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On April 1, MCI Associate Director of Development Jason McKenzie will take the stage as the lead in the Joe Jefferson Players’ presentation of “Little Shop of Horrors.” McKenzie, who has been performing with JJP and other local theater groups since 2001, plays Seymour Krelborn, a role McKenzie calls his “all-time No. 1 dream role.” McKenzie said his love for "Little Shop" goes back to age 7 when he first saw the film in theaters.
“Little Shop of Horrors” is a comedic horror rock musical about a meek and hapless florist (Seymour) who raises a plant with an appetite for flesh and blood. As the story develops, Seymour must choose between his life on skid row, the possibility of love with the beautiful Audrey, and the fortune and fame that comes with raising his special plant. Given McKenzie’s theatrical expertise and his passion for musicals and for the cult classic itself, “Little Shop of Horrors,” which runs from April 1-17 at JJP, is a veritable must-see.
Since his first performance in JJP’s “The Rocky Horror Show” (2001), McKenzie has appeared in 16 local plays, including the lead (Cliff) in “Cabaret.” In 2014, McKenzie scored a JJP Joey Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actor for his performance as Patsy in Monty Python’s “Spamalot.”
Though he’s a show-stealer on stage, McKenzie gets just as much exposure behind the scenes. For the past four years, McKenzie has acted as JJP’s vice president of marketing and public relations. It’s a position McKenzie describes as “a huge asset to his role at USA and MCI” because it enables him to make connections. Undoubtedly, McKenzie also makes connections through his charitable outreach, which includes several local non-profit and civic organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile’s Red Shoe Society, for which McKenzie serves as a founding board member.
The connections and exposure McKenzie makes and gets in these important roles contribute favorably toward his position as associate director of development at MCI, a job McKenzie has held since July 2015. The job enables McKenzie to advocate for research and patient care provided at MCI.
“My role is to connect to more people in our communities thereby connecting these communities to MCI,” he said. McKenzie is responsible for setting up private tours, participating in civic and social events, and identifying opportunities to make connections.
McKenzie is also in charge of planning MCI’s new Community Luncheons, which started in January 2016. The luncheons provide an opportunity for McKenzie and MCI to welcome people from around the community and to encourage their involvement with the cutting-edge institute, which McKenzie says is on a trajectory to become “one of the premier cancer research facilities in the country.”
During the luncheons, visitors tour the facility, dine with MCI Director Dr. Michael Finan, and engage in a question-and answer-session.
When he’s not at MCI, McKenzie can be found on USA’s main campus. “Being plugged into the culture on campus at USA is important to my personal development and my ability to speak to the university’s plans,” he said. “Working amid the researchers, clinicians, staff, and patients at MCI reminds of me of my role in looking for opportunities to further our growth.”
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