Musical makeover

December 06, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

Antietam Recreation's Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas has a new story line this year ? a musical one ? and a new roper.

But don't worry. Roper Andy Rotz is still performing his tricks, whether it's with a rope, bullwhip or knives.

The new roper is an 8-year-old member of the Texas Tumbleweeds, one of the acts in the traveling Wild West show that is a major component of Antietam Recreation's musical "Christmas Reborn."

The show is the featured program among the festivities held most Friday and Saturday nights through Jan. 5, 2008, at Antietam Recreation on Garis Shop Road, south of Hagerstown.

The musical is a mixture of spoken dialogue, singing and specialty acts with a family-friendly story about feuding ranchers and a young girl who questions her faith in God.


Sarah Shirk, 8, doesn't jump through rope loops or spin a lasso while standing atop a horse ? as Rotz does ? but she does show off her new ability to twirl a lasso as part of the Tumbleweeds.

The Texas Tumbleweeds feature Sarah and her older sisters, Rebekah, 17, and Kaitlyn, 14, all of whom are home-schooled and live in Clear Spring. Their parents, Wendy and Charles "White" Shirk, also help with the production.

Rebekah worked at Antietam Recreation's day camp this past summer doing tumbling for shows to entertain school groups. The Rotz family asked her to be a part of the annual Christmas show.

When she mentioned she had two sisters who also have gymnastic skills, the Texas Tumbleweeds act was born.

Mary Rotz, whose family owns Antietam Recreation, said the Shirk sisters provide a new component to the show. Rotz said it's good to get young people involved. Rebekah and Kaitlyn are working on a few things, including a front handspring, that could be added to the show later.

Rebekah and Kaitlyn do much of the dancing and gymnastics with Sarah joining in occasionally.

Learning how to twirl a lasso was amazing, said Sarah, who learned from Andy Rotz.

Rotz still holds the Guinness world record for doing 11,123 consecutive Texas skips, where he spins a vertical rope loop and jumps back and forth through it, said his mother, Mary Rotz. He did it in three hours and 10 minutes on March 11, 2003, in Las Vegas.

Rotz's younger brother Tim, 19, plays a major part in the musical, singing several songs.

Tim Rotz said he appreciated the opportunity to sing and would like to do more directing in the future.

Tim Rotz also does Elvis impersonations, he said, but not during this show. He'd like to take his Elvis show on the road during Antietam Rec's off-season.

The music for "Christmas Reborn" was written by Rob Hovermale, visual and performing arts coordinator for Washington County Public Schools, with lyrics by his wife, Suzy. Niki Perini directed the production.

Antietam Recreation's Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas show starts with cowboy activities such as hayrides, marshmallow roasting and posing for Western photos. Dinner is beef brisket, baked potato, corn bread, baked beans, applesauce, apple cobbler with ice cream, and beverages.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Christmas Reborn" Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas dinner and show

WHEN: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 21 and 28, and Saturdays, Dec. 22 and 29 and Jan. 5. Dates might be added. Call 301-797-7999 for more information.

WHERE: Antietam Recreation, 9745 Garis Shop Road, south of Hagerstown

COST: $29.70 for adults; $19.80 for ages 3 to 12; $27.50 for ages 60 and older. Taxes included. Ages 2 and younger are not permitted.

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown, take Md. 65 south of Hagerstown. Turn left on Wagaman Road (just past Food Lion). Follow Wagaman Road to the first stop sign. Turn right on Garis Shop Road. Antietam Recreation will be about one-quarter mile on the left.

MORE: For more information, call 301-797-7999, e-mail or go to

"Christmas Reborn"


Andy Rotz as himself

Dave Long as Sheriff Wilber

Janice Hose as Matilda Crabshaw

Ashley Siebeichen or Sheridan Webb as Rose Morgan

Jim Hutson as Jim Harper

Barry Harbaugh as Roy

Keith Sandell as Butch

Tim Rotz as Bill Harper

Scott Haupt as Festus

Jim McMahon as Frank Morgan

Leah Harrell or Johnna Stoup as Maggie

Johnna Stoup, Alexis Barone, Kristine Neiman, Ryan Smetzer, Ashley Siebeichen, Kylie Stoup, Sarah Shirk and Cory Householder as orphans

Ed Wallman, Lee Webb, Kevin Sandell, Mark Sandell, Scott Haupt and Brian Sandell as outlaws

Brooks Rohrer as announcer

Rebekah Shirk, Kaitlyn Shirk and Sarah Shirk as the Texas Tumbleweeds


Susanna Allen, script writer

Niki Perini and Tim Rotz, directors

Rob Hovermale, original music

Suzy Hovermale, original lyrics

Bob Rotz and Bruce Hartman, sound crew

Bill Rotz, Charles "White" Shirk, Wendy Shirk, John Stoup and Bob Hose, lighting crew

Rob Hovermale and Rachel Reno, live music

Kevin Walck, technical assistant

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