Sounds wafting through downtown Thomasville, both choral and construction, offer a sure sign that the holidays are just around the corner, as members of the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe are busy putting the finishing touches on the group’s Christmas show, a south Georgia holiday tradition that spans more than three decades.
Since Sunday, some 100 students from area schools have been spending their afternoons and evenings at the Troupe’s Fred Allen Building and, as of Tuesday, Thomasville’s Municipal Auditorium, working in preparation for Tuesday night’s 8 p.m. holiday performance.
“Each August, we begin preparing for our Christmas show, so they’ve been rehearsing holiday carols and Christmas songs for more than three months,” explained Troupe Director Lisa Davis of the Troupe and Junior Troupe members who range in age from seventh grade to high school senior. “Now, as curtain time approaches, they’re working very hard now to polish the performance.”
The group of singing teenaged entertainers was launched in 1972 by Fred Allen and his wife, Winnie, Georgia natives who had enjoyed professional entertainment careers in New York and wanted to return home to the South.
As envisioned by the Allens 40 years ago, the Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe offers a cultural and performing vehicle for area teenagers, who benefit from not only an exposure to music, dance and theatre, but also from direction by classically trained artists who teach from first-hand experience gained on the professional stage and in the country’s premiere music and theatre schools. Not only are Troupe members gaining an appreciation of music, theatre and stage arts, but they are learning life skills like enhanced self-discipline and composure before an audience that will serve them well no matter what path their lives take.
The Allens jointly nurtured and managed the Troupe program for more than 35 years, along with their daughter, Allison Allen Cheney, herself a former child actress and singer and a charter member of the Troupe. Davis, a classically trained singer and seasoned professional entertainer, has served as Troupe’s director since 2009, with Fred Allen’s input and involvement as director emeritus.
Junior Troupe and outreach coordinator Stephanie Hart and choreographer Dana Willis round out the artistic team, along with assistant to the director Melissa Thomas who serves in a myriad of volunteer roles. They are assisted by a virtual army of volunteers, community members and parents who work behind the scenes selling tickets, creating set pieces, sewing wardrobe and providing meals at rehearsal breaks, among many other duties.
The Troupe presented its first spring show in 1974 and, two years later, offered a production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s classic Christmas one-act opera, “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” The current Christmas show format, presented at the Municipal Auditorium, began a few years later.
“It began as a Christmas gift to the community, and it has grown into a south Georgia holiday tradition,” explained Rick Ivey, Troupe’s co-president and the show’s producer. “The Troupe’s Christmas Show enthusiastically ushers in the season as it has since 1978.”
Ivey said the production features both secular and sacred music, with Christmas standards and traditional carols mingled alongside new arrangements of familiar holiday songs. From children’s favorites like Santa and Rudolph to classic Christmas carols, the evening offers something to get everyone in the holiday spirit, he added.
Tickets will be available to the public at Grassroots Coffee in downtown Thomasville beginning Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A limited number of tickets may be available just prior to the show at the Municipal Auditorium Box Office beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
For more ticket information, contact Latrelle Cone at 403-7251.
If You Go….
Thomasville Music & Drama Troupe’s 2011 Christmas Show
Tuesday, December 6th, 8 p.m.
Tickets $20 Reserved, $15 Balcony, $10 Student Balcony
Available at Grassroot Coffee beginning 8 a.m. Thursday
For more information, contact Latrelle Cone at 403-7251.