Lights Up! Tour 2018
CAC’s children’s theater troupe, Lights Up!, beat the sun with a 5:30 a.m. departure on Thursday, April 26, for its seventh annual tour. Mrs. Jenna Thomas, the group’s director, had plans which called for presenting live drama and improv skits to a broad spectrum of sites and viewers. Reviving some skits from previous years and adding some new material, most of the program was student-written and specifically designed for both elementary and secondary audiences with options to include scriptural material.
With the bright and early departure accompanied by multiple “raindrops of blessing” (figuratively and literally), the troupe headed to Memphis for their first stop at Harding Academy Cordova. Cordova is a repeat stop from previous tours which promised and delivered a rousing reception, crowd response and interaction. The balance of the Memphis day included stops at the Shady Oaks School which hosts special needs students, Harding Academy White Station for two performances and wrapped up at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital with the show being broadcast throughout the facility via closed-circuit television.
Thursday afternoon stops included the Bon Aqua Daycare and the Fairview Boys & Girls Club, both near Nashville. The elementary aged children at both stops identified with and enjoyed the efforts of Lights Up!, while the adults expressed great appreciation, commenting on the rarity of these types of visits. One teacher noted her surprise and pleasure that “these Christian students were willing to share with her youngsters.” After 7 performances before over 370 viewers, Lights Up! headed to their temporary home at Nashville’s Tusculum Church of Christ. With much appreciation to Chris Kirby, youth minister, the troupe enjoyed outstanding accommodations and the blessings of Christian hospitality.
Friday offered brilliant (and appreciated) sunshine and an up-and-at-‘em start at Ezell-Harding Christian School. A group of nearly 200 elementary students (definitely the liveliest crowd!) cheered Lights Up! to a grand start to the day. Following this program, a few of Ezell-Harding’s high school drama students arrived for a good discussion of drama options during a Drama Workshop which encouraged all involved. A quick transfer, literally next door, brought the troupe to the KinderCare Pre-school Day Care where all were introduced to “EJ” a most friendly and lively youngster.
One of the most unique and delightful stops was at the Montessori East School in inner-city Nashville. On arrival, Lights Up! found many of the students enjoying the grand weather by planting flowers and vegetables and digging in the dirt. These stops provided some great interaction with the students as most were familiar with some of the material and certainly not shy about participation. After stops at Lipscomb Academy, at both the elementary for a performance and the high school for a drama workshop, the troupe proceeded to the Valor Boys & Girls Club for some contact with middle school students to close the day.
Saturday began with a great stop at the Safe Haven Shelter, a wonderful facility which provides housing for homeless families. The children enjoyed the performance as well as the romping and wrestling which took place before departure. The laughter and glowing faces provided great energy and satisfaction for the efforts of the tour.
After a viewing of “Avengers: Infinity War”, which was not necessarily understood by all involved, the tour began to wind down. One more night at Tusculum led to providing some lessons for both their children’s worship and the youth class.
Arrival at Mustang Mountain came after 84 hours, 1007 miles and 17 performances for about 950 viewers. Many, many blessings were given and received for which we are most thankful. We are grateful to Lights Up! members, Andrew Bowen, Davis Burton, Ean Burton, Aiden Cheatham, Troy Flowers, Jack Hastings, Kara Johnston, Colby Quattlebaum, Jessica Turner, Tess Williams and director Jenna Thomas for their talents and dedication to spreading the Word and God’s Love.
“Three, two, one; story’s done!”
Written by Doug Killgore