Awesome (or awful) Auditions!

Auditions – the word that simultaneously evokes excitement and anxiety in actors of all ages.  For non-performing arts activities, auditions are analogous to try-outs.  These are generally not events where everyone gets a trophy so to speak.  This blog post is not about professional auditions, although there are similarities in the process; rather, I am going to share personal thoughts and experiences as a theatre mom and sometimes community actor.

As an adult who has been involved in community theatre since sixth grade, I’ve had some experience with the audition process.  Of course, back when I was in high school, our local theatre wasn’t as popular as some of the other activities in town, so when it came to casting a play, directors were happy if they had as many people show up as roles available. It seems like children today are much more involved in performing arts, at least outside of school, than when I was younger.  Just looking at my Facebook friends and status updates, we have a plethora of talented kids!  I have three friends whose kids just graduated from college theatrical programs, one whose daughter recently attended a week-long invitational voice workshop, one who directs summer programs, a drum major, and many involved in local productions in lead and ensemble roles.  So with all this talent and interest, how does that impact the audition process?  

Obviously, it has become more competitive.  Therefore, we need to prepare more effectively physically and emotionally to handle the challenges.  As an adult auditioning, it is important to acknowledge any time constraints upfront.  For example, many of the Springer shows involve professional actors with some amateurs involved as well, which is great because of the opportunity to learn and interact with a diverse group of people from all over the country.  Be aware, though, that some of the productions and/or roles require daytime and extended rehearsals.  Since many people work, that is something to consider.  Always be honest about your commitments wherever you audition.  Directors will often tell you that listing commitments won’t eliminate you from consideration, but not listing them and being cast without being forthright, could cause you to lose the role, or to be put on the “do not cast list” in the future.  I’ve only directed one show, but I will tell you that if you aren’t reliable in one show, it is unlikely you will be offered a prime spot in another. 

Another piece of advice as a former director, watching prospective cast members at auditions gives us clues about your personality and work ethic.  Producing a play is a collaborative effort.  Even though theatre folks are known to be dramatic, diva attitudes at auditions are a turn off.  After rehearsals begin, these tactics may be tolerated a bit more, think: “I’m not wearing that costume because it doesn’t look good on me.”  Or when an actor constantly tries to be in front of her colleagues, “This is really my best side.”  Anyway, directors will tolerate some of this behavior once a show has been cast, but don’t push it.  I once told a middle-schooler that she could be replaced.  She was extremely upset, but I had to tell her that none of us are irreplaceable, including the director.  Be a team player! To that end and back to the above commitment conversation, I have also made adjustments in my cast when an actor missed too many rehearsals, moving people out of better roles and into the ensemble.  Again, as an actor you are not only responsible for yourself, but also accountable to your fellow thespians and to the production as a whole.

For children and teens, auditions can be frustrating, angst-ridden experiences.  My daughter, Cydney, will tell you that it’s not easy to get through the feeling of disappointment over roles and casting.  As she will admit, she has cried over numerous casting decisions that didn’t go exactly her way.  To make the process more bearable, she tries not to get her hopes up (not easy), and has realized over the last few years that casting decisions are not usually a reflection on you personally, or even your talent most times.  Her brother, Jackson, has a slightly easier time of it at auditions because boys are always needed!  As they have gotten more involved in theatre, they have realized that the competition increases.  Kids who stick with theatre are competing against other kids who have done the same creating a more talented pool. Directors will tell potential cast members that decisions sometimes come down to age, height, chemistry, even at times hair color.  Some roles demand that siblings may look similar for example, or that one character is noticeably shorter than another.

So what’s a hopeful actor to do?  Maintain a healthy perspective and put your best foot forward.  Try not to get discouraged, and consider other roles, especially if you are just starting out.  Each role will give an aspiring actor experience that will help him or her in the future.  Yes, the adage, “There are no small parts, only small actors,” often rings true.  At the same time, if you are not committed to the production, don’t accept a role. Better to decline upfront than to decide it’s not worth your time halfway through rehearsals.  Prior to auditions, always be prepared by reading about the plot of the show, memorizing a monologue (if required or suggested), talking to others if possible about the director’s expectations.  Finally, chalk each audition up to experience, and remember you are making contacts each time.  While this director may not have a spot for you now, there may be another show down the road you would be perfect for!  

