Sanders family holiday reunion to wrap up 2001 Lyceum season

Wednesday, October 10, 2001
The Sanders family will once again fill the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre with their unique brand of musical inspiration in the theater's production of "Sanders Family Christmas."

The Sanders family is coming back to Arrow Rock for a two-week visit. Fans of musical theater will remember them from "Smoke on the Mountain" and the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre is closing its 2001 season with the Missouri premier of the sequel, "Sanders Family Christmas."

The production opens tonight (Wednesday) and runs through Sunday, Oct. 21. The musical has three performances scheduled for Arrow Rock's annual Craft Festival Weekend on Oct. 13 and 14.

Those who have seen "Smoke" will recognize the Bible-quoting, banjo-playing, hymn-singing family from the filling station on Highway 101. The sequel is set on Dec. 24, 1941, just a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces and three years after the family first met Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe. In the sequel, the Sanders family has returned to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church for an evening of holiday cheer and music.

As with "Smoke," the production of "Sanders Family Christmas" is combination of rollicking, faith-filled songs and holiday songs, with each member of the Sanders family sharing whimsical vignettes of their life.

The production will feature a wealth of holiday music including "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing," "Christmas Time's A-Comin'," "A Country Kind of Christmas," "Christmas Bells," and "With Bells On." The production also includes a number of gospel hymns and traditional Christmas songs.

The Lyceum has assembled a cast for the production which features many of the same performers audiences saw in the theater's last production of "Smoke on the Mountain." The musical features Daniel Black as Dennis, Amie Church as Vera, Christa Germanson as June, Quin Gresham as Rev. Oglethorpe, Erica Kane as Denise, Daryl D. Vaughan as Burl and Dean Vivian as Stanley.

Black was last seen at the Lyceum as Dennis Sanders in "Smoke on the Mountain." He has also appeared at the Cumberland Country Playhouse in "My Fair Lady" and "Hello Dolly." Church comes to Arrow Rock by way of New York, where she has been seen off-Broadway in "Cowgirls" and "Madison Ave."

Germanson is also from New York and has played June on the Lyceum stage in "Smoke" She had the title role in this season's production of "Educating Rita." Gresham, a veteran of a number of Lyceum performances, was seen earlier this year in the productions of "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Man of La Mancha."

Kane, yet another New Yorker, makes her Lyceum debut with this production. She has appeared at the Arundel Barn Playhouse in "The All Night Strut" and "I Love You You're Perfect Now Change."

Vaughan and Vivian are reprising the roles of Burl and Stanley, respectively. From St. Louis, Vaughan was seen earlier this season as Harold Hill in "The Music Man." Vivian, from Kansas City, is no stranger to the Lyceum either, having appeared in numerous productions including "Pump Boys & Dinettes."

The production will be under the direction of Lyceum Associate Artistic Director Philip Coffield. Coffield directed last season's "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Forever Plaid."

"Sanders Family Christmas" will feature scenery and lighting designed by Kansas City's award-winning designer Randy Winder. Peter Reynolds serves as the production's musical director.

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