Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 17, 2013

Sander's Family to welcome new faces


CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County Playhouse welcomes new cast members to A Sanders Family Christmas, opening Oct. 24. Weslie Webster, CCP leading lady and education director, will direct both Sanders and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the family holiday musical opening on Nov. 23. The Sanders cast includes veterans Jason Ross and Patty Payne, as preacher Mervin and the hilarious June. Jason and Patty have been iconic favorites in these roles for nearly two decades in Smoke on the Mountain and Sanders.

In this year’s 15th edition of the gospel/holiday musical, Nathaniel Hackmann will don a cowboy hat as Uncle Stanley — a reformed ex-con who has gone to Hollywood to star in movies with Gene Autry, who returns to celebrate the holidays with the family. Hackmann will make his Broadway debut this spring in the New York revival of Les Misérables after playing lead Jean Valjean in the National Tour and at the Playhouse. Stanley joins brother Burl (Daniel Black, who started in the Playhouse Sanders cast 18 years ago as young Dennis) and Burl’s wife Vera (played by the multi-talented Lauren Marshall, who also serves as music director).

New to the family as twins Denise and Dennis are talented Cumberland County teens Anna Burnett and Malachi Banegas, both seen in previous CCP shows including last February’s hit, Footloose! Daniel Black praised the pair as proudly as any “daddy”: “It’s fun for us to again be casting actual teens in these roles, giving talented young performers the opportunity to play major roles. I started my career in just this way, in a high school production of Godspell right here at the Playhouse.”

Join the Sanders family this holiday season for music, laughter and a romantic surprise! For tickets/information call the Playhouse box office at 931-484-5000 or visit A Sanders Family Christmas is rated G, sponsored by Beef and Barrel, The Blind Zebra, Red’s Ale House and Cannon’s, and runs through Dec. 22 in the Adventure Theater.

Currently running at the Playhouse: To Kill a Mockingbird (rated PG, sponsored by Kenneth and Carol Ann Chadwell, Looney, Looney & Chadwell, PLLC) through Nov. 3, and Ragtime (rated PG, sponsored by Dr. Calley J. Elsea, Cloudland Dental) through Nov. 16. Tickets and information are also available for Southern Stars Symphonic Brass, and other events. All CCP productions are made possible through sponsor support, with additional support provided by the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.