Interested in auditioning for a local show? Keep up with local audition opportunities on our audition link above or by following Chattahoochee Valley Performing Arts on Facebook.  Then, get ready for the dreaded CAST LIST DAY!  In my family, this is even more drama-filled than audition preparation!  Above all, anyone who has been involved in community theatre can tell you, the theatre experience is really about the camaraderie, that feeling of team and belonging, knowing you are part of something creative that brings other people enjoyment.  And if all this audition talk makes you cringe, don’t fret. You can still be part of the team by working backstage, or helping with sound, lights, or set design.  There’s something for everyone in the theatre, and that’s why we love it so much!  

Chorus Line

” I hope I get it”

Curtain Up Columbus!

Spring(er) into Action this Month!

Summertime in Uptown Columbus means the gray t-shirts are back, and camps are in session.  June sessions have ended, and July ushers in another group of offerings for all ages at Springer Theatre Academy.  And this year brings some familiar sights, as well as new events!

First, get ready for the second annual TEACHaret!  At this FUNdraiser for the Academy, instead of seeing the students perform as they do at the end of each session, the teachers strut their talents for students, parents, and community audience members.  Ixchel Samaniego created the idea last year, and she has returned as lead musical theatre teacher for 2016 and is producing this upcoming showcase in conjunction with Sally Baker, Springer Academy Director. The 2nd annual TEACHaret: A Wise Investment will be held on Thursday July, 21, at 7 p.m. in the Springer Opera House Mainstage.  Last year’s event which raised $2500 easily outgrew its venue in the Dot McClure.  This year’s multi-genre presentation features musical theatre, dance, comedy, and more, all performed by faculty and staff of the Springer Theatre Academy. According to Samaniego, TEACHaret is the staff’s opportunity to give back to the program and raise money to provide more students the benefits of attending the Academy.  Samaniego reflected in last year’s post:

Everyone on the staff has so much talent and passion for what they do, and we all love what the Springer has to offer. So we wanted to give back in another way. Sally [Baker] loved the idea. The staff was immediately on board to volunteer their time to do this for the Academy…and the rest is history!” 

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Springer Faculty and Staff 2016

A suggested donation of $10 will be taken at the door, though other amounts are welcome. Academy merchandise and concessions will be sold at intermission, so bring some extra money.  Also, the student who brings the most guests with them will get to be part of the show!

Sally Baker, who became director in 2015, leads the Springer Academy and its training programs of the State Theatre of Georgia (our national historic landmark). The Academy was founded in 1996 by Ron Anderson who still volunteers his time and has been seen enjoying the summer student presentations. The Academy has grown to over 700 students and continues to focus on a foundation of Life Skills through Stage Skills.  For more information about TEACHaret contact Ixchel at or Sally at

So what was new this year?  Most classes remain the same from year to year including improvisation, musical theatre, and scene study, and others rotate.  Acting for Film was back on the rotation this year, and students learned not only the differences between stage and film acting, but also some film-making and preparation skills.  One big change this summer was the addition of a master class for advanced students interested in  further training in certain areas.  This year students could choose specialized classes in either improvisation or musical theatre.  They also received instruction on scene acting and worked on professionalism.  This period of the day also involved question and answer time with stage professionals and discussion about education, auditioning and specific training for different fields. The inaugural presentation of Master Class included each student’s Shakespearean monologue, a long-form improvisation, musical duets, a group choreography number, and the show-stopping “It’s Quiet Uptown” from Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton.


