The 2012 production by the Lyons Better Hometown Association of the Tales from the Altamaha at the popular Blue Marquee Theater, in Lyons, was another rousing success. Sellout crowds gave remarkable applause to this year’s exciting performance Front Porches, Rocking Chairs and Sweet Tea.
B. J. and I have missed only one enactment in the eight years that the Tales from the Altamaha has been running. Crowds gather from far and near to thrill to the enjoyment and enthusiasm of the award-winning Georgia folk-life play. If you haven’t seen this outstanding show, you have missed something special. If you want to get a reserve seat, you need to order early.
The origin for T. Ross Sharpe’s Tales from the Altamaha was a series of occasional articles published in the weekly newspaper The Lyons Progress between 1955 and 1965. Sharpe was a noted attorney and, as southerners are prone to say, “born and raised” on the bank of Georgia’s largest river, the Altamaha.
T. Ross Sharpe knew the river, land and the people and delighted in telling the stories he had heard as a boy and passing on some stories of his own. Many of the essays deal with “humorous happenings of by-gone days.” But Tales from the Altamaha is much more than a collection of funny stories. They portray folk-life, folk-lore, social relations, economic development and the local history of the Altamaha and the land that Sharpe loved. The compositions are written in a style of an astute storyteller and cover a span of more than 150 years from the arrival of the pioneers to the advent of a nuclear power plant on the majestic river.
The Tales offer an insight into the world first discovered by Baxley native and Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Miller in her 1934 novel Lamb in His Bosom.
I knew T. Ross Sharpe personally and I too grew up near the Altamaha and take great delight in the productions of Tales from the Altamaha.
B. J. and I along with our friends, Dave and Gail Eason, from Lake Mayers near Graham, Ga. arrived early at the notable Blue Marquee Theater in Lyons. While waiting for the doors to open and seating to begin we chatted with other folks who had gathered. B. J. and I like to get there in time to hobnob with the folks. Both of us grew up here. B. J. graduated from Lyons High School in 1960; therefore, going to the Tales in a kind of homecoming for us.
My and B. J.’s reserve seats this year were front row center. We were as close as we could get to the goings-on without actually being on stage (I believe our friend and playwright Laurie Jo Upchurch may have had something to do with this).
We knew that it was nearing show time when the remarkable and renowned River Rat Review Bluegrass Band took its place and began strumming sprightly tunes. Shortly thereafter, the lovely, talented and vivacious playwright for the Tales, Laurie Jo Upchurch stirred the audience with a stimulating song that signaled the start of the show. The name of the song is Old Southern Porches written by Blue Grass performer Dee Ann Bradley. Laurie Jo did it up right. The Audience loved it.
The cast was tiptop! Rick Berry, an original cast member and a veteran actor cast in the roll of Col. T. Ross Sharpe, made the Tales come alive. He is great!
Another singer and original cast member that always thrills us is Diane McBride. B. J. and I have known Diane and her husband Melvin most of their lives. Diane is a professional musician and the choir director for the Lyons First United Methodist Church. She is great! The entire cast performed superbly!
After the show, B. J. and I had opportunity for a few minutes to visit with Laurie Jo, who also lives near the Appling County bank of the Altamaha with her husband Kenneth and daughter Triniti, and she introduced us to the new director of the Lyons Better Hometown Association, Alexa Britton. The Lyons Better Hometown Association Sponsors Tales from the Altamaha and Alexa is doing a great job as director.
Thank you, Laurie Jo, for your dedication to Tales from the Altamaha. We are already looking forward to next year.