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Chip's Blog

A Landmark Change At Ragtown Gospel Theater

By October 21, 2020 No Comments

Our 45th production, our joyful Christmas classic, Say Nicklaus! will be different from all those that have come before it. It will be the first Ragtown production that Glenn Polk has entrusted to another director. Christopher Smith, well known to Ragtown audiences, having filled major roles in six productions since 2014, is not only directing, but will be returning to his role as the irascible school headmaster, Cornelius Houchen.

Sarah Smith has been assisting her husband in casting this year’s production. Nine children are in the show, their ages ranging from 6 to 16, but finding the first two was easy— the eldest two of Chris and Sarah’s four boys. Sarah will also return to her role as Ula Goiterflaven, Headmaster Houchen’s long-suffering, utterly smitten assistant. When Sarah last played Ula, in our 2017 production of Say Nicklaus, the audience was unaware that she was seven months along with their third boy, Cohen—who we’re confident will be cast when we stage it again in 2027. Michael Williams, another veteran of numerous Ragtown shows, most recently portraying Cooney in Ragtown the Musical, is also assisting Chris and is part of the cast as well.

Another change—the roles of Nicklaus and Meena Elliffe this year will be played by Travis Burge and Hope Sisemore. Travis, who has extensive credentials on the stage, including being the understudy for David Gaschen in Phantom of the Opera, absolutely captivated the Ragtown audience as Satan in our 2018 production of Bethlehem. We are delighted by the addition of Hope Sisemore to a Ragtown cast for the fist time. She teaches Theater Arts at Trinity High School.

Glenn Polk is extremely grateful for the commitment of each of these gifted people who are stepping into roles he and Twila would normally fill, giving him sufficient time for rehab and recovery after he undergoes an extensive spinal operation scheduled for early November. As most who attend our shows know, Glenn has had several back procedures over the course of the past several years. His condition has continued to deteriorate, and he was ultimately referred to a surgeon in Dallas who is confident that the procedure he has recommended will give Glenn a good chance of recovering his mobility and reducing, if not eliminating his pain, which has been chronic and severe for years.

We are praying for that outcome, and ask you to join us in that. Those of us who realized the discomfort he was in have been amazed by Glenn’s determination to do the work he was called to do. Watching him dancing in Elijah, Clash of the Prophets, or cavorting on the roof of the Commissary in Ragtown the Musical you might not have realized what a testimony of dependence on the Lord that was. I’m confident that his determination, his devotion to the Lord, and his love for the people who attend our shows will bring him roaring back to stage in no time.

Of course, this remains a disquieting time for the whole country, but with this additional challenge and trepidation, your prayers and your support are so deeply appreciated. God has been amazing in the many ways He has preserved this unique ministry time after time. Even in this, we are able to see a path revealed, not only through this present uncertainty, but beyond, into the future of the ministry of Ragtown Gospel Theater. Splendidly gifted young people whose hearts are united with ours in the mission of this theater have been placed around us just when we needed them. We are so thankful.

Please start making your plans to come see this beautiful and heart-warming production. Chris and his cast are working very hard to make it surpass your highest expectations. I know they will. I don’t believe we’ve ever had as many extraordinarily talented people in a musical. I guarantee you’re going to love it.

Oh, and we couldn’t have a production at Ragtown Gospel Theater without at least one Polk in the cast. Our grandson, Nixon, will be stepping up to handle that responsibility as one of the children at State Home for Children #13. It won’t be the first time Nixon has had his name in the credits of a Ragtown production. He was the voice of the baby Jesus in every production of Bethlehem, and in Rhapsody of Angels. We recorded him crying when he was just a few days old, and that little cry, coming just at the moment of the birth of Jesus, remains one of the most memorable and touching parts of any Ragtown production.

Of course, I’ll be joined by some special people for a Christmas concert to start things off. Please keep praying for us! We’ll be praying for you. We’ll be looking forward to seeing you come through the doors at Ragtown for this wonderful play.

What A Day Of Rejoicing That Will Be!