Academy students Cydney and Jackson Landreau with musical theatre instructors Corie and Ixchel

The last new event is the first Night of New Work which is next Thursday, July 14th at 6 pm in the Emily Woodruff Hall (Mainstage). This will be a presentation of original work written by Springer students and performed for you by professional actors. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase their creativity! Anyone is welcome to attend and there is no cost for admission, although the Springer will be accepting donations at the door (suggested donation of $5). Deadline for submissions is TOMORROW! See Below!

For students who plan to submit pieces: the deadline is Friday, July 8th at 12:00 pm. Your submission may be in a variety of forms, but must be something that is meant to be performed. It does not need to be complete (the way a play is considered a “complete work”); it can be a monologue, scene, etc. The piece may be as short as 30 seconds, and it may involve other elements, such as music and dance. You may submit a hard copy, or you can email your submissions to
As always, you can keep up with the local performing arts events and auditions by following this blog and by liking our Facebook page Chattahoochee Valley Performing Arts. Come out and support the arts at these and other events – Curtain Up Columbus!

Summer already?

Where has the time gone?  I had every intention of reviewing several high school productions, but with teaching and the end of the year, plus my own participation in a show in Auburn, the months flew with no new blog post.  So, this may be a long one.

legally blonde 2Brookstone High School presented Legally Blonde the Musical in March. This was a very entertaining production, though it was altered from its original to make it more high school friendly. For the most part an ordinary theatre-goer wouldn’t notice the changes since the plot and dialogue were very similar.  Only someone very familiar with the musical would notice the omission of one of the most clever songs in the score, “There, Right There.” Aside from the changes, the performances were lively and fun.  Krista Maggart and her team of directors and choreographers go above and beyond in encouraging students to participate, and often end up directing a cast of more than 50 members.  As a former middle school drama teacher, I know how difficult it is to coordinate the various schedules of students involved in myriad activities.  Great job cast and crew of Legally Blonde! Loved the music, choreography, set and more!

legally blonde

Camille, Cydney, and Avery as Elle’s Delta Nu friends and Greek Chorus shown here with Lauren Roman as Elle Wood

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend Columbus High’s production of The Addams Family, but my children, Cydney and Jackson, did.  Again, some songs and dialogue were adjusted for the audience, but overall, it was another great show!  They especially enjoyed the ancestors’ dance numbers, as well as good friend, Emma Lipscomb’s outstanding portrayal of Alice, Wednesday’s future mother-in-law.  Another friend Vivian Lee-Bolton shared her talents again, this time as sassy, supercilious, but strangely sweet Wednesday Addams. Other friends including dancer Hunter Mullen seen below were great additions to this ensemble!


Photo by Michelle Mullen – Addams Family Ensemble

These high school productions are a great way to enjoy live theatre without spending too much money!

There were certainly other local shows, but my participation in rehearsals in Auburn prevented me from attending.  Central High School presented Shrek the Musical, Northside High offered Big Fish.  I’m really sorry to have missed those.  One middle school musical I did see was Lion King, Jr. at St. Luke School.  This was my second musical to watch at St. Luke, and I am telling you (not because I work there) that these shows are top notch.  Kimetha Eysel, Sandy LaRoy, and all the faculty and parents who help with make-up, costumes, and choreography are astounding.

lion king

Jackson Landreau as Scar (photo by Maria Holloway)

The students were well-prepared and did an awesome job; the only downside was the sometimes malfunctioning microphones.  However, even that couldn’t damper the overall experience; plus, it was a great lesson in improvisation – nice work Olivia Sharpe and others! The shows are performed in the St. Luke Ministry Center, a terrific venue, so look out next year as St. Luke will present Shrek, Jr.


