The Mystic Krewe of Zeus gathered Friday, Feb. 21, at the Saenger Theater to crown His Majesty, Zeus LXXX and His Queen.
As elegantly-dressed guests entered the Theatre and made their way to their seats, the Coronation Orchestra, under the direction of Musical Director, Mrs. Tammy Strahan Mansfield, played a musical prelude of easily recognizable tunes from the decade featured in tonight's Coronation theme, Back to the Eighties.
Dr. John Michael Lopinto, the Host for the celebratory evening, welcomed everyone and expressed much heartfelt appreciation to the General Chairmen, the Drs. Alan Douglas and Melinda Lucas, and the Directors, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Stockton Messer, Jr., for this extravaganza, where we celebrated the arrival of Zeus LXXX. The Royal Entertainers, Lauren Catherine Claire Leake and Joseph Ryan VanZandt, wowed the assembly with familiar tunes, as Dancers, Rachael Elizabeth Barbieri, Anna Bradley Black, Maggie Elizabeth Gratwick, and Zoey Grace Swan, performed choreographed dance numbers. Parents of the Dancers are Dr. and Mrs. Rocco Anthony Barbieri, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Bradley Russell Black, Mr. and Mrs. John Hutchinson MacFarlane Gratwick, and Mr. and Mrs. James Randolph Swan.
In the dark Theatre, a single beam of light revealed Doc Blackngold, portrayed by Dr. Aubry Keith Lucas, creeping slowly across the stage. Suddenly, with the help of a little magic, electric sparks started cracking and lights began flickering as a hush fell over the audience. As the curtains parted, the elegantly draped Royal Thrones, soon to be the seats of honor of the new Monarchs, were revealed in front of a backdrop, displaying brightly colored images that depicted people and events and pop cultural moments of the 1980's. The Coronation of Zeus LXXX had begun with this spectacular production and musical extravaganza of Back to the Eighties.
The masked Royal Captains of the Krewe, Dr. George Joshua Blair, William Gregory Brett, Dr. John David Bullock, Burnice Wesley Curry, III, the Honorable Burnice Wesley Curry, IV, Dr. Robert Carrington Dews, Jr., Dr. Frederick O'Neal Gregg, Daniel Herring Jussely, Dr. Joseph Troy McIntire, Dr. John Boone Roberson, Douglas Wesley Rouse, III, Samuel Jaron Sackler, Dr. Ronald Louis Schwartz, Scott Joseph Schwartz, and Joseph Strom Shifalo, made their customary march throughout the aisles of the Theatre, garbed in colorful costumes of satin, sequins, and cavalier hats.
As the Captains took their appointed places on stage, the presentation of the former Kings and Queens of the Krewe began. The Past Royalty acknowledged the applause and accolades befitting their prominent positions in the Krewe, and were escorted to their seats in the Royal Boxes.
As the former Royalty was seated, the Dancers performed for the audience as the immediate past Monarch, Zeus LXXIX, Dr. Alan Douglas Lucas, and his lovely Queen, Jennifer Holleman St. John, were introduced and seated in the Royal Boxes.
Traditional Zeus fanfare signaled the time was near for the introduction of the new Sovereigns. As murmurings of anticipation crescendoed, His Imperial Majesty, King Zeus LXXX, James Ernest Duff, and his young Queen, Her Majesty Camille Alexandra Azar, resplendent in trappings of royalty, stepped into the limelight, with riotous applause and approval from their subjects. As the Royal Couple embarked on their royal trek throughout the Theatre in the traditional flamboyant manner, they acknowledged the cheers of their subjects. Escorting Her Majesty was her father, Dr. George James Azar III, Zeus LXXVIII. The Royal entourage walked behind. The new Monarchs paused before the Royal Boxes where they offered toasts to the former Queens and Kings, and to their families.
The King wore the traditional Zeus King's knee-length tunic, trimmed in jewels of silver and gold. His mantle and robe were embellished with silver and golden jewels and paillettes.
In the Royal entourage was the King's Grand Marshal, Ernest Ricky Gibson. The King's Captains were Dr. Joe Hand Campbell, Jr. and Benjamin Waddle, Jr. The King's Pages were David Luke Hrom, son of Dr. and Mrs. John Stewart Hrom, III, and Briggs Stephen Waldrop, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jared Ambrose Waldrop. The King's Prince and Princess were Jonathan Lester Duhon, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Lester Duhon, Sr. and Tatum Lee Murphey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Stokes Murphey. The King's Royal Heralds were Carter LeRoy Miles and Jon Dawson Weathers, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Christopher LeRoy Miles, and Mr. Bradley Keith Weathers and Ms Sherri Thomas Weathers, respectively. The King's Royal Standard Bearers were Steven Joseph Johnson, son of Mr. and Mrs. Steven Joel Johnson, and Ethan Walker Tator, son of Ms Julie Walker Tator and Corey Evan Tator.
