It's a bird, it's a plane, it's. . . Rodney Whatley

Published 6:23 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Rodney Whatley is taking a touch of Atmore to Pensacola Junior College with superheroes and villains dancing, singing and acting.
Whatley, Escambia County High School class of 1982, grew up in McCullough and his parents, Wayne and Joyce Whatley, now live in Atmore. Whatley is using his love for theatrics to direct "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman…the Musical!" at PJC, where he works as the director of theater.
"This production is different than others in that it is a marriage of the two great geek loves of my life, comic books and theater," Whatley said. "I am fortunate in that I love my job. Each production is, rather than a labor of love, simply an act of love. There is no labor involved. Each cast teaches me something new. Becoming a teacher has made me a great student, not only of the performing arts, but of life."
Whatley accredits his love for theater to his drama teacher at ECHS, Dayton Long. Whatley first met Long when he was directed to his first high school production, "The Boyfriend" when he was in the ninth grade. The next year Long cast Whatley as Conrad Birdie in "Bye Bye Birdie."
"I cite as the beginning of my life-long love with theater to Mr. Dayton Long, my drama teacher and director in such plays as "Bye Bye Birdie" and "M*A*S*H,'" Whatley said. "I attended Mr. Long's funeral a few months ago and was given the opportunity to speak during the service of the great influence Mr. Long had on me and how, in essence, he saved my life by sparking a love of education and performing arts. I would not be the person I am today without him, and without the great community of Atmore."
Whatley also attended JDCC, which was Jefferson Davis Jr. College, where Hermine Holzborn-Downing taught him theater. He has always been proud to be from Atmore, which is one of the reasons he taught at JDCC before accepting the position of director of theater at PJC in 2005.
The PJC Summer High school Onstage Workshop presents the 1960s classic, which promises fun for the entire family. The show will bring back Superman, Lois Lane and main villains and other superheroes. There will be music, dancing, singing along with the acting and special effects.
The show will be July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday shows and 2:30 p.m. for Sunday shows. Tickets are $12. Please call 850-484-1847 for more information and reservations.

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