PRINCESS THEATRE - Raising the Curtain: 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"A Christmas Snow" Played At The Princess Saturday Evening

A modest crowd got to watch "A Christmas Snow" Saturday evening with the star, Muse Watson.  It's not often that happens in your life!
I suppose I was the luckiest one of all, since I sat with him in the balcony (don't tell Megan...we weren't supposed to be up there).  He listened to the audience reactions to specific scenes; even peering over the rail a few times.  
Fortunately for me, it was dark in the theater, and he couldn't tell when I got verklempt during a couple of my favorite scenes.  When Katie finds her father's pocket watch is one, but the kicker is when she sees Sam outside the window near the end.  Gets me every time!

It was wonderful sitting up there remembering yesteryear; hearing the rattle of popcorn bags and the smell was awesome.  Yes, I had a bag too!
Muse has many devoted followers in Harriman and they always flock around him given the opportunity.  We are fortunate to have him in this area, and he maintains a small farm locally in order to have a place to stay during special events.  His celebrity has been a plus for the Princess, and he never passes up and opportunity to promote it.  
He also loves reminding us of "the dream", and he brought three reasons for that dream out on stage with him.
During the brief intermission, Chris Mason pulled ticket numbers and the Simply Sweet Bakery gave away cookie tins.  Do your remember the give-aways during movies long ago?

This was the second movie of the holiday season and I think most people really appreciated the nostalgic throwback.  There are no more movies scheduled for now, but you can rest assured there will be more.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Packed House Enjoys The Dr. Eric Littleton Christmas Concert

This was the third concert Dr. Eric Littleton has played at the Princess Theatre in Harriman.  It has become a tradition, and he has already made plans to return next Christmas.  
Also, I think I overheard that he's coming back in March; I'm sure the community will again respond by filling the house!

Never are we so thankful to Janet Gasperetii for donating the beautiful Yamaha piano, than when Dr. Littleton expertly tickles the keys!  Thank you Janet!

Harriman's own Dr. Littleton is happiest when he is playing the piano.  His beautiful mother told me that they once had to send him a keyboard to college so he could get over homesickness and boredom.  

Not only does he have several pianos in his home, he also has one in his doctor's office in Sevierville.  He'll be quick to tell you that he only practices as a doctor in order to play the piano!

Those in attendance was treated to all the Christmas favorites, plus he worked in some Floyd Cramer, so show tunes, and some Righteous Brothers.  However, as usual, his music reflects his strong faith.
Between songs Dr. Littleton likes to give the history of the song he is going to play.  He also interjects some Harriman history; mostly from his school days back in the early 70's.  The crowd loves it all and cheered at the mention of old names and events he mentioned.
In the photo above he is holding an algebra test from when he had Mr. Thompson in high school.  "I made a 63 on this test, the lowest grade I ever made," he explained, "and everyone else in the class made a 63," which would have been good news because of the "curve", "except Scott Mason made 93!"  The crowd laughed hardily, because Scott was in the audience!

After that, he played the Harriman High Alma Mater!
Muse Watson was his special guest, and he never fails to please, whether it be reading a poem or singing.  Singing was out of the question this visit, since he has been very sick with bronchitis.  However, his poem "The Christmas Guest", by Helen Steiner Rice, was very touching and right in line with the season.
And, of course, Dr. Littleton brought out his son Caleb to accompany him on "Little Drummer Boy".  He says it's really so his grandmother can see and hear him on stage.  Regardless, the two work well with each other; both are huge talents.
One of the most poignant moments during the concert, for me anyway, was while he was showing old home movies of his family and playing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".  One slide that came up was an old Sunbeam Bread ad, and I remember seeing his dad "Jim" driving around in that old Sunbeam truck many times.  

I could not help but get a little choked up seeing that and Dr. Eric silhouetted on stage.  He said he almost didn't make it through rehearsal himself!  

