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Busy week ahead for Playhouse
Holiday productions offer music, dance
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Forsyth County News

 This month at the Cumming Playhouse:

* “Christmas Through the Ages” -- 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday

* "Note Worthy Show Band of the South" -- 8 p.m. Thursday

* “Christmas Around the World” -- 8 p.m. Saturday

* "Home for the Holidays" -- 8 p.m. Dec. 22

* Russo and Noe - New Year's Eve Concert -- 8 p.m. Dec. 31

* Tickets: All shows are $15 except the New Year’s Eve show, which is $25.

* Contact: (770) 781-9178 or

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the Cumming Playhouse.

As "Sanders Family Christmas" finishes its two-week run today, the theater in downtown Cumming still has much more in store through the month.

“One of our goals at the playhouse is to allow for local talent and to really build performing arts at the grassroots,” said Linda Heard, playhouse director.

“These local people work very hard and we like having this time in our schedule to showcase them, especially around Christmas.”

Among the local performers are the Cumming Playhouse Singers and the Note Worthy Show Band of the South.

The show band is the latest venture for Bob Russell, who also directs the Sounds of Sawnee Concert Band, the Mood Swingers and the Senior Follies.

The 11-member big band will make its Cumming debut Thursday at the playhouse, just two days after its first public performance.

Russell said the show will include Christmas selections, but with a jazz and swing style.

“We will be doing swing arrangements of a lot of Christmas songs," he said. "It’s always a gamble ... but we feel good about it.

“There’s a little bit more activity on the bandstand than there would be in normal bands. We would encourage people to go dancing in the aisles if they wanted to.”

For a sure bet, Heard said to bank on the sixth annual performance of “Christmas Through the Ages” on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The show was the first holiday performance at the playhouse. Though it’s changed names over the years, it’s still the same show people that draws folks every year, Heard said.

The music ranges from medieval to modern.

“What we find is that people love traditional Christmas,” she said. “They look forward to coming to see a show that reminds them of what Christmas used to be.”

The show will feature several musicians from the 60-member Cumming Playhouse Singers. For the whole ensemble, the singers will perform “Home for the Holidays” on Dec. 22.

For a taste of how Christmas is celebrated in India, Korea, France or Russia, Heard suggested traveling to the playhouse Dec. 19 for “Christmas Around the World.”

The show features multicultural performances with the common theme of the birth of Jesus Christ.

“One of the things we’ll have is traditional fan dancing by the Korean fan dancers," she said. "I have seen them and it is the most beautiful presentation.

“The thought behind the show is the birth of Christ was something that is known around the world ... and in some form or fashion, it is celebrated around the world.”

Those who attend the Note Worthy Show Band of the South will see a familiar face if they return to the playhouse ring in 2010.

Gabe Russo, who will be one of two vocalists during the show band performance, will return with Jim Noe for a New Year’s Eve concert Dec. 31.

Unlike the Christmas show, Russo this time will take the audience back to the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas circa early 1960s. The duo recreates the Rat Pack days with humor, tuxedos and big band music.

The show will run until 10 p.m., after which guests are invited downstairs to Tam’s Backstage restaurant to greet the new year, Heard said.

This month has been the playhouse’s busiest Christmas season, but expectations are high for 2010.

“It will be our best season we’ve ever had, and it’s packed full from January to December,” Heard said.