Tag Archives: sct

Sanders Family Christmas Opening Night


I mentioned that I was in a new show, but I haven’t written about it. So what better way to talk about it than on opening night! Sanders Family Christmas is the sequel to Smoke on the Mountain, the play we did in May ’06 and took to the Mississippi Theatre Festival in January ’07 and pretty much swept the awards. We have the entire competition cast back, except one (we miss you, Bruce) to reprise their roles. The “new guy” Drew has jumped right in and we are excited to open tonight.

We are doing 12 performances of the show and almost the entire run is sold out. There are some seats left, so if you want to come, call 662-323-6855 to reserve your seats. We run everyday except Monday starting today the 6th through the 16th. There are two shows each Saturday and only matinées on Sundays.

I enjoy playing Dennis and it has been great to be back with the rest of the Sanders family. I’ve had to work harder on the music this go around because it is more difficult and complex than the first show.

I struggled with playing Dennis during the initial run of Smoke on the Mountain. Many times I did not feel as connected to the character as I wanted to be. By the time we started rehearsing for the festival, I felt more at home being Dennis than I ever had. I’m glad to say that that feeling has carried over to the new show.

I think we have a great show on our hands and I can’t wait for audiences to see it. Y’all come now, ya hear?

SETC Recap

I was in Atlanta from Wednesday through Sunday. We had a blast. I saw a lot of good theatre. I’m still mostly theatre illiterate and I really enjoy any opportunity to see good theatre. With the best community theatre shows from 7 other states in attendance, I was in for a treat.

The first one I saw was Tennessee’s Escanaba In Da Moonlight by Jeff Daniels. It was hilarious. The set was great and these southern actors had the upper Michigan accent nailed. I thought I was gonna die during the slow motion fart.

I also saw a broadway caliber show from the Manatee Players out of Florida. They did a version of Sweeney Todd that was amazing. I wish I had been a little more familiar with the show, since it had to be cut to no more than 60 minutes in length. But regardless, the poor stage at Spelman college just wasn’t big enough for this production. Apparently, they have something like a $900,000 a year budget. And they are building a 12 million dollar facility. I wish I could say that they bought a win, but aside from a few technical snafus, this show was smooth and the cast was outstanding.

These two shows won and will continue to nationals. There were other smaller, simpler shows that were still very strong. At MTA, I would have been shocked if we had not won. I imagine this comes from my inexperience of attending MTA and not coming away disappointed or upset for the last 20 years. I don’t mean to sound like a cocky jackass, but we had a really good show and I saw all the rest, and while good, they just weren’t quite as tight as ours. But at SETC, out of seven shows that were our competition, I could only say with confidence that I thought we were better than one show.

With all that said, we came in runner-up, which is 3rd place. If one of the other two shows drops out, we would go in their place. Best of luck to Tennessee and Florida, bring it home to the south. Yeehaw! Also, two of my friends and castmates won Outstanding Performance: Madeline Golden (Vera) and Krista Vowell (June). The awards were well deserved. One adjudicator told Madeline that she was the best Vera he’d ever seen. He also told Marcus Vowell that his Stanley was the strongest he’d seen. Another adjudicator told Krista that if he ever wanted to know how to feel about what was going on at that point in the show, he would look to June since she embodied the spirit of each moment. Starkville’s got mad talent, yo!

Otherwise, I ate a lot, managed to swing one ball game at the SEC Championship (where my Bulldogs lost), saw Andie MacDowell, went to an improv jam and hung out with my wifey and my SCT family. It was a great time.

Starkville Cleans Up At MTA

Best Actor - MTAThe Mississippi Theatre Association festival/competition was this weekend. Starkville Community Theatre took Smoke on the Mountain. This is the show we did last season. It was a smash: 14 sold out performances. The play selection committe decided to resurrect the show for competition, so I got to dust off the overalls and play Dennis again. I was really excited about the prospect of getting the Sanders family back together.

We had to recast one part due to the previous actor moving to another state. Anyway, let me just get to the results and I’ll give my thoughts afterwards.

All Star Cast Member, Marcus Vowell
Best Supporting Actor, Bruce Lesley
Best Actor, Kary Rogers
Best Actress, Madeline Golden
Best Director, Pattye Archer
Overall Technical Excellence
Warren McDaniel Award for the Best Production. As the recipient of the Best Production award, SCT will represent the State of Mississippi at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in March 2007 in Atlanta.

Like I said, we cleaned up. This is the first time in 20 years that SCT has won. For my first go at competitive theatre at MTA, I’d say it went pretty well.

