By Susanne Reynolds
Bainbridge State College
Three Bainbridge State College employees are hitting the stage this weekend as part of the cast of The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, directed by Martha Mobley, at Bainbridge Little Theatre.
Pamela Barnes, Bainbridge State College Student Life Director, will be portraying the role of Miss Emma Staples, one of the sisters famous around the mountain for making their secret “recipe” or bootleg whiskey.
Barnes is not a newcomer to the stage. She has been in various plays and musicals since the age of five—and she holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre from Gainesville Theatre Alliance, North Georgia’s Premier Theatre School.
Like Barnes, Thad Nifong, BSC adjunct instructor, has been in countless plays and musicals since an early age. He has studied acting, directing, set design, costume design, prop making and stage managing while in college at both Hillsborough Community College in Tampa and at Florida State University where he was a theatre major.
Nifong is the stage manager for The Homecoming.
He believes the arts have a major impact on the community.
“You need a well-rounded and diverse community to attract residents and for the economic stability of a community,” said Nifong. “Arts organizations bring in a large amount of funds into a community. Hotels, restaurants and retail stores of all types benefit from the influx of visitors that attend theatre and arts events.”
For Nifong being a part of theatre has been a “saving outlet.”
He explained, “I was an awkward child and when I discovered theatre and the release of anxiety it can have on a person gave me the outlet I was searching for when I may have turned to something devastating. It still gives me joy and satisfaction to this day.”
In addition to Barnes and Nifong, BSC Police Chief, James Spooner will be making his theatrical debut on Thursday. The Homecoming: A Christmas Story will be his first play. He will be portraying the role of the Sheriff.
He said, “I’ve always enjoyed live theatre—it’s much more engaging than movies or television and I find myself really focused on the story.”
Spooner has always had the thought of auditioning for a show with Bainbridge Little Theatre, but the time never seemed to be right—until now.
Since Barnes and Spooner both work at Bainbridge State College, they became friends and Barnes encouraged him to audition for a part in the Christmas play.
“From my point of view, participating in Bainbridge Little Theatre is a way to be a part of something bigger than yourself and give our community the opportunity to enjoy live productions,” said Spooner. “For many people in the area, this theatre may be their only chance at live theatre—and the best part is that ticket sales go back into the theatre. And it’s a great way to have fun, make new friends and take a break from “everyday” life.”
By being a part of The Homecoming cast, the BSC employees have taken a message from the experience.
Barnes learned to never give up hope.
She said, “This story teaches us to never give up hope and that miracles do happen.”
From the show, Nifong gained the appreciation that it does not “take much in life to be happy.”
“You must look beyond material things and look at what you have in those who love and appreciate you for who and what you are,” he said.
Spooner learned to take chances and branch out of his comfort zone.
“The biggest message I have taken away from this experience is to never be afraid to try something new,” he said. “You never will know how much you will like it unless you give it a try.”
The Homecoming: A Christmas Story will premiere on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Other dates are as follow: Dec. 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 6 at 2:30 p.m. For ticket information, please call 229.246.8345 or visit www.bainbridgelittletheatre.com.