Her Majesty's Grand Marshal was Dr. Eric Wiggins Enger, and the Queen's Captains were Dr. William Lewis Pace and Dr. Gregory Nolan Vickers. Her Majesty's Royal Pages were Carrington Lane Dews and Risi Todd Dixon, daughters of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Carrington Dews, Jr. and Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Todd Dixon. The Queen's Prince was George Carey Norris, son of Mr. and Mrs. Terry Joe Norris, Jr., and Her Majesty's Princess was Rebecca Taylor Rouse, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wesley Rouse, III. The Royal Jewel Bearers were Vivian Lowery Bishop and Caroline Campbell Moore, the daughters of John Bancroft Bishop and Ms Christa Rouse Bishop and Dr. and Mrs. Charles Robert Moore. Completing the Queen's Court were Her Majesty's Ladies-in-Waiting, Caroline Adele Azar, daughter of Dr. George James, III and Dr. Deborah Tarpley Azar, and Charlotte Anne McQueen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Christian Lee McQueen.
The Court Children wore knickers and tunics, or ball gowns of ivory satin with gold and rhinestone bead detail. The Pages and Jewel Bearers wore Calot caps, with white plumes, and the Princes, Princesses and Pages wore rhinestone encrusted tiaras or crowns. The Standard Bearers wore gold Cavalier hats, with long white plumes, and carried the new King's flags.
For her Coronation, the beautiful Queen chose a bespoke full-length gown in a cream-colored, double-faced silk, with an aged overlay, encrusted with bronze and silver rhinestones. The gown featured a sweetheart neckline, scoop back, and court train. Her Majesty's gown of original design was lavishly beaded in clear and bronze Swarovski crystals. The Coronation gown was created by Mary Ross of Hattiesburg.
As the new Royalty returned to the stage for the crowning ceremony, their Royal Courts took their appointed positions around the Royal Thrones, in front of the Zeus Crest.
As the regal Miss Azar received her crown and was presented her royal scepter, the audience rose to pay tribute to King Zeus LXXX, and his Queen. After acknowledging the accolades of the attendees, they ascended the steps and took their places on the Royal Thrones. Once seated, the Royal Entertainers and the Royal Dancers saluted the arrival of the Prologue Children, the Dignitaries, and the Maids and Dukes of the Royal Court of His Majesty, King Zeus LXXX.
In keeping with the Coronation theme, Back to the Eighties, the Prologue Children and Dignitaries entertained and amused the Royalty and their guests, with lively performances synonymous with the decade of the 1980's, with its rich cultural heritage of music, theatre and movies.
A duo of Royal Dancers led an energetic coterie of Prologue Children on to the stage. Costumed in blue body suits and white linen skirts or pants, the True Blue Icons weaved through a village of small colorful cottages. The Icons were Arden Wood Anderson, Louis Grant Bennett, Jr., Katherine Elizabeth Berry, Ethan Alexander Brinkley, Christopher Cole Douglas, Cecilia Carlyle Duhon, Shepherd Lee Keene, Mazzei Sophia Miles, Luci James Miller, Bishop Turner Page, Vera Gray Paladichuk, Wilford Albert Payne, IV, Jillian Gray Thieling, Mallory Clark Thieling, Karrie Ann Walker, Maria Malone Walker, Coleman Keith Waters, Lucy Kate Waters, and Thomas Parker Weeks, all children of Krewe members.
The 1980's had a fascination with the uses of atomic energy and the power of nuclear fission. As the Orchestra music escalated, a group of high-powered Atomic Particles bounded before the Royalty. All children of Krewe members, the Nuclear Fission Particles were Emma Kathryn Bolster, Elizabeth Kate Boucher, Wilkins Waddell Bounds, Harrison Banks Brady, Marion Harris Curry, Stella Claire Dews, Caroline Matilda Kosko, Matthew Graham Leathers, Jr., Wyatt Gurner Maholm, Landon Slade Mayo, John Ramsey McQueen, Phillip Tyler McQueen, Micaela Sadicoff Shemper, Alexander Hood Shifalo, Hayden McKenzie Shifalo, Olivia Christine Tator, and Loulou Leann Van Slyke. The Radiation Safety Officer was Mark Roberson Holland, II. They wore neon-colored costumes, with swirling ribbon designs.
