BLT puts on ‘The Homecoming – A Christmas Story’ for holidays

Published 6:24 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A presentation by Bainbridge Little Theatre this Christmas season explores the strength of a loving family, the Spencers. It is described as the perfect family show for the holidays.

Set in 1933, the time of the country’s Great Depression, it is based on a book by Earl Hamner Jr., titled Spencers’ Mountain. It was adapted to a stage play by Christopher Sergel and was the premier presentation of what became The Waltons, a popular television series that aired in the 1970’s-80’s. Only the names have been changed.

The Spencers live at the foot of a Virginia mountain where life is hard and people struggle to survive. The father of the family has taken a job a long way from home, as it was all he could find.

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The oldest boy, Clay-Boy, has assumed much of the responsibility for the home place and his younger brothers and sisters, while he secretly yearns for something more – something that is out of the ordinary for the community where he lives.

The father is unexplainedly delayed on his trip home on Christmas Eve and the family is very worried as they have heard nothing from him. Clay Boy sets out in search of him and comes across some interesting characters.

As is true in all rural areas, there are town characters that add spice and humor to life. Miss Emma (Pamela Barnes) and Miss Etta (Kathleen Sarrette) are the area’s “proper” bootleggers. They offer a bit of “the recipe” to anyone in need.

Joe Livingston plays a character known locally as “Birdshot”, while Charlie is Hugh McStay-Harrison, the Sheriff is convincingly played by James “Bubba” Spooner. Ike is Eli Poche’ and Rev. Dooly is Quest Brown.

Just as the family is sinking into despair, the father appears and brings a special gift for his elder son, a gift that reveals unexpected understanding and the strength of the loving family.

Under the direction of Martha Mobley, the play becomes a heart-warming story. She said she had seen it performed in Albany a few years ago and was determined to do it in Bainbridge.

The cast features Michael Brown as Clay Boy Spencer. Michael is a newcomer to Bainbridge and a recent graduate of Young Harris College.

The rest of the Spencer children are: Matt (Thomas Mitchell ) Becky (Dani Parker) Shirley (Aubri Donalson), Luke (Kell Donalson), Jane (Brooke Phillips) Patty Cake (Ellie Godwin).

Richard Whitehead and Jenna Chambless assume the parental roles of Clay and Olivia Spencer.

Grandpa Homer (Henry Intili) and Grandma Ida (Ida Cooksey) offer a sense of authenticity and connection to the family.

The City Lady (Rachel Rentz) is the one who brings toys and charity to the family, and the townspeople who come caroling are: (Justin McStay-Harrison, Barb Cliffe-Miller, Diana Whitaker, Christie Whitaker, Isabella Barnett, Caiden Etheridge and Jonathan Myles Malone.

Thaddeus Nifong is stage manager for the production. He also designed and constructed the set and has helped with the props that are authentic to the era.

Mobley said she was very pleased with the people who came out for auditions, especially the number of men. She enjoys working with children and noted several in the cast have been introduced to theatre during the summer youth workshops.

The play opens Thursday, December 3 at 7:30 at the Troupe Street Theatre, and continues on Friday and Saturday nights, with a concluding matinee performance on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Advance tickets may be reserved online of by calling 229-246-8345 Monday through Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. or email