The Cowboy Christmas Radio Hour
By Jeff Campbell / Jeff In Jefferson
When I first learned that the Excelsior House Players were not having a Christmas play this year, it was very sad. The Excelsior House plays are one of the highlights of the Christmas season’s first two weekends. Last Year’s “Miracle on 34th Street” was as good or better than anything a theatre patron would see on Broadway. My first thought was what can the Office of Tourism Development do to bring a Christmas show to Jefferson?
The first challenge was finding open dates at the Transportation & Visitor Center. The popularity of the sliding scale, rental rates had not left many open dates. The Order of the Eastern Star had booked the building for November 30th & December 1st and the JHS Strutters were hosting their “Stuff Your Stocking” fundraiser on December 8th. This left December 7th as the only date to host a Christmas show.
The second challenge was who would perform a Christmas show? Back in the summer Cowboy Poet Derek Duncan, who performed at the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Theatre Festival, and his father James Duncan, executive at KMHT Radio and Pastor of Hickory Hill Baptist Church, had expressed interest in putting together a Christmas show. They felt they had all of the components but needed someone to direct rehearsals and bring it all together. We both knew Sarah Whitaker, of the Sanctuary Players and Director of the hugely successful “Red Velvet Cake Wars”, so we asked if she would be interested.
Within a short time frame and with just a few rehearsals, the Sanctuary Players, the Duncan Family and Hickory Hills Baptist Church were able to bring Jefferson an entertaining and moving show that emphasized the true meaning of Christmas. A crowd of over 50 patrons enjoyed the radio humor of James Duncan, the poems of Derek Duncan, the songs of Teonna Hall and the pickin’ of Larry Watson and J.E. Watson.
Thanks to the efforts of the Duncans, the musicians, Sarah Whitaker, the Sanctuary Players and Jamie Horton of KMHT [sound engineer] Jefferson had an entertaining Christmas show. Hopefully it enhanced the visitor’s experience of the second weekend of the Candlelight Tour of Homes and will become an annual event. It is also gratifying that the show was able to raise money for the Hickory Hill Baptist Church.
Photos by Jeff Campbell