Lion King Jr. Cast – Phoro St. Luke School

As mentioned previously, I had the pleasure to work with Auburn Area Community Theatre (AACT) for the first time in April/May.  I absolutely love the playwriting team of Jones, Wooten, and Hope, and was thrilled to be cast in The Red Velvet Cake War as Gaynelle Verdeen Bodean. AACT is a wonderful community theatre, well worth the drive from Columbus/Phenix City.  I had the most fun with the cast and crew of this show; I miss my Verdeen family!  We sold out a few nights, and according to the comments of audience goers including my family, the show was hilarious. The dialogue and actions were a laugh a minute! AACT performs in the Jan Dempsey Community Theatre in Auburn.  My husband did say the chairs weren’t very comfortable, but that was the only complaint.  It is a great intimate venue to watch live theatre.  No mics needed!


“Can my life get any worse?” Gaynelle Verdeen Bodean

I have written about New Horizon Community Theatre in West Point, GA several times in previous posts.  My family just loves it there.  The other kids and adults are fun-loving and so easy to work with, and my children keep going back for more.  In May, Noelle Reed directed another children’s show, Pioneer Drama’s version of Robin Hood. Who can take a short script of a familiar story and make it into something special? Noelle Reed and her cast and crew can.  She was assisted by Kitty Key, Cydney Landreau, and others who brought new life to the story of Robin and his band of Merry Men.  Follow them on Facebook or check coming soon events and auditions pages above for more information on upcoming auditions and performances, beginning with 13 the Musical with auditions in July.


The cast of Robin Hood New Horizon Theatre

Well, I guess that brings us to the current time and place where summer theatre activities abound with lots of camps and upcoming auditions.  Springer Theatre Academy is the most well-known of the offerings this summer with the most choice in terms of sessions (my two are there as I write), but they aren’t the only drama camps available in the area. Check out Family Theatre in Columbus, Active 8 at Columbus State, Red Door Theatre in Union Springs, AACT in Auburn, Drama Kids Columbus, and Opelika Theatre. Most can be found on Facebook. I will be updating the coming soon page to include camps within 30 miles of Columbus.  I promise your child will grow individually and develop more cooperative skills as well.  They won’t even know they are learning such beneficial lessons in life – Sign up for a summer camp soon!


‘Tis the Season

Local theatres are winding down their 2015-16 seasons, and preparing to announce new ones. The Springer Opera House is currently producing Sweeney Todd, with Cat in the Hat (March) Mother of Rain (April) and The Who’s Tommy (April/May) still to come. See below for their exciting new season announcement.  Family Theatre in Columbus, Georgia has a current show (Stone Soup), with two more in production, Tom Sawyer and The Last Rose of Innod.  New Horizon Community Theatre in West Point, GA has a show in production, Happy Days the Musical with performances in April, and one more show scheduled to end the season, Robin Hood, a children’s show with auditions in April and performances in May. Auburn Area Community Theatre also has a current show, Peter Pan the Musical, with one more to close out the season in May, The Red Velvet Cake Wars.  You’ll be hearing more about that one in the next blog, as I decided it was time to do a new show, and happily auditioned and was cast as Gaynelle Verdeen Bodean in this hilarious southern comedy. I can’t wait to get started portraying this woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Last Thursday, the Springer announed its 2016-17 season to excited patrons, and it is going to be thrilling with more big-name musical extravaganzas..  The Summer Company Class opens the season in the Dot, with the C.S. Lewis favorite The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Opening on the mainstage in September is Sister Act, followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in October, Route 66 in November. The Springer Christmas show this year will be Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and of course, the audience favorite A Tuna Christmas. Teachers will rejoice as education continues to be a focal point at the Springer, and John Steinbecks, Of Mice and Men is showcased in January with Lois Lowry’s The Giver scheduled in March, and another local connection production in March/April, Ace the Eugene Bullard Story.  Two more musicals round out the season: perennial favorite Grease on the Mainstage in March , and the inappropriately funny Avenue Q the Musical in April/May 2017.  This is one I am so looking forward to: I can’t wait to see how the live action/puppet production is going to work.  Prospective audience alert if you aren’t familiar with this show: don’t be fooled by the puppets and cute muppet voices, this is not a children’s show.  With characters like Lucy the Slut and songs such as “If You were Gay,” “The Internet is for Porn,” and “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” be forewarned. However, the show is so cleverly written, and hilariously inappropriate, most people will be sure to be entertained!