We knew we had a good show but we had no idea that we’d walk away with so many honors. We’re all terribly excited. Excited doesn’t even really begin to describe it.

First: the show. We had 30 minutes on the stage for rehearsal. We spent almost 20 minutes of that trying to figure out why the keyboard wasn’t working. We mocked up a keyboard to look like an old piano since that would be easier than transporting a real piano. It ended up being a bad patch cable but it was a very scary 20 minutes. We had time to spike the set and sing one song.

Now this theatre is literally 13.5 times larger than ours and we really didn’t have time to do a proper sound check. So we left the rehearsal without feeling very confident about how it would all come together in this cavernous new space.

After waiting forever for the speaker for the evening to finish, we took the stage. We had 10 minutes to set the stage, 60 minutes to perform and 10 minutes to strike. During setup the guitars fell and had to be retuned. We decided the demons of Ole Miss were after us so we had to cast them out (in the name of Jesus, amen).

The show went great. We all felt good about it. Comments from the adjudicators ranged from “great chemistry within the emsemble” to “I saw Sweeney Todd where the actors have to sing and play their own instruments. This was better.”

Now I had no expectations to be singled out, I stepped on the stage for the first time less than two years ago. I felt that my peformance was solid and if I was recognized at all, I might land an All Star Cast. Well, I didn’t. Another performer from another group said he loved my performace and that he’d cry if I didn’t win best supporting actor. I was flattered but dismissed it.

When I wasn’t announced as All Star Cast, I was honestly like “oh well, but not unexpected.” Then I recalled what the other guy had said to me and thought that my role was a supporting role, so technically I’d qualify for Supporting Actor, but Best? Nah. I left the idea run through my mind for an instant but was not surprised or disappointed when my name wasn’t called. Bruce Lesley’s name was called and I could not have been happier. He deserved it.

I leaned over to M during the applause and excitment for Bruce to joke how that guy must be crying since I didn’t win. Then I heard my name. I literally had no idea why they called it. I looked at M and said “Why’d they call my name?” Did I leave my lights on in the parking lot or something? She said “Best Actor!” Wha?!

Later I had many people tell me the look on my face was priceless. My winning Best Actor had not entered the realm of possibility in my head. Winning the biggest acting award at the biggest state festival made my mouth hang open. This is nice validation considering how I felt on opening night back in May and my last experience on stage knowing there were judges in the audience.

So now we get some time off and then refocus to go represent Mississippi at SETC in Atlanta. Go Sanders family!

Rehearsals and a new project

So I’m back in rehearsals. What? you say? School is over for the semester and SCT is currently doing an all women show, what could you be possibly be doing?

SCT decided to take Smoke on the Mountain to the Mississippi Theatre Association competition/festival in January, so I get to reprise my role as Dennis, the shy, singing, preacher boy. The role is a lot of fun but we have to cut an almost two hour show down to 60 minutes. It’s tough but we’ll get it done. This is my first time to perform at MTA. I did my first show that was judged this semester and it affected me more than I’d like to admit.

Theatre MSU performed The Madwoman of Chaillot for the regional American College Theatre Festival. For the first 10 to 15 minutes I just couldn’t get out of my head. It really pissed me off because I felt great leading up to curtain time. I really thought I would feel my best yet on stage, but for the first little while any thoughts of giving my best performance went right out the window. Knowing that there were people out there taking notes and judging the show and my performance really affected me more than I thought it would. I finally settled down and finished solid but being on stage and in your head blows.

So I’m hoping I got that experience out of the way when we go to MTA. I don’t care if I don’t get noticed or mentioned by the adjudcators, I just want to be in the moment.

Other things…I have a new project on the horizon. For the first time since starting an online presence, I’m going to commit to putting out content on a regular schedule. Be looking for an annoucement of this new endeavor soon.

Hey, have a great weekend. I’ll talkatcha soon.

Madwoman Opens Thursday

madwoman.jpgThe latest production from Theatre MSU, The Madwoman of Chaillot, opens Thursday night. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm.

It would be jolly good of you to come and see it. I am playing the role of The President. It has been lots of fun putting the show together. Hopefully that will translate into a fun show to watch. There are a lot of talented kids in the show and I’ve enjoyed meeting and working with them. Of course, I’m the old fart of the group.

It’s weird to only have three performances when I’m used to doing around nine with shows at SCT. We will also perform at a college theatre festival competition thing at the beginning of November and I’m excited about that.

Be looking for a video about my recent trip to Six Flags in the near future. With near being defined as possibly next week since I’m doing a show this week. We’ll see. Love You!

