Excerpt: 'Christy' a musical 'where God is hero,' playwright says

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NukeCity

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Jun 13, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/13/96
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From the Tow 8sitor, Advertising Supplement to The Knoxville News
Sentinel, Sunday, Sept. 11, 1994

'Christy' a musical 'where God is hero,' playwright says

By Jill J. Cohen
News-Sentinel correspondent

It is 98 o'clock on a warm summer evening in Townsend. The amphitheater
where "Christy, the Musical" is performed is filled to capacity.
Rodney Basenburg came from Birmingham, Ala. Earl and Jan Marquis came
from Milton, Wisc. Senior citizens, children, their parents and scores of
single people are in attendance.
As the show opens, the audience is taken back to 1912. Dr. John
Ferrand (Mike Hickman) is appealing to young people in Asheville, N.C., to
help the children of Appalachia.
Ferrand's plea introduces the cast number "Come to the Mountain" -- and
sends the stubborn 19-year-old Christy Huddleston to teach in Cutter Gap.
Actress Stacey Heineke embraces the charm that is Christy as she sings
out her dreams. She wants to be more than a mother and housewife; she
wants to make a difference. "Let me change someone's life with my heart,"
she prays in song.
Her prayers are answered as the children come to the Cutter Gap mission
school to "swap howdies."
The show's creators make use of the Townsend Amphitheater's natural,
outdoor environment to create the mission school and locale of Cutter Gap,
the setting of most of "Christy."
Under the tutelage of Miss Alice Henderson (Shirley Dolan), a Quaker
who came to Cutter Gap to minister, Christy learns to teach mountain
people about mercy and forgiveness.
As the story plays out on the stage, Christy must learn about life in
the mountains, the struggles of the mountain people and her own feelings
for the Rev. David Grantland (Dean Adkins) and Dr. Neil MacNeill (Morgan
Mackay).
Drama, humor and sentiment spring from Christy's struggles, and
standing ovations are not unusual at the Townsend production.
The seeds for the musical were planted in the late 1960s when Dolan
read Catherine Marshall's novel. A resident of Harrisburg, Pa., Dolan had
visions of the book coming to life as a musical.
"I was 14 years old when I read the book," Dolan said. "I felt I could
relate to the story and the characters. I kept thinking how great it
would be if there was a musical where God is the hero."
In 1992, Dolan began working with two friends to create the musical:
Sandy Kalan, production coordinator at the Dutch Apple Theater, Lancaster,
Pa., and Ken McCaw, president of the Guitammer Co. Together they turned
the 500 page novel into a script.
Their final product follows the book's plot and includes all of the
principal characters.
The authors contracted with Leonard LeSourd, husband of the late author
and executor of her estate, to produce a series of "showcase" performances
in Lancaster. Funding came from advertising, tickets and the authors'
pockets.
During rehearsals for the premiere, the authors became aware that Ken
Wales was working on bringing "Christy" to the screen. The authors
contracted Wales and initiated a friendship with him.
"Christy, the Musical" premiered at the Mennonite Fine Arts Auditorium,
Lancaster, on Aug. 13, 1992, with a cast of 25, including 12 children.
In the spring of 1993, the authors submitted their script to the
Cumberland County Playhouse in Crossville for the Cracker Barrel Rural
America Series. It was accepted and was performed 42 times from Sept. 17
through Oct. 24, 1993. Approximately 15,000 people saw the production.
When Wales saw it, he contracted the authors and told them they must
get the musical to Townsend. "Christy, the Musical" moved into the
amphitheater, which had been home of the summer Passion Play for 19 years,
in June.
"We came from out of town and knew no one," said Paul Cooper, general
manager of Cutter Gap Productions. "It never would have happened without
the help of the people of Townsend and Blount County."
Larissa Denney (Ruby Mae Morrison) came from Denver. She says she
believes in the show's positive message.
J. Lynn Talley (Elizabeth Holcombe), a seventh-generation East
Tennessean, came home from southern California when her mother called to
tell her about the production.
"It's a blessing to be in such a wholesome production," Talley said. "I
can't think of anyone who doesn't feel the Christian message is
important."
While playwright Dolan believes Christy's story is proof that a person
can have the desires of her heart, Heineke looks at her character in a
different light.
"If you want to know about God, you just need to open your heart to
Him," Heineke said. "Christy finally gets to do that."

to the net 6/13/96

**********************************************
Tha mo chas air ceann mo naimhdean.

Candila

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Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
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To Caro and everyone else who were privileged to see the musical:

Were the actors and actresses as good as those in the TV show,
casting-wise?

Caroline Kent

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Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
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>It is 98 o'clock on a warm summer evening in Townsend. The amphitheater
>where "Christy, the Musical" is performed is filled to capacity.

Yes, the theater was packed when I went as well. I'm glad that I
arrived early as the seating is on a first come basis. The theatre is
situated on a hill and it's a nice climb from the bottom row to the
concession area!


> Ferrand's plea introduces the cast number "Come to the Mountain" -- and
>sends the stubborn 19-year-old Christy Huddleston to teach in Cutter Gap.

This was a wonderful opening number and it really set the tone for the
rest of the show.

> Actress Stacey Heineke embraces the charm that is Christy as she sings
>out her dreams. She wants to be more than a mother and housewife; she
>wants to make a difference. "Let me change someone's life with my heart,"
>she prays in song.

Ms. Heineke was superb in the role and had a beautiful singing voice.

> Her prayers are answered as the children come to the Cutter Gap mission
>school to "swap howdies."

This was a great number as well.

> The show's creators make use of the Townsend Amphitheater's natural,
>outdoor environment to create the mission school and locale of Cutter Gap,
>the setting of most of "Christy."

It's a bit chilly on those October evenings and I wish I had thought
to bring a blanket. From what I've heard, they've added even more
animals to make the setting more realistic. I really enjoyed viewing
the performance in the outdoor setting - it made the story come alive
in my mind.

> Under the tutelage of Miss Alice Henderson (Shirley Dolan), a Quaker
>who came to Cutter Gap to minister, Christy learns to teach mountain
>people about mercy and forgiveness.

The actress who portrayed Miss Alice was quite different from Tyne
Daly who has made the role so much her own so it was difficult for me
to see Ms. Dolan in this role, although the entire ensemble was
wonderfully cast. Mike Hickman, who portrays Bird's-Eye Taylor in
the series, also has the role in the musical as well.



> As the story plays out on the stage, Christy must learn about life in
>the mountains, the struggles of the mountain people and her own feelings
>for the Rev. David Grantland (Dean Adkins) and Dr. Neil MacNeill (Morgan
>Mackay).

There were several terrific musical numbers in Act II - "Spring
Ballet" and "Wedding Dance" were two of my favorites. I wish I had
purchased the cassette recording of the musical numbers featured in
the show. If you happen to be in the Townsend area, I encourage
everyone to see the show. It was a wonderful experience!

Caro

Candila

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Jun 14, 1996, 3:00:00 AM6/14/96
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>Ms. Heineke was superb in the role and had a beautiful singing voice.

Would you like to see her as Christy if KM can't rejoin the group?

>> As the story plays out on the stage, Christy must learn about life
in
>>the mountains, the struggles of the mountain people and her own
feelings
>>for the Rev. David Grantland (Dean Adkins) and Dr. Neil MacNeill
(Morgan
>>Mackay).

What about our friends David and Neil? Do you like them in the role
more or less than RB and SF-M? Just wondering.

D.

Irene Miller

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Jun 20, 2022, 1:25:41 AM6/20/22
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Is this script available for licensing? And if it is, who can I contact about it?
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