The Midland Players are set to open their production of “Murder in Music City” this week at the Midland Lodge.
The theater company has been around since 2013 and typically does two productions a year as benefits for people in need.
“Murder in Music City” features the Midland Players’ newest cast member — a 14 year old Calvary student who sings and plays the ukulele in the show.
Sandy Dawson, head of the Midland Players, recently corresponded with arts reporter Carrie Beth Wallace to discuss how the group was founded, their new production and the ways the proceeds raised from each show benefit local charities.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How long have the Midland Players been around? How long have you been involved?
A: We performed our first show as the “Midland Mystery Players” in September 2013 with the show “Murder at the Longbranch Saloon,” which was written by J.J.Musgrove. We started with a few interested players and grew from there. I was involved from the start since I was not only the costumer, but acting in that and subsequent shows. The shows have always featured humor along with intrigue — a great mix for a dinner show!
Q: You mentioned several ways that you are involving members of the community. Can you speak to this in more detail?
A: Yes, for sure. These shows are not produced for profit, if so the tickets would be priced much higher. Everyone involved is a volunteer and as such they enjoy working for the benefit of the group and our charities. We have always looked to the community for volunteers in kitchen, as servers, and as actors. Our largest group of volunteers comes from the masons, especially Midland Lodge and they let us use their facility. The husbands and wives of the group help decorate and cook. Our servers come from organizations like the Ladies of Damascus way, the kids from the International Order of Rainbow Girls, the boys of the Order of Demolay, and whoever else we can find that need community service points for their school or organization.
Q: Does the show contain a lot of original music? Who has composed these songs?
A: Yes — our first shows were strictly non-musical and relied on humor and story weaving and intrigue. Those were: “Murder at the Longbranch Saloon,” “Murder on the Loveboat,” “Murder in Mayberry” and “Halloween Hotel Horror.” Since those were performed we wrote and produced “Murder at the Soda Shop,” “Murder in Mayberry — the musical,” “Murder on the Riverboat Queen,” “Murder at the High School Reunion,” and now we are presenting “Murder in Music City” — all musicals. Dan, my husband, wrote the scripts and music for those shows.
Q: Tell me a little bit more about the 14-year-old lead who plays the ukulele? She’s a Calvary student? How did you find her?
A: Katelyn McCormick is a 14-year-old student from Calvary Christian who plays our ingenue in our current show. A friend of a friend was visiting my costume shop not long ago and said that she might know a young lady that could be perfect for the role. We contacted her and sure enough she was talented and eager to be a part of the show. Yes, she plays the ukulele in the show and is budding talent for sure. Katelyn is a ninth grader at Calvary Christian School and is a member of the Springer Theatre Academy.
Q: Are there any other youth in the show?
A: Our stage manager for this show is another young lady named Abby McCool, who attends Northside High School.
Q: Anything else you’d like for our readers to know?
A: Well, let’s just say that we have a lot of fun doing this, and wouldn’t have any other way. When it starts getting to feel like work we’ll probably do something a lot different. So far our audiences have enjoyed our shows and the volunteers have a good time too. We donate most of our proceeds to Damascus Way, Rainbow Girls, Demolay Boys, and those that need a helping hand.
If you go
What: ‘Murder in Music City’
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 29 and 30
Where: Midland Lodge, 8701 Garrett Road, Midland.
Cost: $30 per person with proceeds benefiting local charities.
Call: Tickets available online at www.freshtix.com and locally at Creatively Yours Costumes at 2100 18th Ave., Columbus. Contact 706-662-5812 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.