more than 30 arts-related organizations to highlight and celebrate the arts’ contributions to the lives of Mississippians. Organized by the Mississippi Arts Commission, the gathering will include reps from the Mississippi Museum of Art, the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience and more. Anderson UMC Choir, Jonathan Blanchard and Jason Mathena are among the performers. It’s free and open to the public.

Arts Day at the Capitol Thursday highlights the way the arts touch our lives. Image: Mississippi Arts Commission

Acoustic Sessions, 6-9 p.m. Thursday at Sneaky Beans Coffee Shop, features Mallory Holladay and Spencer Thomas, playing on the front porch.

The 22nd annual Garden Extravaganza blooms Friday through Sunday at the Mississippi Trade Mart, with a grove of vendors ready to supply your garden and patio needs, with flowers, trees, landscape pros, garden accessories, yard art, ironwork, pottery and more., as well as demos and seminars included with admission. Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; admission is $6 and free for guests 15 and younger. Visit the Mississippi Nursery & Landscape Association’s website,   for a seminar schedule and more details.

March on into Happy Hour, 5 p.m. Friday at BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar, marks the return of monthly happy hours, just in time for spring fever. Think about it. You might need a treatment.

Celebrate St. Paddy’s on Friday, 5:30 p.m., at Belhaven Park on Poplar, with Emerald Accent and the Jackson Irish Dancers.

“A Tale of Two Collections,” featuring works by eight artists held in the collections of the Mississippi Museum of Art and Tougaloo College, opens Saturday at the Mississippi Museum of Art. See works by Romare Bearden, Pablo Picasso, Marie Hull, Elizabeth Catlett and more.

“A Tale of Two Exhibitions” opens Saturday at the Mississippi Museum of Art. Image: Mississippi Museum of Art

The 2019 Soul City Blues Festival, 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mississippi Coliseum, showcases the legendary Betty Wright, along with Willie Clayton, Tre Williams, Urban Mystic and Dave Mack. Tickets are $32-$59 and up on ticketmaster.com.

The Lion Talk Listening Session, 8-11 p.m. Saturday at Offbeat, is an evening of conversation about music and art with emerging artists Cymba (Amari Moyo) and MastadOn (Donovan Barner), hosted by Stephen Brown (5th Child) and Thabi Moyo (Digital Indie Girl).

Get your Irish on Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, with Saltine Restaurant’s St. Paddy’s Day Brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Irish-themed food and drink specials. They’ll do it again on March 24.

Cabaret @ Duling Hall on Monday pays tribute to internationally celebrated singer-songwriter Carole King, 7:30-9:30 p.m. Performances by Alley Jenkins and Tyler Kemp bring her. Tickets are $25 at msopera.org. ‘Feel the Earth Move — Carol King Tribute” celebrates the enduring talent behind such iconic songs as “Natural Woman,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “You’ve Got a Friend” and more.

The Mississippi Humanities Council’s “Ideas on Tap: Locked Out,” 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Hal & Mal’s opens up the discussion on criminal justice in Mississippi. It’s free.

Mountain Man, a singing trio of women nestled in the tradition of American folk and, bring their acclaimed, bewitching harmonies to the stage at Duling Hall, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. It’s $15 advance (ardenland.net) and $20 day of show. Jake Xerxes Fussell, tradition-based songster and guitar picker, opens.

Mountain Man performs Tuesday at Duling Hall. Image: Shervin Lainez

Sherry Lucas, a features writer in Jackson for the last 35 years, is here on Wednesdays with “The Mix,” highlighting a curated sampling of creativity and culture from across the metro area. For additional Fondren events, see our online calendar here. Reach Sherry at sherry@finditinfondren.com.

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