It’s quite easy to forget the reason for the season on occasion. Everybody gets wrapped up in their lives, wrapped up in wrapping up the year, and wrapped up in wrapping gifts. The congregation at Grace Chapel in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee reminded us all of the very nature of the holiday in its original Christmas musical, Christmas Blue.
Co-written and co-directed by Allison Allen and Josh Childs with music and lyrics by Allison Allen, Jonathan Allen, Rick Cua, Chris Eaton, Mia Fieldes, and Leslie Satcher, the musical, which mixed a service with a story line, was brilliantly scripted, scored, and performed by an endlessly talented group of individuals who call Grace Chapel “home”. The entire production revolved around one beautiful sentiment, “sometimes hope comes out of the blue”, and focused on the reality that everyone is going through something and needs a place to seek comfort and refuge. Eliciting eruptions of laughter and bouts of tears, the message was relayed frequently, with each cast member adopting a unique way of sharing it.
Spearheading the mind-blowing cast was co-writer and director Childs who played the role of Pastor Doug; the leader of a service gone awry. Displaying undeniable wit, comedic timing, and recognizable references, Childs showed off his acting skills, which can also be seen in films such as Hannah Montana: The Movie, Blindsided, and Prism.
Also included in the cast was a myriad of exceptional singers and actors that caused our jaws to hit the floor each time somebody new took the stage to perform. Stand out moments included the operatic stylings of Kandi McIntyre, reminding me of my undying love for The Sound of Music and the Reverend Mother’s phenomenal vocals; Janice Gaines and Tammy Jensen with “What a Year Can Do”; Troy Sands with “Slow Goodbye”; and Jeff Boyet with “I’m Still There”. Also of note were the children’s and adult choirs who filled the room with Christmas joy between soloists, bridging the gaps and providing supplementary music for the duration.
The final solo of the evening came from Jo Dee Messina as Carolina Wilde, a troubled soul who has been weary of church since her upbringing. Though Messina had a few lines throughout the show and perfectly played the part of the always ready to run out-of-towner, it was her performance of “Carolina’s Wild” that shifted the feeling in the room from a packed house at an off Broadway-caliber event to a sold-out concert. Exuding star quality, Messina belted honest lyrics about a tumultuous life, finally realizing that the openness and acceptance of a church are exactly the things she has been needing to mend the errors of her ways.
Christmas Blue is an entertaining and fulfilling way to evaluate priorities and remember to remain patient with those around us, as we never know what is bubbling beneath another’s surface. By virtue of memorable lines, life lessons, and spectacular songs, Grace Chapel’s production made my heart feel whole and assured me that no matter how lonely I may feel in this world some days, I am never truly alone.
Thank you to Grace Chapel and its members for welcoming us with open arms to your lovely home and sharing your abundance of talents. We cannot wait to return and spend more time under your beautiful roof. The production of Christmas Blue runs Thursday, December 17th through Sunday, December 20th with free entry for all shows. Visit Grace Chapel’s website for more information.