We Theatre Divas can’t wait to see what our other community theatres have planned for your new seasons.  Don’t forget to support your local high schools.  Like our Facebook page for the most current information as we often find out about shows right before opening night.  Brookstone School opens Legally Blonde the Musical next weekend (March 3-5), and Columbus High is performing Addams Family the Musical in April.  Central High School in Phenix City has Shrek the Musical in April, and Norhside High  is rehearsing its spring musical Big Fish.  Please keep us updated!!  Feel free to comment with your dates; we would love to help publicize them.

As always – Curtain Up Columbus! 2015-06-21_12.48.33

Though the book is better, this was really good!

IMG_20160123_115354I recently had the pleasure of attending the Preview night at the Springer Opera House of their latest production To Kill a Mockingbird.  Thank you to Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak for sponsoring this show, and for including the faculty and staff of St. Luke School in the invitation to be your guests for this event.  I must admit up front that I am a bit of a To Kill a Mockingbird fanatic (no, I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman and don’t plan to).  I taught ninth grade for five years, and varied class novels from time to time, but never wavered from this one.  In my opinion, it is the single best picture of American, particularly Southern life, with all of our hospitality, charm, and problems.  Each character represents a family member, neighbor, teacher, cousin, friend, outcast – someone we all know regardless of where we live.  It is a slice of life that we can still see, though thankfully without as many of the explosively racial injustices of days past.   Haven’t we all lived near a Radley, or mean Mrs. Dubose?  I know one of my own great aunts reminded me of Aunt Alexandra in the book.  And Teresa, my grandmother’s housekeeper when I was young, bears a resemblance to Calpurnia.  Unfortunately, the Atticus Finches of this world are few and far between, but I think we can see glimpses of him in some influential people in our lives.

One of the reasons I prefer the book over the movie is that important conflicts and characters are left out of the movie and theatrical versions to focus mainly on the issue of racial injustice with the unfair treatment of Tom Robinson.  I completely understand why the focus is on this part of the book especially when the movie was released in 1962, during the real struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.  However, if you have never read the novel, I strongly urge you to do so.  Not only is it a coming of age story of Scout and her brother Jem, but it also explores so many issues including gender inequality, stereotypes, poverty, abuse, drug addiction, prejudice and discrimination.  If you never studied the book in class, you may have difficulty feeling for Mayella Ewell even though her accusation is one of the causes of Robinson’s death.  But you learn through the description of her life that despite abject poverty, including an alcoholic father and seven siblings, she is a teenager who keeps a pot of red geraniums on her porch, and tries to maintain some tidiness around her home located next to the dump.  We also learn through Tom’s testimony that her father probably physically and sexually abused her.  So while I can never excuse her decision to accuse Tom, through the book, I can understand her by trying to “put on her shoes and walk around in them.”  That’s just one example – there are other characters and situations that don’t make it to the stage or big screen like the “foot-washing Baptists (Boo’s father was one) who think everything that’s a pleasure is a sin (including Maudie’s gardening), and that women are sinful by definition.”

This particular script is written by Christopher Sergel who adapted Harper Lee’s novel for the stage.  Though I love the movie, and especially Gregory Peck, Horton Foote’s screen play leaves out some of the important lessons to be learned.  I prefer this script produced in conjunction with Dramatic Publishing because we at least get to see Mrs. Dubose’s courage in her fight against morphine addiction.  It also shows that we can hate someone’s words and attitude, but not hate them, because most likely they have some redeeming qualities and their own problems to overcome.  The script also delves into some of Dill’s family problems with his mom and stepfather which was nice to see and was not in the movie.