I understand why too, because that job paid for all those piano lessons, and college for him and his brother Mark.  We owe so much to our parents...thank them before it's too late!
There was also a cheer from the audience when the new screen started down.  It will be quite emotional for most of us when that happens, for a long time to come.  We have waited so long.

Here are some of the other photos from before and after the show.  Both signed autographs and greeted each person attending the event.
It was a great show...wish you had been able to make it!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Kingdom Heirs - January 9th!

This benefits the 
Midtown 1st District Volunteer Fire Department.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Babahatchie Community Band Performs For Christmas

For the fourth time, the Babahatchie Community Band played the Princess Theatre.  It was the second time they have performed their Christmas Concert, and a modest crowd seemed pleased with what was presented.
  Mr. McCall Bohanan has been the conductor for at least the six years I've been following them.  Last night McCall was presented with an early Christmas gift from Dr. Joe and the band.  His efforts are great appreciated.
Bohanan does a great job at arranging their music and working with "student" players from the area high schools, and the elder musicians like founder Dr. Joe Williams and his long time friend Dr. Julian Ahler.  Mixing new and seasoned musicians isn't as easy as it sounds, but Bohanan encourages each group to perform at their very best on performance nights!
Bill Farnham and Luther True
Mr. Bill Farnham, narrated the evenings music pieces, bringing his own brand of humor to the presentations.  It's always interesting and entertaining to be in his company.  Bill is also a very talented actor who performs frequently with the Roane State Players.
Special guest vocalist, Sandy Wells, of Oliver Springs, impressed the audience with her command of the stage and the music she presented.  There is so much talent in our area, and we have yet to tap into it.  There are many more than need to be seen and heard on our Princess stage.
For more than 20 years, the band has performed for Harriman residents several times each year, with popular classics, marches, brass band music, and show tunes.  They perform in the gazebo at Riverfront Park on scheduled Sundays during the summer.  The tuba and euphonium players also get together the 2nd Saturday in December for the annual Merry Tuba Christmas, held at the Harriman High School gym. 

The full group, usually about 30 members strong, was formed by Dr. Joseph (Joe) Williams in 1989.  The band holds weekly rehearsals, which are open to the public and held in the Harriman High School band room most any Monday evening around 8 PM.  
You are invited to join the band anytime, just show up; they would enjoy your company!

Also remember to support this group with your donations at their performances.  It's only through your help that the group is able to bring us this wonderful music.  Thanks!

Friday, December 12, 2014

"It's A Wonderful Life" Packs The Princess

It was a historic evening!  The showing of "It's A Wonderful Life" marked the end of 15 years without a movie being shown at the Princess Theatre, in Downtown Harriman, TN.  
Cecil Johnson closed the movie house in 1999, and the theater fell into decay.  The leaking roof ruined everything inside, but a tragic accident made it possible for the building to be renovated and the Princess was brought back to life.  With her resurrection came new hope for a community that the spark of life would also rejuvenate Downtown Harriman.
Some of that dream came true Friday night as the community relived old memories, and made new ones, at the movie theater.  There were cars parked all up and down the street and people scurried between the Princess and the Simply Sweet Bakery.  In my mind, it was reminiscent of days gone by; when it was common place to see Roane Street lit up and people window shopping.
Inside the auditorium was nearly packed.  I would say it was the largest crowd since Marshal Tucker and The Kentucky Headhunters!
When Mayor Chris Mason and RSCC President Chris Whaley announced the start of the movie, the house erupted in applause and cheers!  The people have been hungry for a "real" movie at the Princess and they got their wish Friday night.

"It's A Wonderful Life" isn't a first run movie, but it was to those of us that have long awaited that evening!

It was also great to see the new screen down and reflecting new memories.
Above was the digital projector, an old one, given to us by Regal, but with the gift of $5,000 from the Cornstalk Heights Historical Community Organization (CHHCO), we are on our way to getting the $24K for a new one!  