One Song Glory, Two Song Sublimity

one02.jpgYeah so Monday and Tuesday are auditions for the SCT summer musical. I’m looking forward to getting started, I’m already bored sitting on the couch and tappy tappin’ on the computer and watching TV. I can’t fathom a whole summer of this.

Last year I sang Younger Than Springtime from South Pacific which I hadn’t ever heard before. Twice. ‘Cause I didn’t know that most people sing two different songs, one of each night.

Well this year I got two songs lined up to try out. I’m meeting with my friend D, who helped me find a song last year, on Saturday. So I hope the songs I have picked out will suit me ’cause there won’t be time to find anything else.

I’m slighly worried cause the style of the songs is not what I’m used to doing. They’re more rock and I’ve always considered myself more of a crooner. Also the range is kinda high for me. So we’ll see how it works out on Saturday. Both songs are from RENT.

In other news. There’s been some, kinda big and like wow. I’ll leave it for another day.

It goes up this week

smokemtnWhat do you mean “it?” IT! The show! Sheesh.

We ran the show for the first time last night. We also had our first mini-audience and if their reaction and laughter-reddened faces are any indication let me say that you will not want to miss this show. It will be a HOOT.

The music’s good, the comedy’s good, heck, it’s all good. I like pickles, but by the end of this show I may not anymore. Make your reservations to find out what I mean.

662-323-6855 or email

To reserve a seat, please call the box office at 662-323-6855 and leave your name and phone number, the number of seats you would like to reserve, the performance date you would like to attend, and – if you know – the row and seat numbers you would like. Someone will call you back to confirm your request.

Smoke on the Mountain features the talented cast of Madeline Golden, Kevin Kern, Bruce Lesley, Kary Rogers, Paul Ruff, Krista Vowell and Molly Watkins.

Show dates:

Thursday, April 20
Friday, April 21
Friday, April 28
Saturday, April 29
Sunday, April 30
Tuesday, May 2
Wednesday, May 3
Thursday, May 4
Friday, May 5
Saturday, May 6

From Samuel French:
The year is 1938. It’s Saturday night in Mount Pleasant, NC, and the Reverend Oglethorpe has invited the Sanders Family Singers to provide an upliftin’ evening of singin’ and witnessin’. The audience is invited to pull up a pew and join in the rollicking good time. More than two dozen songs, many of them vintage pop hymns, and hilarious stories from the more or less devout Sanders provide a richly entertaining evening that has audiences clapping, singing, laughing and cheering.

Totally beguiling … foot stomping soul food.“– N.Y. Post.

Wildly funny…. So well written that I found myself laughing, rooting for the family, and singing along and clapping with the rest of the audience.“– Trentonian.

A sophisticated audience went simply wild.“– Philadelphia Daily News.

A charming and funny celebration of Americana.“—N.Y. Times.


smokemtnI can’t remember if I ever mentioned this, but I got cast in the next SCT show. I was totally sick and drained during auditions but I apparently I did well enough. Here’s how it went down.

We had to sing a song and do readings from the script. There were 20-something people that auditioned and they were seven parts to fill, three female and four male. I figured there was only one part that I had a chance at being cast in due to the ages of the other parts and I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to get it due to the talent at the auditions. And I was right, I didn’t get the part of the late-twenties preacher, I got the part of the 17 year old twin.

Turns out the director didn’t stick real close to what the script said about ages, and that’s fine with me!

The play is Smoke on the Mountain. It’s a musical comedy set during the 1930’s in a Baptist church for a Saturday night singing. The preacher has hired the Sanders family, who are a traveling gospel group. I’m Dennis, one of the twins. Denise (Molly Watkins) is my twin sister. There’s Burl (Paul Ruff) – the father, Vera (Madeline Golden) – his wife, Stanley (Kevin P. Kern) – his brother and June (Krista Vowell) – the other daughter. Bruce Lesley is playing Pastor Oglethorpe. Pattye Archer is the director, she directed the summer musical revue that was so much fun last year. Alison Stamps is the AD.

We started rehearsals this week and have music bootcamp this weekend. I have to play the upright bass, guitar, banjo and piano. This is going to be a great show to be a part of and I’m very excited. When it gets closer to opening night, I’ll post the dates so you can make your ticket reservations.

This is it. Probably. But I really doubt it.

If you read this site with any regularity then you know why I haven’t been updating much. And I think this will be the final word on the musical revue I have spent the last month rehearsing and performing and which was my introductory experience into the theater.

Warning. This will quite possibly be insanely long and boring.