I enjoyed that Ms. Maudie’s character (Lisa Cesnik) was also the narrator. She was great, by the way. This allowed the show to flow smoothly, and the sets were interchangeable so no need for black-outs and curtains.  Of course, this also sometimes left the audience unsure of when to applaud, but I’m sure that will work itself out.  The acting in this production was brilliant at times, especially Mark Kincaid as Atticus Finch.  I’m sure this iconic role can be difficult, even a little intimidating, but he played it with perfection.  The only thing missing was the lack of chemistry between Scout and Atticus, although this will probably improve with the run, but the reassuring scene between the two of them seemed awkward.  Bob Ewell (Larry McDonald) proved to be as nasty as his character in the book; someone you love to hate and hope you are nothing like.

Beth Reeves was great as Calpurnia, engaging and energetic. Though I must be honest and say that the character in this script was much more easygoing than the characterization presented by Harper Lee in her novel.  It may be that the playwright felt that comic relief was needed, and Calpurnia’s character was chosen to provide it.  It could have also been a director’s decision, but Harper Lee’s Calpurnia would have taken her big hand to those children for not minding her. She also taught Scout how to write in cursive by copying Bible verses, and corrected her behavior, paraphrasing, If you can’t act fittin’ to your guests, you can just eat in the kitchen.  Calpurnia felt that Scout’s comment to Walter Cunningham was embarrassing to him, “What in the Sam Hill are you doin’?”

The character of Sheriff Tate was portrayed by Jim Pharr. If you have read one of my posts before, you know that I think he is a wonderfully talented comedic actor.  Truly, I have to say now that he is also just as gifted in a serious role.  He made the role of Sheriff Tate come to life, especially in his ending monologue about Boo Radley.  Tom Robinson (Joshua McCoy) was also very believable.  Sarah Brackett plays Mayella Ewell, and her role, like Tom’s, revolves around the trial.  I thought she played it skillfully and emotionally.  Jem, Scout, and Dill are local students sharing their talent with the community.  They were each effective in their roles; however, the only issue I had is that Scout and Dill, especially, are supposed to be children, not teenagers. In the book, Scout is six years old at the beginning and nine at the end (in the movie she stays six), and Dill is about a year older but roughly the same size.  With a book and movie containing such popular, well-known characters, younger performers would be preferable in my opinion.

Overall, this was another fantastic show at the Springer Opera House.  It runs through January 31st, so take the opportunity to see it!  As a parent and teacher, I would advise readers to consider the maturity of your child before taking them to the show; however, I feel that middle school and up would benefit.  One of the great things about a live production, especially one rich in literary and American history, is the opportunity for discussion among parents and children and teachers and students.  I won’t retell the plot since most people are familiar with it. I always get emotional at the end hearing about Scout standing on Boo Radley’s porch and seeing things from his point of view.  Though the book references a character in one of Jem’s adventure stories, the play talks about Boo Radley at the end.  Scout says to Atticus that Boo wasn’t scary at all; instead, he was “real nice.”  Atticus replies, “Most people are, Scout, when you really see them.”

So I won’t read Go Set a Watchman because Harper Lee could have had it published at any time after the success of her first novel, and she didn’t. Atticus will remain one of the great American literary heroes for me: an intelligent, thoughtful, understanding, and loving father, lawyer, neighbor, legislator, and friend.  May this production of To Kill a Mockingbird help us to see each other with compassion and understanding and put ourselves in each other’s shoes, trying to see things from another’s point of view.  I bet we’ll “get along a lot better with folks” if we do.


Celebrating the 50th anniversary of TKAM in Monroeville, AL


Inside the Monroe County Courthouse. Photo of Brock Peters as Tom Robinson on defendant’s table


“Tomorrow Is a Latter Day”

The Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta is again hosting The Book of Mormon on yet another nationwide tour. Though I have listened to the cast recording numerous times with my teens, they always fast forward through several songs because they are afraid of offending me.  Actually, some of the language and songs are a bit offensive, so knowing that going in, will greatly enhance your experience. Someone actually left mid-performance, though I suppose it could have been a doctor on call rather than someone shocked by the lyrics of “Hasa Diga Eebowai.”  For readers who don’t know the meaning of those words, please look them up.  I can’t bring myself to write them here. (Yes, I realize that Karma is not a Christian belief, but I’m not risking it; plus, I was raised Catholic and my Granny would roll over in her grave).

