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The Sanders family visits Johnson County again

By: Lacy Hilliard
Tomahawk Writer/Photographer

The good ole’ Sanders Family of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church are at it again in the upcoming Johnson County Community Theatre performance of “A Sanders Family Christmas.” The laugh-out-loud tale of Burl, Vera and all of their kin is a sequel to the previously performed Bailey/Ray classic, “Smoke on the Mountain.”
The Johnson County Community Theatre (JCCT) and their audiences have a notable affinity toward the Sanders Family. Connie Ray, co-author of “A Sanders Family Christmas” is a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina –her roots clearly lend to the locally relevant brand of humor that the JCCT has come to know and love. “I love the (Sanders Family) plays because of the message they bring. This is the kind of play that I feel appeals to the area we live in,” said Director Kathy Terrill. Terrill can boast of cast of JCCT favorites and soon-to-be favorites starring in the upcoming production.
Members of the Visser family make up a notable portion of the cast including Preston Visser who plays the emotionally fragile Reverend Oglethorpe, Laura Visser who plays the sweet but hopelessly clueless Denise Sanders and community stage favorite Derek Visser plays Denise’s simple but hilarious twin brother, Dennis Sanders. Acting the role of Vera Sanders is veteran and time honored JCCT actress, Judy Walsh. Burl, Vera’s husband who suffers from chronic foot-in-mouth disease, will be played by Chris McElraft. The upbeat but ditzy June Sanders will be acted by another JCCT veteran – Dorinda Walters and Billy Gambill will portray the role of Stanley Sanders. The meddling but loveable Miss Myrtle and Miss Maude will be acted by mischievous duo Sue Howard and Janet Griffith.
The music in Sanders Family productions plays an integral, which highlights another reason the JCCT chooses to revisit the Sanders Family – “The music is what we were brought up on,” said Terrill. The seasoned director went on to detail the love she has for Christmas gospel music combined with a bit of southern humor as it is the heart of Sanders Family productions. Terrill made a wise choice in celebrating local music by enlisting the expertise of “Turkey Tracks Trio” to provide the music for A Sanders Family Christmas. Comprised of Jennifer Gillenwater, Mary Mays and Linda Miller – Turkey Tracks Trio has become locally famous for capturing the spirit of Johnson County’s rich musical heritage.

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