I was bitten by the hey-you-lazy-slob-sitting-on-the-couch-why-don’t-you-get-up-and-go-do-something-fun bug some number of months ago. In my case it was the acting/performing species of bug. I called my doctor about the bite and he said there was no medication I could take; I could only heed the bug’s bite and do what it wanted. What a quack, he doesn’t know anything is what I thought.

I attempted to find my own cure and I tried everything but nothing really scratched the itch just right. I started this blog and that helped but it didn’t cure me. I went knocking screen door to screen door in my trailer park reading Shakespeare to whom ever would open their door to me, but all that got me was a ferret bite, two empty Jack bottles thrown at my head and me being blinded by seeing too many femullets with nothing on but a bra-less wife beater. *whimper*

I apologize for that last link.

Eventually I called up my friend B. to ask what was going on at the local community theater. I found out they were having auditions for a summer musical revue in like 4 days. Well that leaves me lots of time to find a song and prepare I thought (sarcastically). Especially since I’ve never sung a solo in front of people before and never had a singing audition before or been on stage for that matter. But I was determined to give it a go and find out if I could do it or not. I covered the audition here and here.

The last weekend of June we had a “bootcamp.” We ran through as many of the songs as we could to get a feel for what worked, what might work given more effort and time and what absolutely didn’t work at all. Rehearsals started in earnest on July 5th (I thinks). In general we met Sunday through Thursday evenings with a set construction work day on Saturday. That’s a lot of rehearsal time you might think but keep in mind our first performance would be July 28th. And there were piles of music to learn.

Well, anyway, I showed up to rehearsals like a good little soldier and sat quietly in my seat and sang my little heart out. I get the impression now that everyone was afraid I was really shy and was worried how I might do on stage since I never opened my mouth during rehearsals except to sing.

I’ll admit it takes me a little while to open up to new people. Some people just don’t get me and my brand of humor and personality so I’m usually a little shy and quiet at first. Actually I probably opened up a lot sooner to the theater people because of this blog. Somehow someone found out about it. I think I had it in my email signature for a very short period of time, like half a day. And I corresponded with someone in the theater via email. And let’s just say it made the rounds. And I was found out. Oh, apparently the new guy does have one of those personality things. After the Amazing and Totally Awesome Sound EFX post, there was really little point in me holding back any longer.

This also happened to correspond to the time we started actually getting on stage and working out the blocking. It suddenly became a whole lot more fun for me. See, sitting in a chair for hours on end working on music didn’t prepare me for the experience on being on the stage. I’ve sat in a chair for hours on end working on music before, that’s nothing new. But being on stage, oh baby, that was new.

Now I’ve performed in some way or another my whole life . Church choir, school concert and marching band and other singing groups, but this was completely different. I wasn’t another faceless kid with a horn to my face or stuck out of the way in an orchestra pit or part of the backup singers for the music leader. I was on a stage with really bright lights and I was in your face to either suck or stand out.

And I don’t like to suck.

Soon I started hearing things like “applause whore” associated with my name. Well I was offended. I was just trying to do a good job and show that I’m having a good time. Then I found out that being called an applause whore isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Well maybe we should come up with a new name. I nearly cried myself to sleep that night. Not really, but it was a bit alarming at first. I think it’s a compliment of some sort.

Meanwhile, I’m starting to get to know the people that I’m performing with and find that they really are a friendly, cool buncha folks to be around; they were just waiting on me to open up so that they didn’t seem pushy. They are all friendly, helpful, complimentary, encouraging, patient, cool, beautiful people that I am a better person for knowing. If you are an SCT person reading this, then I mean YOU. I am talking about you. Are all theater people this cool or did I just luck out on my first go at it?

My biggest regret in all of this is that I DIDN’T JOIN SCT SOONER. I’ve spent years sitting on the couch when I could have been helping to create a new and exciting show and hanging out with terribly cool friends. These people are everyone. Doctors, financial professionals, technology geeks, educators, home makers, media professionals, etc etc etc. Yet they all have a love of coming together to create something greater than themselves and they do it beautifully. I have been honored and privileged to be a part of it. And dang it, I want to do it again.

Like I said, I’ve never been on stage before but I found out something through this experience. I am completely comfortable there. I don’t get really nervous. Sometimes, I might be over-the-top but it’s because I want to do things that I think are funny or awesome and I hope the audience would think so too. Is doing a James Brown kick-slide-split over-the-top for a curtain call? Probably so, but dang it I would think it was cool if I saw somebody do it. I didn’t plan on it, if anything I was going to do it during Footloose but I chickened out. The spirit just moved me and it had to be done right then.

Ok, this could go on forever so I really should wrap it up. Just a couple more things before the summary.

