By Ida Brown / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
An inspirational holiday production featuring Broadway actors and a local non-denominational mass choir returns to Meridian in November.
Pastoral counselor and minister Greg Smith of Auburn, Ala., and award-winning television producer and actor Michael Young ("Love Boat" and "Kids Are People, Too" fame) of Los Angeles, Calif., were in Meridian this week for a book signing and to promote "The Forgotten Carols," which was presented last year at the Temple Theater.
Young obtained permission from composer Michael McLean to produce a Southeastern tour after seeing a performance of "The Forgotten Carols" on the West Coast. He partnered with his long-time friend Smith to produce the first tour, and this year Smith has written "The Forgotten Carols Bible Study" to accompany the musical. Smith and Young were at The Bible Bookstore in downtown Meridian for the signing.
"What's really fun about it is, for those people who love music the Bible study is centered around each of the nine songs in the play," Smith said. "You can get the CD and your group can listen to the music and do the Bible study with each song; it's kinda a new way to do Bible study."
The production tells the story of Constance, a young nurse who sees the holidays as a meaningless distraction, until she is assigned to care for an aged gentleman (portrayed by Young) who believes that he has been alive 2,000 years and has met people from the Christmas story, such as the innkeeper who turned away Joseph and Mary – those characters who have been forgotten. As he chronicles his encounters with his “forgotten carols,” he eventually touches the part of her heart that she had long ago forgotten.
First Christian Church pastor Dr. Tom Sikes attended the musical last year and said he was touched by the
“I’ve attended many musical presentations, but I don’t know of one that blessed me anymore than this particular musical," Sikes said. "All through the program, I had a smile on my face, tears in my eyes, and warmth in my heart. It immensely enhanced the Christmas season and it made those sacred days all the more meaningful to me.”
An appeal of the musical is the involvement of local choirs at each venue. Local choirs already committed to the production include First Presbyterian Church, Central United Methodist Church and Williams Myles and YPOP. Sandy Klutz, choir director at St. Patrick’s Church in Meridian, said her youth choir will participate in this year’s production. She attended the performance last year knowing little about it.
“My husband said he had never attended a Christmas show that made him laugh and cry; it really touched his heart," Klutz said.
"My daughter and I went through all of our Kleenex last year so this time we are bringing two boxes! Just as 'The Nutcracker' is an annual event, I believe that 'The Forgotten Carols' will be as well. The message is one that will renew our spirits year after year,” she said.
Smith said more local voices are needed for this year's production.
"This is an opportunity for local singers to be on stage and part of a Broadway production," he said. "If you want to sing, we can certainly get you in that choir. We want this to be a community performance that happens every year. It's a wonderful thing for people to be involved in."
Tickets for "The Forgotten Carols" are currently on sale at The Temple Theater, Bible Bookstore or online at meridian.brownpapertickets.com/forgottencarols. Tickets are $15, adults; $10, children through high school age.
"The Forgotten Carols Bible Study" is $6.95 and available at Bible Bookstore, at Barnes & Nobles, online at Amazon.com or the series' web page at www.theostheatricals.com The accompanying CD is sold separately at stores and websites.
"The Forgotten Carols" tour will start in the Atlanta area on Nov. 11 and will be presented in several locations in Mississippi, including Meridian, Vicksburg, Jackson and Hattiesburg.