A Hop, Skip and a Jump to the Holidaze

The sport of jump rope has come a long way from the school playground. Next week, Billy Jackson, 23, will demonstrate the skills he learned in an afterschool program that later sent him and a team of friends to the semifinals of America’s Got Talent.

Jackson is a featured performer with Cirque Dreams Holidaze, the Christmas-themed show from Neil Goldberg’s Pompano-based circus company. Holidaze opens at the Broward Center’s Au Rene Theatre on Tuesday, December 27 and running through January 2 as part of Broadway Across America’s 2011-12 season in Fort Lauderdale.

Dozens of talented acrobats, jugglers and aerialists will emerge from a living Christmas tree to wow audiences across the country for the third season. Jackson joined the company in 2009.

“We’ve really tried to put jump rope out there as something that not just little kids do,” Jackson said in a phone interview from Detroit. In addition to lots of tricks with a trio of other jumpers, he enjoys the opportunity to do “character work, being a part of the entire show and not just the jump rope act.”

Tickets for Cirque Dreams Holidaze are still available for $29.25-81.25 at BrowardCenter.org.

Local Writer-Producer Planning New Film

In response to horrifying incidents of homophobic bullying across the country, Miami Beach writer and filmmaker Dave Mills hopes to go one step further from the popular “It Gets Better” campaign.

Mills has written an independent feature film, “Just a Small Town Boy,” based on his own experiences growing up in a small town in rural Kentucky. He tells the story of Travis Mitchell (played by Blaine Reagan) who is captain of the revered school basketball team and who is keeping a secret.

Mills, along with co-producer Clint Davis of Fort Lauderdale, plans to film the movie entirely in South Florida and submit the finished project to gay and lesbian film festivals across the country, with the hopes of finding a distributer for theatrical release.

The film has a $19,000 budget and most of the costs include locations, permits and salaries for the actors and crew. Mills and Davis are relying on online “crowd fundraising” to make the project a reality and donations from $10 to $2500 are being accepted at Indiegogo.com/just-a-small-town-boy.

To learn more about the film, go to JustaSmallTownBoyFilm.com.