With Christmas Season Over, There’s Singing in the Trailer Park

Twenty oh nine ended on a high note in Murfreesboro stage theater, with Center for the Arts packing the house for three weekends with “Sanders Family Christmas,” my bows to David Cummings and the wonderful cast who lit up the Center stage for a great holiday extravaganza. We need more of the Sanders family in months to come to strike a positive note in that venue.

Accolades and three cheers to Murfreesboro Little Theatre, who also for three weekends put on a most realistic showing of “The 1940’s Radio Hour.” Also packing the house with holiday cheer, student director Carl Glenn, who, under the guidance of Wayman Price, put together an awesome array of actors, singers, dancers, and instrumentalists, and for almost two hours, one would have actually thought they were in a radio studio in December 1943.

With an almost perfect opening night, the timing looked good, but the blocking was a bit haphazard, then again perhaps it was supposed to be with the slapstick/vaudeville type shenanigans that were going on in this studio.

The casting was a who’s who in Murfreesboro theatre circles, with Tim Smith as Johnny Cantone (incredible singer, even more incredible drunk), Kathy Quarto as Ann Collier with a beautiful rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” Emily Lowery as Ginger Brooks (I will never look at an Eskimo Pie the same way again), Sherry Sunday as Geneva Lee Browne, with “I Got It Bad,” (oh Sherry, I got it good!), Shane Lowery as Neal Tilden (Shane, the pants dropping scenes were priceless), Gary Parker as Lou Cohn, who did an excellent job as the studio manager, Caleb Peterson as Wally Ferguson, the gopher boy who became the wonderfully obnoxious personality with the innocent charm (good work), Jerry Bailey as Pops Bailey, (Jerry, all you have to do is sit at a table and answer the phone, and you STILL are an incredible actor), Danielle Araujo as Connie Miller, and Tyler Tsoumbos as B.J. Gibson, what sensational voices, and Wayman Price himself as station owner Clifton A. Feddington, filling in for Bob Fish, who took ill during rehearsals. It’s outstanding the way Mr. Price can step in at the last minute, and as expected, do the job required. With Charlie Prazak and Charlie Parker being marvelous on the instrumentals. (I left out Caleb Marshall, as Biff Baker, on purpose—see a longer feature on him below.)

The tech crew in this production had to be on their toes, and they were. The lighting, sound, costumes, all impeccable. Audiences only expect the best out of MLT, and they got it with the last show of 2009. And yes, Wayman, I bought bonds.

I find myself now going to the local high schools and watching some fine theatre. Obviously there are some kids on stage who should stick with athletics or the glee club, but for the most part these young actors are in it for the intensity, fun and experience, not the grade. Siegel High School’s production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” on Dec. 7 was a very enjoyable show. Johnny Depp and Gene Wilder would have been proud of John Underwood, an incredible Willy Wonka, and Forrest Arnold was great as Charlie Bucket. Too short a time on stage, but awesome as well, was Matt Sutherland as the rotund chocolate connoisseur Augustus Gloop. My bows to all 20 of the cast of this terrific show, especially the five Oompa-Loompas, who I enjoyed watching as well. Great lighting, sound and costumes. I cannot wait for Siegel’s Spring production this year. Congrats to the student directors, Dylan Young and Emily Steinhilber.

Steve Luster as Norbert and Deanna Payne as Pippi in "The Great American Trailer Park Musical"

Steve Luster as Norbert and Deanna Payne as Pippi in "The Great American Trailer Park Musical"

Beginning Jan. 8, there will be three fun-filled weekends at Murfreesboro Little Theatre, with the opening of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” Produced by Out Front Productions, and being directed by none other than George W. Manus Jr., he again has picked some choice trailer trash (omg, pun intended!) for this hilarious piece of work. Starring Sean Dixon, Steven Luster and Deanna Payne, this show should not be missed by any self-loving, gun-totin’, 3 pack-a-day, Southern redneck. So join the White Bay Freddie Band and Morris Hamby and myself, drive on in to Armadillo Acres, and let’s have a good time on Friday or Saturday nights at 7 p.m., or Sundays at 2 p.m., and, uh, watch your mouth. Visit mltarts.com for reservations.

MTSU’s Tucker Theatre will be showing “Ladybug” by Josh Ginsburg at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, 29 and 30, a chance to see another great student production at the Boutwell Dramatic Arts Building.

Auditions for “How I Learned to Drive” will be at MLT on Jan. 18-19, from 6-8 p.m. They are needing two males and three females over 18 to cast. Shane Lowery is directing. Nothing going on this month at Lamplighter’s, Patterson Park or the Center for the Arts.

See ya at the show!


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