Laser-projected cat eyes were spread over the walls of the auditorium, making the Royalty feel as though they had entered a world of felines. Another group of Prologue Children, outfitted as furrific felines, darted on stage and bowed to the Monarchs. The tribe of Frisky Felines were Maggie Moore Boucher, Sterling Elizabeth Dews, Stevee Kate Dixon, Claire Moran Hallman, Bracey Elizabeth Koenenn, Emily Cade Koenenn, Nora Douglas McCarthy, Jane Ramsey Middleton, Margaret Diane Middleton, Molly Preston Phillips, Schuyler Elise Priebe, Caroline Grace Shappley, Addison Love Tatum, and Natalie Dodd Thieling.
With spotligthts gyrating with the beat of the music, it was a THRILL to see the Kings and Queens of Pop cut a rug for the Court. The Queens of Pop, in Zombie-like attire, were Rachael Elizabeth Barbieri, Anna Bradley Black, Addison Blair Dyess, Paige Elizabeth Farris, Clara Jane Granberry, Maggie Elizabeth Gratwick, Abby Marie Hall, Allison Taylor Mayo, Madeline Davis Molpus, Emily Grace Parish, Zoey Grace Swan, and Hayden Elizabeth Tyner. The Kings of Pop were Jackson Thomas Gillis, Gray Spivey Phillips, Tyler Marshal Rayburn, and Williamson John Shappley. They wore red leather jackets, high-water length trousers, black-patent loafers, and sported a dazzling sequined glove.
Perhaps the most popular movie of the 1980's was a movie about scientists struggling with green apparitions and paranormal activities. The Zeus rendition of this fun fantasy adventure of battling supernatural threats, was performed by the Dignitaries, the Band of Marauding apparition exterminators, the Krewe's newest members. As gobos of green-slimy, ultra-powerful, malignant entities from another dimension were projected on the stage, the Dignitaries marched in lockstep. Each Dignitary wore a khaki jumpsuit, complete with a backpack and an attached proton gun. The Dignitaries were Kevin Randal Baas, Chase Ryland Barnes, Dr. John Hunter Berry, Dr. Curtis Matthew Bishop, Joseph Sidney Bost, Mitchell Steven Brent, Dr. Gerald Ball Broussard, Jr., Christopher Jermaine Brown, Charles Jerome Brown, II, Donald Patrick Dornan, Dr. Sean Phillip Douglas, Christopher Shea Lott, Dr. John Knox Mayfield, III, James Howard McMahon, III, Gent Taylor Parker, James Coleman Pierce, Jonathan Alexander Sims, Joshua Martin Sims, Donald Bryan Sinclair, James Brian Tuttle, Jr., Douglas Eric Waldron, Russell Dennis Warren, II, Gary Steven West, II, and Dr. Griffin Harold West.
Completing the Court was the presentation of the Maids and Dukes for the 2020 Carnival season. The charming Maids, in ball gowns of individual design, were Caroline Elizabeth Alston, Hannah Taylor Cox, Kelley Michelle Courtney, Caroline Elizabeth Duff, Hannah Ryan Flathau, Kerry-Camille Helveston, Sarah Shaunak Henderson, Mary Franklin McCarthy, Margaret Ann Phillips, Lucy Elizabeth Pruitt, Allison Layne Watts, and Mary Abigail York. The Dukes, in formal attire, were John Preston Orlando Andy, John Michael Blakeney, Jr., Joel Chandler Daniels, Patrick Cooper Davis, Lars Thomas Losee, Warren Patrick McGee, Harley Lee Sims, III, Sean Anderson Smith, William Arthur Whitehead, III, Christopher Lewis Wilkins, and Jackson Gillespie Wilkins.
With his entire Royal Court assembled, His Majesty called for the Royal families to be presented on stage and receive tokens denoting royal favor.
As the Coronation drew to a close, His Majesty, King Zeus LXXX, commanded all of his subjects and invited guests to attend the Royal Ball, and partake of the revelry and festivities of the Mardi Gras season.
The colorful and music-filled extravaganza culminated with a traditional and exuberant Mardi Gras Parade led by the Grand Marshals and Captains, tossing trinkets to the glitzy group gathering.