A young man from Thomson soon will step on stage to portray Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African American boy who was murdered in Mississippi in 1955.
Darrick “D.J.” Brown, a junior at Thomson High School, landed one of the two leading roles in the Augusta Jr. Players’ production of “Anne & Emmett.”
He will portray Emmett Till and Mary Charles Johnson, who also has ties to Thomson, will play Anne Frank.
Brown is the THS drum major, an active member of the musical theater department, and in the Beta Club. He first crossed paths with the Augusta Jr. Players three years ago with a role in “Annie Get Your Gun.”
“Ever since then, I’ve loved the organization,” Brown said, as he pointed out the longevity of the performing group. The Augusta Jr. Players are now in their 75th season.
Unfortunately, he said, in the past two years band performances and other commitments have kept him from being in the Augusta productions.
So, this is his first leading role, and it can be intense.
He auditioned several months ago and just 20 minutes later received the call that he was cast as Emmett Till.
He hadn’t even made it back to Thomson yet. He and his mother were at Red Lobster in Augusta when they received the exciting news. Since that call, he has been working to thoroughly understand Till and the events surrounding his murder.
“I’m fascinated with history. To get myself into the mind set of this 14-year-old child I had to watch different interviews, particularly from his mother and his cousins – the cousins that were living in Mississippi that he went to visit. I just got to hear their side of the story,” he said. “It’s really serious. It’s very intense also, for both of us.”
He said he is enjoying working with his counterpart, Mary Charles Johnson, and said she is very talented.
“We both have to take moments away and stop during rehearsal and get ourselves together because it really is intense and really goes deep into their stories,” he said.
Brown is the son of Darrick Brown Sr., owner of D.T. Brown Funeral Home; and Sherrika Brown, Thomson Elementary School principal. Johnson is the daughter of Keith and Virginia Johnson and the granddaughter of Mary Lyn and Lavern McCullough, of Thomson; and Pat Barmore, also of Thomson.
Performances are set for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Richmond Academy Auditorium.
“We were surprised by what the author and playwright wrote. It’s so intense and so surreal. This really happened,” Brown said.