My family and I attended the Sunday matinee over MLK weekend.  As always, these Broadway traveling shows are phenomenal.  Having been to a few Broadway performances in New York, and quite a few traveling performances throughout the Southeast, I can say these actors and musicians are equally talented.  The only difference may be in the sets since these shows have to travel with everything.


Welcome to the Fox!

Normally, I confine my posts to the performance itself or background information, but as a patron who drives in from Columbus, others who drive into the city for a show may benefit from some meal suggestions.  We arrived in Atlanta around 11:45 am and decided to have lunch at the Broadway Diner, a block from the Fox.  We were seated and were waited on right away; however, the food didn’t arrive until 12:30, and we stressed about getting finished before curtain at 1:00 pm.  The food was good, but if this is the regular service and you are limited on time, you may want to skip it.  We have eaten after shows at Baraonda, an Italian restaurant about two blocks down on the other side of the Fox. The food there was great (we had pizza and calzones), though it was crowded; an added bonus, though, is the good-looking Italian male waiters!

About the show, it was honestly very funny, very irreverently funny!  The story about young Mormon missionaries being assigned to Uganda, when one desperately desired to be located to Orlando, FL, is filled with humorous references to Mormon beliefs, as well as pop culture such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.  The story follows two main characters, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, as different as Darth Vader and Yoda.  As they struggle to bring Ugandans, with their many problems including AIDS and female mutilation, into the church, they learn that there’s more than one way to teach about their religion.  The songs are pretty amazing from the opening “Hello” and “Two by Two” to the reprise of “Hello” at the end. It’s not any wonder that this intelligent and witty musical won the Tony for Best Musical and is still on Broadway after five years.  One of my favorite songs is “You and Me (But Mostly Me),” which hopefully makes us think about ourselves and why getting the glory seems to be so important to us.  “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” is the result of Elder Price trying to escape to Orlando after struggling in Uganda.  Any religious person raised with any type of guilt will be able to identify (Insert your affiliation in the place of Mormon, i.e Spooky Catholic Purgatory Dream).  Other favorite numbers included “Turn It Off” with a cool tap number and quick change, and “Man Up” with references to Jesus “man-ing up” when he knew he was going to die.

The cast was filled with talented actors, including a female lead who more than held her own in this predominately male show. In this show Nabulungi was played by Charnette Batey. Her beautiful voice inspired the audience to dream about things out of reach.  This is a must-see show, even if it’s just to have something to contribute when the topic of Broadway comes up socially.  If you are worried about being offended, you may want to go the concession stand or restroom during “Joseph Smith, American Moses.” Also, cover your ears when the General shows up and says his name from time to time.  Other than that, prepare to laugh and be entertained.

On a final note, I have friends who are Mormons, and I certainly wouldn’t want to offend them by enjoying a musical which is filled with jokes at the expense of some of their beliefs.  However, apparently the Church of Latter-day Saints has a pretty good sense of humor themselves.  Smartly, they have embraced the popularity of the show, and used it as a vehicle for sharing information.  There were three pages of ads in the program with QR codes to information on the Book of Mormon and catch-phrases like “The Book is always better.”  Any religion that can laugh at itself is worthy of further investigation.

Check the travel dates for this tour, and book your seats! Also, immediately following this post will be one about the Springer Opera House and its presentation of To Kill a Mockingbird.  So Curtain Up Columbus (and Atlanta)!




Live Local Theatre

With the holiday season upon us, the Chattahoochee Valley has offered lots of great options for live performances.  Our family has attended three of them at three different venues in the last few weeks.  Actually two were the same title but different productions.  Community theatre has so much to offer, especially for young people who want to try their dramatic wings.

