Musical combines melodies with message

December 08, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A musical that blends scripture, angels, shepherds and the Holy Family with Colonel Sanders, Gomer Smile, Major Minor and other quirky characters is coming together as the Friendship Company rehearses.

Friendship Company, the children's music and drama troupe of Otterbein Church, has been practicing "Operation Christmas Child" since October, according to director Dave Besecker.

The play was written with the cooperation of Samaritan's Purse to help promote and educate people about the group's worldwide distribution of Christmas shoe boxes to disadvantaged children.


The story is set in a make-believe military base where Unit 12-25 receives a special assignment to deliver a large amount of Christmas packages to an unknown Christmas Child.

Micki Shew, wearing bib overalls, portrays Gomer Smile.

Sergeant Smarter is played by Camille Sprecher, 12, a student at Grace Academy in Hagerstown. A veteran of two plays, Camille said that this one is "really fun," and that it has a good message. "I think people who come will get something out of it," she said during a break in Wednesday's rehearsal.

Camille has one of the largest speaking parts, and said it was "somewhat hard" to learn all her lines.

Cody Motz, 9, playing Elvis Presby, wears a convincing Elvis wig and said he picked up Elvis's drawl on his own.

Wearing a white suit, Andrew Heibeck plays Colonel Sanders, who paces the stage while talking on his cell phone, which clucks.

The performance is part of Otterbein's effort to collect more than 1,000 shoe boxes to send to Samaritan's Purse for distribution around the world.

Boxes are packed with small, inexpensive toys and personal items.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a packed shoe box to the performance.

Boxes will be delivered to Samaritan's Purse in Boone, N.C.

The musical is choreographed by John Piper.

Other cast members include Karina Anderson, Valerie Barber, Sarah Churchman, Catherine Deatrich, Rachel Eyler, Megan Gabrielson, Kathryn Graham, Benjamin Hockman, Grace Horochowski, Taryn Houpt, Sara Kunze, Maggie McGahen, Casey Petrie, Kelly Petrie, Hannah Piper, Chandler Reed, Brittany Reynolds, Beth Schuurman, Emily Seifarth, Chris Seyler, Tericca Shelton, Julie Sipes, Julianna Smith, Rachel Ward and Olivia Wolfe.

If you go ...

What: Christmas musical, Operation Christmas Child. Admission is free.

When: Saturday, Dec. 10, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 7 p.m.

Saturday's 3 p.m. performance is designed especially for senior citizens who do not want to drive at night and for residents of area retirement or nursing homes.

Where: Otterbein Ministry Center, 912 S. Potomac St., Waynesboro.

For more information about the performances, directions to the church or how to pack a shoe box that you can bring to one of the performances, call Otterbein Church at 717-762-7147 or visit

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