'Sanders Family Christmas' at ABET

Article excerpt

Byline: TAMARA McCLARAN

The Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre will present the holiday musical comedy Sanders Family Christmas, a World War II-era story that involves gospel and bluegrass as well as Christmas music.

The show by Connie Ray, a sequel to Smoke on the Mountain, opens on Friday and runs through Dec. 20.

"This is a fun show with music all the way through from start to finish," said director Jack Barnard. "It's an upbeat show with some funny moments and some touching moments, too."

Barnard has appeared on- and off-stage in numerous roles at ABET since the community theater's second season. He has also directed and performed in shows at other area community theaters.

The Sanders Family Christmas story is set in a North Carolina Baptist Church in late December just weeks following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Sanders family gathers to sing at the church before son Dennis and many others are shipped off to World War II. The show features about two dozen Christmas songs along with a blend of gospel and bluegrass music.

"The family sings but also give witness," Barnard said. "Nearly everyone in the cast has a short monologue in the show. There is also a lot of patriotism in this show."

Randy Judy plays the lead role of Burl, the family patriarch. Judy is best known as a musician and co-director of the Jacksonville Beach-based Magnolia Music & Events, which produces the annual Magnolia Fest and Suwannee Spring Fest in Live Oak. Judy is the front man of Big Cosmo and the New Traditionals and co-host of The MagMusic Show, an Internet radio program.

This is Judy's third performance at ABET. He played Burl in ABET's original production of Smoke on the Mountain years ago and again in a revival. He also has performed at the Alhambra Dinner Theater, Theatre Jacksonville and in the local production of Majigeen. …