Two weeks ago, we traveled to West Point, GA for a performance of Best Christmas Pageant Ever at New Horizon Theatre.  The story of the Herman children learning the Christmas story from the Bible for the first time is meaningful, but also downright funny.  This show holds a special place for my family: between myself and our children, we have been in two productions of it and portrayed five different characters.  The 2009 show at Family Theatre brought me back to the joy of performing live, and the delight of joining my children on stage.

New Horizon’s show did not disappoint.  Directed by Noelle Reed, this show was a last minute addition to the season after the Gift of the Magi was cancelled, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the final result. We were especially happy to see some of the kids who were involved in Music Man Jr. in September.  A great venue, New Horizon is even better now with the addition of new (very comfortable) seating which was recently installed. Narrated by character Beth Bradley, played by Charlie Key, we are welcomed into the lives of the Bradleys and Herdmans and the church families of the community.  Charlie’s actual mother, Jennifer Key, portrays Grace Bradley who is thrust into the position of having to fill some very large shoes.

When the local church lady organizer extraordinaire Mrs. Armstrong breaks her leg, she can’t direct the Christmas pageant, and Grace Bradley takes her place expecting “the same old Christmas pageant, with the same old Mary and Joseph.”  However, Beth’s brother unwittingly tells Leroy Herdman about the refreshments at church, and the entire Herdman clan shows up at church, taking over the pageant.  Needless to say, chaos reigns at various rehearsals leading up to the pageant, including a particularly eventful dress rehearsal.  In the end, the Herdmans cause the church people to look at the Christmas story in a new way, with Mary and Joseph as refugees with no place to stay and with a baby on the way (particularly poignant in our current world circumstances). At the same time, the Herdmans learn about the birth of Jesus and the true spirit of giving during the Christmas season.

A few nights ago, I attended a different production of Best Christmas Pageant Ever, this time at Family Theatre in Columbus. I’m telling you this play is one you won’t mind seeing more than once a season.  I specifically went to see two of my St. Luke students (Amy Tucker who plays Alice Wendleken, and Kate Cartwright who plays Beth Bradley).  They both did a fabulous job.  It’s so fun to watch a student portray a character who is different in personality than her own and be so convincing in the process. Elizabeth Hilton was also great as Mrs. Bradley who has to be at once loving and supportive, while maintaining some semblance of order in the face of the drama brought on by the Herdmans.  Kudos to Leslie Cardwell (assisted by her daughter Sydney) who directed two casts of kids, many of whom were performing in their first show!  Family Theatre is always a great location where families can visit and even bring in a meal before the show.  Remember to call for reservations ahead of time and ask for a table if you plan to bring food.


Kate (Beth) and Amy (Alice) both in red with fans/friends from St. Luke

Finally, we rounded out our Christmas show list with Springer Opera House’s December production of Beauty and the Beast.  We can’t say enough about the costumes and scenery – just outstanding!  The set was one of the more elaborate I have seen on the Springer stage with rotating pieces and parts depicting both Belle’s French village and cottage, and the Beast’s enchanted castle.  The main characters were very talented (Andy Harvey as the Beast, and Sally Swanson as Belle).  As usual though, it is the character actors that steal the show.  Lumiere (Casey Ross) was incredible, and as usual, Jim Pharr’s comic performance, this time as Cogsworth was a joy.  Season tickets to Springer Opera House should top your Christmas list (maybe they have gift cards for this purpose?).  We are looking forward to my favorite book brought to life in January, To Kill a Mockingbird.

One upcoming event is scheduled for Tuesday, December 22nd – one night only event to benefit New Horizon Community Theatre – “Once Upon a December.“Live music and a variety of song and dance directed by Julia Langley to celebrate the Christmas season.


Rehearsal for “Once upon a December” 

I will en d with the recommendation to follow us on Facebook for more frequent updates on auditions and shows from Union Springs to West Point, all over the Chattahoochee Valley – with of course Columbus being central.  Support community theatre – Curtain Up Columbus!