Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

May 31, 2012

'Walking on Water' a remarkable theatrical experience

CROSSVILLE — A world premier, right here in Crossville! A most unusual production awaits you on the Mainstage at the Cumberland County Playhouse. Walking on Water is the personal autobiography of the life of Bob Gunton. It is a creative retrospective of musical theater and film for the past fifty years. As the program states it is “a musical journey of faith and redemption,” reminding us “sometimes even faith sinks like Peter in Galilee.”  

Many moist eyes were seen on the opening night of Walking on Water. People reminisced, “I was on stage with Bob when Tennessee U.S.A opened.” One commented, “I have the program from that opening night in 1965.” Said another, “It is wonderful to have Bob back home.”

There were, in a sense, four audiences present. Those comments came from people who had lived in the area for nearly fifty years. They had celebrated the friendship and shared the creativity of Bob Gunton and Jim Crabtree. They loved learning the career that had spanned the intervening years. There were those of us who were drawn to this area in part because of the rich theatrical experiences Jim Crabtree was bringing to the Plateau. Some had traveled to see the man whose talents they had admired on stage and screen. One commented, “I loved Bob Gunton in The Shawshank Redemption, I cannot wait to see him in person.” The remainder of the audience was just there for a good evening of musical theater.

They all got what they wanted and more.

Bob Gunton is the focus of this three-person show. With the aid of complex video equipment, we meet Bob at various times in his life and career. Our first glimpse is of Bob entering from the aisle, playing his guitar, singing and dancing “Plinkety Plank.” He and Paul Crabtree had written the song together. Bob’s energy and skill erased those intervening fifty years.

We are told this story: Bob Gunton and Jim Crabtree as seminary roommates convinced that God had called them to the priesthood. Amid studies, questions arose: Were there choices? Paul Crabtree offered a choice. He was opening a new playhouse. Were these two seminarians being called to channel their energy and develop their skills as performers?  

Austin Price as “Actor” plays a young Bob Gunton. Images on the screen reveal some resemblance along with comparable energy and developing skills with the guitar. Price is Gunton, “a summer hillbilly” of 1965 in Tennessee USA. Price assumes the mature role of psychiatrist, a prophet and a host of other theatrical characters as Bob Gunton’s life unrolls before us.

Margaret French brings a wealth of experience to her debut on the Playhouse stage. As an “Actress,” she assumes the role of Barbara Swenson, “First Love,” Him’s wife, Agent Nina Carey and many other theatrical characters. French has sung in a Pop/Folk trio, as background vocalist and made her New York City debut as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah.

The voices of these three blend in an amazing array of 26 musical numbers.     

The demanding range of this music  moves from Galway Bay, Goodnight, Saigon by William M. Joel, a series of songs by Stephen Sondheim, Humoresque by Antonin Dvorak and Sidney Twinn, and Have Some Madeira, M’Dear by Michael Flanders and Donald Ibrahim Swann. The latter, we learn, was his audition piece for Paul Crabtree.

Talented actors depend on the supportive talents of an orchestra. Ron Murphy as conductor and keyboard artist with must change tempo, and song seamlessly as Gunton, Price and French sing a musical comedy medley. The on-stage orchestra never misses a beat. It is composed of Kathy Bowers, flute; Wayne Robbins, trumpet; Tony Greco, bass; Joe Brindisi, clarinet/sax; Greg Danner, horn; Drew Robbins, guitar; Leigh Sooter, cello; Robert Thatch, trombone; and Chet Hayes, percussion.

Gunton has played a huge variety of memorable roles over his fifty-year career. 

We see only snippets of his stage work. A longer portion of Sweeney Todd, for which he received a Tony Award, is part of this show. His films include farce and drama. He has been a series regular on many TV shows.

I will not bring you a list of the credits of this Broadway and Hollywood star. I only suggest you call for tickets. The show runs only through June 16. You will have a remarkable theatrical experience that is not to be forgotten.

