'Sanders Family Christmas' offers warmth, humor and song at Colonnade - Dec. 13-21

'Sanders Family Christmas' offers warmth, humor and song at Colonnade - Dec. 13-21

December 12th, 2013 in Chattnow Art

Among the actors in "A Sanders Family Christmas" are, from left, Sara Gard, Jessica Smith, Shan Pace, Phil Ledbetter, Kyle Conkle, Kim Jenkins and Mitchell Wooten.

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IF YOU GO

* What: "A Sanders Family Christmas."

* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Dec. 13-14, and Dec. 20-21; 1 p.m. Dec. 14.

* Where: Catoosa County Colonnade, 264 Catoosa Circle, Ringgold, Ga.

* Admission: $15 adults, $12 seniors/students, $11 groups.

* Phone: 706-935-9000.

* Website: www.colonnadecenter.org.

It just wouldn't be Christmas without the Sanders Family.

Chattanooga-area theatergoers have had an opportunity to see the fictional traveling family gospel singing group - at least as close as Crossville, Tenn. - every year since 2001.

This year, Ever After Productions is bringing the family to the Colonnade for five shows beginning Friday, Dec. 13.

"The Sanderses love to sing and are all about family," says co-director Gayle Carter. "And that's what we all live with."

The musical is a sequel to "Smoke on the Mountain," which Ever After Productions mounted at the Colonnade in March.

"A Sanders Family Christmas" finds the singing family returning to Mount Pleasant, N.C., where the original show was set, for a visit to Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

The year is 1941, a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the recently declared war is causing the singing group to disband for the duration of the conflict.

Before it happens, though, the family members will witness to their life and to their faith with warmth and humor while entertaining with 28 Christmas carols and gospel songs. Among them are "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem," "Away in a Manger," "Jingle Bells," "Cactus Christmas Tree," "I'll Be Home With Bells On" and "Grandpa's Done Gone Crazy."

Reprising their roles from "A Sanders Family Christmas" are Kyle Conkle as father Burl, Sara Gard as mother Vera, Jessica Smith as daughter Denise, Phil Ledbetter as Stanley (Burl's brother), Mitchell Wooten as the Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe and Carter as Miss Myrtle.

New for this production are Kim Jenkins as daughter June, though she has played the role many times, Shan Pace as son Dennis, the twin of Denise, and co-director Jan Daigle as Miss Maude.

"A Sanders Family Christmas" continues to be popular, and requested, according to Carter, because the show tells of "the grace of God, of the mercy and forgiveness we receive through Jesus, through the birth of Jesus. People just identify with that."

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.