And from Pelzer, South Carolina...
Considering my Christmas Eve is actually celebrated in a log cabin with my bluegrass-loving family, performing in Mill Town Player’s Smoky Mtn. Christmas felt like second nature. Here’s a recap of three lessons I learned from rehearsing Christmas songs since October and bringing holiday joy to the great folks of Pelzer!
All Photos Used: Copyright 2019 Escobar Photography
1. The challenges of live theatre are easier to tackle when the cast is a family.
The marvelous set by Will Ragland lent itself for us to immediately feel immersed in a home, but the bonds offstage were created long before we stepped foot in our cabin. Without question, Tom and Tricia showered the cast members with prayers. Riley, Hiram, and Zeke shared their infectious joy. Brian and Julia encouraged nightly with a hug, fist pump, or pat on the back. Drew kept us laughing. Kelly is one of the best listening ears I know. Donna shared kindness in the form of M&Ms, and Kimberlee energetically pushed us to excellence. I won’t linger because this is one of those situations where if you know, you know, and this cast knows without question that we became a family on and offstage.
2. Performing with a live band has healing powers.
I looked forward every day to arriving at the theatre early to sit with the band while they warmed up together by playing the first 30 seconds of classic songs. This band could play it all from Brick House to Bennie and the Jets. These kind and talented band members never failed to cheer me up on a bad day. They each use their gift of music to uplift those around them. Through their instruments, prayers, and friendship, they touched my heart in a way I can’t articulate. Oh and if you haven’t already heard, they can play the HECK out of some bluegrass.
3. When one has the opportunity to intertwine their spirituality with their craft, something immensely powerful occurs.
I do not take it lightly that I have the privilege to sing religious Christmas songs freely in this country. My spirit was restored nightly as the audience joined me in singing O Come All Ye Faithful. I’m certainly not always faithful, joyful, and triumphant in my walk with the Lord, but He reminded me of that calling nightly through this show. I also had the honor of singing my grandmother Eleanor’s favorite hymn Silent Night with two other divinely-created and spiritually led artists. My favorite moment of the show however was a moment out of the spotlight, in which I simply listened to my all-time favorite Christmas song and prayed over sweet Riley in my lap. Julia and Brian sang The Angels Cried, and this poignant line always has (and nightly) gripped my heart. “The angels knew what was to come, the reason God had sent his son from up above”. The Earthly life of Jesus began in a wooden manger and ended on a wooden cross where He fulfilled His purpose on Earth to die for our sins. I don’t share His unspeakable sacrifice as often as I should, but I will not miss the opportunity to write it here when led. If you’re reading this, no matter your background, sexuality, or relationship with the American church, you’re loved and included in those Jesus gave His life for.
I’m thankful Smoky Mountain Christmas gave me these three truths, gifted me with lifelong friendships, and allowed us to bring smiles to our audiences. If you couldn’t catch this popular show, just know the highlight was filling in the words to Alabama's Christmas in Dixie with “And from Pelzer, South Carolina- Merry Christmas tonight.” The crowd went crazy every night without fail. I hope your Christmas celebrations brought you the same “Yeehaw!” inducing joy. Merry Christmas tonight, my friends.
Copyright 2019 Escobar Photography