You know, it’s not that hard to learn some music and where to stand when, but putting all the small details together to make an impressive show is something that I can’t fathom doing. And Pattye Archer, the Director, pulled it off with aplomb. How does she do it? I don’t know. She has help, but wowzer did she put on a great show. Thanks Pattye, the show was great and so are you!

To all the SCT cast and crew: Thank You. From the booth peeps (Ty, Chad, Dave, Michael) always hitting their lighting and sound cues, to the stage managers (Ellen and Alison) having us all straight back stage so we knew what the heck was going on, to the musicians (Becky, James, Boogie Daddy) for learning a jaw-dropping amount of music and making us sound good, to the box office and reception volunteers for all the work and cooking they did, to Jansen for everyone’s fab hair (especially mine) and to the cast:

M.J. – You are terribly cool and talented. Teach me everything you know!
Cherri – I love your voice, it’s so classic.
Maddy – I’ve so much enjoyed being your stalkee, I can’t wait to see you in the next show. Maybe you’ll be the stalkee this time!
Tess – You are very funny and interesting. Thanks for being my Cleopatra.
Brian – We’ve known each other a long time and have done a lot of things together, I’m glad to add this chapter to our friendship.
Casey – Fellow newbie and applause whore! You are so fun and talented, I hope to see you in future shows.
Thomas – My sister. Your skills range all over the theater, I have a lot to learn from you.
Michael – A man of serious talent. It was a blast, thanks for the tips and I’ll share my Gold Bond with you anytime.
Bonnie – I’m still amazed at how fast you can get all the way around the building and back on stage. You were great!
Cindy – You have a lovely voice. I had fun singin’ in the rain with you.
Paul – You played so many great roles in the show. It was fun watching you. It’s obvious you have many friends who love you at the theater and I can see why.
Lyle – Outstanding voice and character abilities. Terribly friendly and supportive. I hope to learn a lot at your side on stage in the future.
Kyle – My secret pal. You were fabulous and I hope to see you on the stage again.
Marianne – Beautiful, talented, a little crazy (in a totally good way). And so much more.
Andrew – Very entertaining on the stage and backstage. You never knew what he might do. And I’ll try not to kill you with the back door anymore.
Molly – My Elvis dancing partner. The Pretzel just can’t be beat. Thanks for including me and being so friendly.
Krista – The trophy girl. And I totally made out with her. Well not really but it was close. You were so enjoyable to watch on You Lost That Loving Feeling. Your expressions were priceless.
Marcus – The trophy girl’s man. I did not make out with him, at least not that I can remember. Dude you have serious acting skills. Your impressions and accents are sweet.

And last but not least:

My wife – Thanks for being patient with me as I was out playing with the other kids. I had a lot of fun but I came home late many nights. Next year you’ll have to join me! I love you!

Whew, if you made it this far, I’m sorry but don’t you have better things to do?

Executive Summary: I was bitten by a bug that required me to sing and dance in front of really bright lights. In doing so, I met scores of very cool and talented people that I hope to stand in front of really bright lights with again. I wish I would’ve done it sooner and if you didn’t come to the show you have no idea what you missed, which is good because if you knew what you missed you would cry for 40 days and 40 nights.

I will post some pictures when they are available to me.

Weekly Update

Sad, I know. A weekly update. Pathetic.

Ah well. Next week we’ll return to your usual programming here at IMKH. Why? Because the show will be over. Done. Fin. And it’s kinda sad.

I’ve had very little time to sit on my couch and think of new useless and silly things to write about in the last few weeks. Why? Because I’ve been hanging out with the totally awesome people at the Starkville Community Theater almost every night. I’ll post about that later.

The hair is holding up well. I’ve invested (and I do mean invested) in the tiniest little flat iron you’ve ever seen. It allows me to have punk-rock hair everyday! My parents will see my hair tonight for the first time since I straightened it as they are driving up for the show. I wonder how they’ll react. I’ve had the curly hair for a really long time, like, my whole life and they’re the ones that gave it to me. I’ll report back on the parents’ opinion.

Since my parents are visiting this week, we went into panic cleaning mode. We went so far as to rip up the carpet in the living room and hallway area to replace it with laminate flooring. We have cats, you see, (and a dog) and the carpet had reached its limit in terms of wear in only three short years. And it was nasty. So we proceeded to replace it. Ourselves. Three days of work. I had to take off Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon just to get it all done. But it came out nice. I might post some pics of the process later.

I’ve got a couple ideas for posts to work out next week and I haven’t forgotten about the new instructional video.

Gotta get the ice beam to beat Mother Brain, Yo.