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Troupe has holiday gift for community
'Best Christmas Pageant Ever' tonight, Saturday
pageant 3
Grace Bradley, played by Elizabeth Toney, tells Imogene Herdman, played by Mary Doane, the proper way to hold “Baby Jesus.” - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The Liberty Theatre Company is offering a modern holiday classic, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!” this weekend. The family-friendly play is suitable for all ages.
Angela Everson, who directs the production, is excited about staging the play.
“We’re a brand new theater company. This is our second production,” Everson said. “’The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!’ was a play that was written in the 1970s. Barbara Robinson wrote the book. It was made into a TV movie in the 1980s. I remember watching it when I was growing up.”
The play’s director said the 25-person cast includes about 18 youngsters. Along with humor, the production presents holiday music in single choruses.
“There’s a group of six children. They’re kind of rag-a-muffin and bully their way into a Christmas pageant in this little town. By the end of the play everyone changes. It’s a really touching story,” Everson said.
Elizabeth Toney, who plays Grace Bradley the reticent pageant director, has a theater education background.
“I was a theater major in college and I’m a certified theater teacher,” Toney said.
She is employed as a special education teacher by the Liberty County School System. The young educator didn’t know many people when she moved to the area a year ago.
“I thought this (LTC) would be a good way to meet people and get involved in the community,” Toney said.
The teacher-turned-actress said the pageant is a good way to involve children in theater, as participants and audience members.
“It’s a new take on the traditional Christmas pageant, so it’s a fun way to present it.”
Autumn Dayutis, who plays Beth Bradley and serves as the narrator, will celebrate her 12th birthday on the play’s opening night. The Lewis-Frazier Middle School sixth-grader said she is new to the stage.
“I was in ballet recitals, but that doesn’t count,” Dayutis said. “And I’ve done plays for church.”
The young actress said she likes acting.
“It’s fun,” Dayutis said.
Vicki Davis, who serves on the Hinesville Area Arts Council Board, is helping to produce LTC’s holiday fare. LTC comes under the umbrella of the Hinesville Area Arts Council.
“We (LTC) just formed in February of this year,” Davis said. “We had so much overwhelming interest and involvement with several educated directors stepping forward.”
The troupe produced two one-act plays last spring, she said.
“We think it’s successful to have three performances in Liberty Theatre Company’s first year of inception.”
Davis said the community theater plans to produce “Vanities” in February.
“We are operating as a component of the Hinesville Arts Council,” she said. “We’re in the process of creating a formal unit. We have a core group of about 10 people. Some LTC directors are certified drama teachers or were involved in community theater or professional theater. Some have experience as choreographers. Our goal is to provide a variety of theater offerings, meaning plays and musicals.”
Davis added the theater group wants to target both adult and children audiences, as well as have participants of all ages.
“We try to have something for everybody,” she said.
Davis said the company has two primary challenges: to serve a transient community and to find a permanent performance venue.
The theater group would like to have the participation and support of the area’s military families, she said. Also, the company may aim to build or locate a permanent theater home in the near future.
“Our local churches have been very generous in allowing us to rehearse in their locations,” Davis said.
The First United Methodist Church of Hinesville provided LTC meeting and performance space last spring, and the First Baptist Church of Hinesville has provided the group rehearsal space for their Christmas play, she said.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward royalties, costume fees and use of the facility, Everson said.
The show will be performed at 7 tonight and at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Snelson-Golden Middle School auditorium. The school is located at 465 Coates Road in Hinesville.
Tickets cost $5 per person and are available at Uncommon Grounds, Farmers Natural Foods and the Old Liberty County Jail Museum.
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