Bob Gunton was presented a key to the City of Crossville. We look forward to his using it as he and Jim Crabtree maintain their close long-term friendship.

Thanks, Jim, for sharing your friend and your remarkable skills as a director.    

1
Text Only
Things To Do
  • front page news.jpg "Front Page News" held over in Dayton

    Cumberland County Playhouse and its producing partner The Scopes Festival in Dayton, TN, have added three more performances of "Front Page News," the newly adapted, historically accurate play with music, currently being staged in the historic “monkey trial” courtroom in Dayton’s Rhea County Courthouse.  Additional shows of the new work are Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and the final show Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All times are EDT.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • granville.jpg Scarcrow Walk set Oct. 4-31 in Granville

    The Second Annual Granville Scarecrow Walk will be in Historic Granville on Oct. 4 through Oct. 31.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conlee Color HI.jpg Conlee to perform at Palace

    John Conlee is a lot like the songs of which he sings. He lives a domestic life with his wife Gale and three children, Rebecca, Jessica and Johnny. During the past two decades, Conlee has achieved a level of success that he has sustained by simply being himself and by making records that the listening public can relate to. He is a gifted entertainer, but he’s not into the glitz and hype of the entertainment world. He’d rather spend his “off the road” time working on his 32 acre farm outside of Nashville or engaging in his woodworking and gunsmithing hobbies.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Lites.jpg 'Friday Night Air' features City Lites

    The “Friday Night Air” summer concert series continues Friday at the Spirit Broadband amphitheater in downtown Crossville with the City Lites Band. They are a very popular four-piece band from Crossville that has performed throughout Tennessee and the Southeast for more than three decades. Their lineup features Marty Gibson on guitar and vocals, Flavy Miller on bass and vocals, Glenn Holverson on saxophones and Wade England on drums. The song list includes a wide variety of musical styles from swing, country, '50’s and '60’s, rock and more. Something for everyone to enjoy! The performance is free to the public and begins at 6 p.m. and is sponsored by the Historic Palace Theatre and the city of Crossville.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gypsy, Front Page News open this weekend

    They're gearing up for a very exciting week both at the Cumberland County Playhouse and at the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton!

    July 17, 2014

  • LexVinDance260_2.jpg Vintage Dance Society opens PAART season

    The Performing Arts Alliance of Rural Tennessee (PAART) is pleased to announce the first event in it’s 2014-15 season: the Lexington Vintage Dance Society will perform "Downton Abbey Era: The Titanic to the Jazz Age" in period costumes. This performance will take place Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre in Crossville.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • gypsy hombres.jpg Gypsy Hombres take stage Sunday

    For years, there has been a persistent legend in Nashville about a crazy gypsy ‘Fiddler on the Roof” who dances as he plays the violin on the roof of his Victorian house. Cumberland County Playhouse will prove the legend is 100 percent true as The Gypsy Hombres take the stage Sunday.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Gypsy' opens July 18 at CCP

    Beginning July 18, everything’s coming up roses as the Playhouse brings one of the greatest American musicals of all time to life… “Gypsy”! From the unforgettable first notes of its legendary overture to the final white hot spotlight, “Gypsy” is considered by many to be “the best musical ever,” as it tells the story of the archetypal stage mother, Rose, and her daughters, June and Louise.

    July 10, 2014

  • wildman.jpg ‘Wild Man’ takes Palace stage Aug. 23

    Look out, Crossville, here comes the coolest guy in town and his name is Rafael R. Soriano, also known by fans everywhere as “Wild Man,” but he calls himself “Wild Man Billy Ralph!”

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • KOTR Steven Whitson Picture.jpg 'An Evening with Steven Whitson' to benefit Kids on the Rise

    ds on the Rise will be hosting a fund-raising concert Aug. 2 at the Palace Theatre. The local non-profit agency will present An Evening with Steven Whitson.

    July 2, 2014 2 Photos

AP and the Gulf Oil Spill
AP Video
Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide