Her band’s website promotes the upcoming October tour with shows in Nottingham, Manchester, Gateshead, Hull, Glasgow and London — but first she has performances the next two weekends in Baytown.
Her British fans know Jessica Clements Peavey as the frontwoman for Jess and the Bandits, a popular band bringing the American Country sound to Great Britain. This summer, though, she gave up her usual summer tour to come back home and reprise a role she first performed 19 years ago—The Narrator in the Baytown Little Theater production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
“I spent most of my teenage years in the theater doing the summer musicals,” she said. “For me, it’s always been about performing and music, and that was the thing that kind of helped prep me for what I knew I wanted to do as an adult.”
Peavey performed the role of The Narrator in “Joseph” when she was still in high school in a production directed by Sylvia Wilson. This time around, Wilson’s husband, Jim Wadzinski, directs it.
“When I heard that he was producing it, I thought, oh, my gosh, can I make this work.” She talked with her manager and decided to spend the summer at home instead of touring.
Peavey had gotten married only a couple of years before, and found out shortly after deciding to come home for the play that she was pregnant, and had a baby in April.
“It’s been great being able to do the role all over again,” she said.
“The talent is incredible. I’ve worked with some incredibly talented people around the world, and there’s some ridiculous talent in this cast. I’m blown away.”
For someone unfamiliar with “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” playing The Narrator might sound like a minor role. In this musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, though, it is central.
“In this show, the narrator is essentially a Bible School teacher,” Peavey explained.
“We’ve got about 25 kids who are on stage for the whole time practically. I’m telling them the story of Joseph and his multicolored coat and all the things that happen.
“The great thing about this show as opposed to so many others is that it is a story told to the audience rather than the audience looking at a show happening. So it’s a more interactive type show where the audience is there, we know they’re there and we’re involving them.
“It’s taken the story from the Bible and added a little bit of fun in there and a little bit of theatrical liberties,” Peavey said. “It’s just a wonderful show that you can bring your kids to and know that they’ll just fall in love with it.”
So how did her career move from plays in Baytown to a performing and recording artist in Great Britain?
“I worked with a producer who brought me over there and then from that moment on I started meeting people and developing a fan base and then once you develop a fan base you obviously don’t want to leave it, so I stuck with the UK, as a solo artist, Jessica Clemmons, then for about the last five or six years I’ve been the frontwoman of a band called Jess and the Bandits.”
Wadzinski said, “Jessica started with us when she was 12 years old. Her first show was ‘Bye, Bye Birdie.’”
“When I announced that I was doing the show this summer, I put it on Facebook and she immediately messaged me back and said ‘Oh, I’d love to do it again.’”
“I sent her a schedule and she checked with her management company and she was able to arrange to clear her schedule for the summer so she could stay home and do the show,” he said.
“I made it very clear we couldn’t pay her—we’re all volunteer.
“She said, ‘I understand that.’ I can’t tell you how touched I am that someone would decide to do that,” Wadzinski said. “It’s so nice to have somebody remember their roots and come back and help us make something really special.”
Performances will be at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 26-27 and Aug. 2-3 and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28 and Aug. 4 at the Lee College Performing Arts Center.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Lee College Performing Arts Center box office, by calling 281-425-6255 or at lee.edu/pac.