Your gift to the Princess will go along way in achieving that goal.  Please give today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Michael Golebiewski Directs "A Christmas Story" At Roane State

Again Michael Golebiewski brought another great stage production to the Roane State theatre.  This time it was "A Christmas Story", written by Philip Grecian, based on the stories by Jean Shepherd.  There was a large turnout for the play Friday evening, or it could have been for Michael's famous dessert offerings at intermission!

The story is all about Ralphie Parker, played wonderfully by Caleb Wright, a 7th grader at Cherokee Middle School, who only wants one thing for Christmas.  Ralphie not only obsesses about during is waking moments, but day and night dreams about becoming a neighborhood hero using a Red Ryder BB gun.
Caleb was also a gentlemen off stage.  I touched his shoulder on the way out and told him that he had done a great job, and the young man, still dressed in his silk robe after coming off the stage, said smilingly, "Oh thank you sir!"

All the iconic elements were there (as my photographic evidence proves); the leg lamp with ensuing "Battle of the Lamp"; which eventually leads to a broken leg, the metal pole with Flick's frozen tongue (Flick played by John Conard Belitz V, a 4th grader at Kingston Elementary), a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and "this thing which tells time", said 28 times in the original movie (I didn't count the stage expressions, but it was close.), the "you'll put your eye out" comments were also there, the barking Bumpus dogs next door, and the "redneck Bumpus"  theft of the Christmas turkey, the clinker battles with accompanying expletives, the Christmas tree trip with the scattering of the lug nuts, and the famous line "...only I didn't say fudge", Randy behind the couch and under the sink and back steps, the explosive fight scene between Ralphie and Scut Farkas (played by Chayse Mitchell (a freshman at Greenback), and even the Cowboy dream sequences (played by Caleb Stephenson, a student at RSCC)!

The most important element on the stage was the youth of Roane County expressing themselves, quite admirably I must say, through their art.  (A personal note: At least Roane State has theatre, something shamefully missing in our high schools!  The Princess stage needs to be utilized by the school system and promote the arts in education.  It's part of the dream folks!)
The youth on the stage ranged from kindergartner Seth Gutridge (playing Randy),  to old timer Corey Jones (playing the Old Man).  I've watched Corey grow in theatre, and he's maturing into a fine actor.

Randy (little fellow in the above photo), who incidentally often stole the show by either adorably waving at audience members, or poking his hands or head up through the kitchen sink to the shock of his mom, to walking or crawling on and off stage at will!  His mother (on and off stage), Tiffany Gutridge (played Ralphie and Randy's mom), had her hands full keeping up with her lines and the timing of delivery, while at the same time holding, dragging, or whispering "don't do that" to Randy!  It made for an enjoyable evening...just these exchanges and antics keep the audience smiling and laughing!

To be honest I'm not sure what part of the hilarious actions of the young actor were written into the script, or were just a little boy being himself!  Either way, it added to the whole feel of the show, and was quite fitting regardless.

Also on stage was a host of other supporting actors: Garrett Davis (Adult Ralphie) delivered the voice over, as was in the movie, Luke Taylor (Schwartz) is a 2nd grader at Bowers Elementary, Alayna Golebiewski (Esther Jane - Ralphie's girlfriend), Elizabeth Fishel (Helen), Kimmie Haliburda (Miss Shields) is a theatre major at RSCC, Gianni de Schaepdryver (tree salesman) is from Belgium, Tre Pack (Santa Claus) is a 2nd year RSCC student, and Kristen Arden (Elf) is also a 2nd year student at RSCC.
Spoiler Alert!  The played turned out like it was supposed to with Ralphie getting his Christmas wish; a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and "this thing which tells time"!  And yes, he almost shoots his eye out!
Ralphie and his father have a grand Christmas; without turkey!

Other photos from Friday evening's performance:
Congratulations all on the great performances, and keep up the great work.

Go now to the RSCC's website and signup to receive an electronic version of the Roane State Presents Performing and Visual Arts mailer (click the embedded link).  You will be very happy you did.

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