Christmas Comes Early as Theatre Department Announces Holiday Performance

Theatre Arts Professor Rebecca Crocker announces at a press conference that the holiday production for the department this year will be Emmet Otters Jug Band Christmas.
Theatre Arts Professor Rebecca Crocker announces at a press conference that the holiday production for the department this year will be “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas”.
Staff Photo
The River Bottom Nightmare Band rehearses for Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.

Emmet, Ma, and puppets will be joining students and community members in the performance of Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas this winter.

“This has been a long dream of ours,” Performing Arts Professor Rebecca Crocker said.  “When we were talking about what we could possibly do as a holiday show, the first thing that came out of our mouths was Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.”

There was only one hitch–they needed the rights to perform the show.

That’s when she found a Facebook group.  A group hosted by former cast members.

Crocker reached out to the cast members and was pointed in the direction of playwright Timothy McDonald, who penned the Emmet Otter stage production based off of Muppet creator Jim Hensons’s 1977 television special. Henson’s version was based off the 1971 book of the same title by Russell and Lillian Hoban.

Crocker then sent a message to McDonald over Instagram, in April.

“We wanted to express who we are at Ferrum College,” Crocker said.

Within a few days, McDonald responded.

“I couldn’t think of a better place for Ma and Emmet to be,” McDonald said.

Theatre students and community members will be a part of making this show possible.

“We have a really great crew of students that are energized and motivated to get this show on stage,” Crocker said.  “We are fortunate we can utilize the classes the students take in support of the show.”

Stage prep classes will use portions of their class time to help build and design sets. In acting classes, students will work on monologues from the show.

“It’s incredibly special to me because it not only represents the spirit of my childhood memories, my family, and the things that I hold dear, but as we told McDonald in some of our original correspondence, we see the values and culture of our community reflected in this story,” Theatre Arts Professor Emily Blankenship-Tucker said.

Blankenship-Tucker is the director of the production and said this show will be intergenerational.

“This production, while it will have puppets and be family friendly, will be something I hope can be enjoyed by someone who is four or 94,” she said.  “We enjoy bringing imaginative and creative work, making music, and telling stories together.”

Auditions will be held this Sun., Oct. 29, from 3:30 p.m.-5 p.m. at The Rex Stephenson Theatre (first floor of Schoolfield Hall).  Callbacks will start at 6:30 p.m.

“This is an incredible opportunity for collaboration between students, our faculty, staff, and the community to build puppets ourselves for this production,” Crocker said.

The show will also need puppeteers, musicians, actors, singers, and people willing to help build and create the sets for the show.

The performances will run Dec. 5-17, with 10 performances in 12 days at the Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre.  Tickets are already on sale, and each performance will have a dinner served by performers, put on by Aladdin Campus Dining.

“I think this is another great opportunity to showcase what Ferrum has become,” Director of Franklin County Tourism, Kevin Tosh said.  “The evolution we continue to see here, and again just to showcase the people, because that’s what makes Ferrum a great place to visit and a great place to live.”

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