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Posted: October 15, 2009 5:10 p.m.

Stories From the Well

The Social Circle Theater recounts actual city history through musical performance

Submitted photo/

(L-R) Amber Hill, Michelle Cole and Alancia Porter sing in the finale song, "This Little Light of Mine," during the production of "Stories From the Well: Let it Shine," written and produced by the Social Circle Theater.

The Social Circle Theater’s production, "Stories from the Well: Let it Shine" will open tonight and run through October 25. The non-profit community theater was founded in 2000 by Bob and Mabel Standridge in an effort to unify the community through live local theater.

Via storytelling, acting and singing, the theater takes patrons back in time, showing them what life was like in years past. Theater Manager Tera Duval and Artistic Director and Stage Manager Ricky Hall have worked with the cast for the past eight weeks to present 14 vignettes based on actual stories from the 1930s and 1940s. Garden clubs, neighborhood swimming holes and baptisms are brought to life by actors ranging from age 2 to 84. This year’s theme is finding your talents and sharing them.

Sue and Bill Delaune and Connie Cannon wrote the music and lyrics to the four original songs in the play.

Fifteen children from age 2 to 8 portray frogs as they sing and dance in costume. Main characters are the garden club ladies, a quilter named Mamie Belle, and Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs who invite children to swim in their pond. Two of Mamie Belle’s quilts will be on display in the foyer.

Show times are Fridays, Oct. 16 and 23, at 7 p.m.; Saturdays, Oct. 17 and 24 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays, Oct. 18 and 25, at 3 p.m. Doors open 30 minutes prior to show times.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and students and $10 tickets for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased online, at the door or by phone. Enjoy lunch or dinner at the Blue Willow Inn Restaurant on the day of the show for a 20 percent discount off the meal with proof of ticket.

Beth Wells, daughter of Bob and Mabel Standridge, is president of the board and shares her family’s vision for building unity and community spirit.

"We go out and find stories about people who have lived here for a long time," said Wells. "We have a public reading where the community is invited to attend and give feedback."

Wells said the three scenes with the garden club ladies are progressively comical. Another favorite is the baptism scene featuring, "Take Me to the Water," written by the late Nina Simone.

Playwright and Director Sue Lee begins interviewing eight months in advance to gather stories and weaves them together. As they evolve to become a full themes, Wells and Lee pick which stories will work best. Designer Patsy Eggers has made all the costumes for the past 10 years. Girls and ladies are outfitted in cotton dresses and aprons. Men and boys wear flannel shirts, dark pants or overalls.

"Our town has a strong Christian heritage so the stories evolve and become a spiritual journey," said Wells who has over 100 transcripts from the Social Circle community. "Sue is a strong Christian and I was blessed for her to become our playwright four years ago. God has definitely led us to be more focused in searching out spiritual stories."

In their ninth season, the theater draws cast from Social Circle, Covington, Conyers, Madison and McDonough. The Standridge family shows their appreciation by hosting a dinner party for the cast and their family.

Michelle Cole, a fourth grade teacher at Palmer Stone Elementary School, has volunteered at the Social Circle Theater since 2005. She originally brought her two children, Cameron and Sarah, and was coaxed to join the cast.

Cole will deliver the Mars Hill Baptist Church monologue, will portray a judge for the Junior Garden Club in the opening and is in the remembrances. Daughter Sarah, who enjoys singing but says she isn’t ready for a speaking part, plays a frog in the second act.

"Come and they will find a spot for you," said Cole. "If you like what you see, get involved. If they don’t already have a part that will fit with what you want to do, they will create one for you."

The Social Circle Theater is located at Hightower Trail in Social Circle. For more information about plays, workshops, and other theater events, call (770) 464-2269 or visit www.socialcircletheater.com.

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