COMMUNITY FAMILY PLAYERS
“Connecting youth and community through the performing arts!”
The motto of the Community Family Players is “connecting youth and community through the performing arts.” Our goal is to provide family-oriented theatre experiences for cast, crew and audience members while connecting youth and the community through the performing arts; providing meaningful theatre for the community — and at Christmas to raise money for The Winter Sanctuary (our local shelter for those experiencing homelessness). We do this with wholesome theatre productions emphasizing messages suitable for all ages.
Community Family Players was first founded as “The Chancel Players” in 2016. We changed the name in 2017 to better reflect our connections to both the community and families. In the spring of 2017 we produced our first play, the Broadway musical Godspell. The production was very well received and provided an inspiring and powerful beginning to this new ministry.
In 2019 we partnered with The Winter Sanctuary to produce a high quality production of the timeless holiday story A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens and adapted for stage by Doug McKenzie. This wonderful show was produced for the community to provide a delightful Christmas event; connect youth to the community though the performing arts; and to serve as a major fundraiser for The Winter Sanctuary, our local homeless shelter (all proceeds go to the shelter). After six weeks of rehearsal we performed for three nights on the Memorial Theater stage on December 19, 20 and 21, 2019with a very special Gala event for the shelter during the final show on December 21. The show was well received (with two standing ovations), connected youth to the community and amazingly netted over $31,000 for The Winter Sanctuary’s homeless shelter.
The 2019 production of A Christmas Carol featured twenty nine actors from the community, including thirteen youth/children and featuring local adult actors: Cate Blair-Wilhelm (as Ebeneza Scrooge), Cliff Davis (as Jacob Marley); Michelle Stoneburner (as Ghost of Christmas Past); Susan Kahrl (as Ghost of Christmas Present); Darlene Kurth (as Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come); Shannon Simpson (as Winifred); Robert Bennett (as Kenneth); James Rowlen (as Bob Cratchit) and Courtney DeCosky ( as Mrs. Cratchit).
Sadly the pandemic caused the cancellation of our 2020 production of “A Christmas Carol.” We are, though, very happy to report we have been working on our 2021 production of A Christmas Carol since November 2020 which we expect to include a new script written for Knox County and this project. We plan to begin our six weeks of rehearsals in late October and perform the show in early December. For information about this project please contact our director Rev. Scott Elliott at email@example.com. (Scroll down to learn more about Scott’s theatre background and comments on past productions.)
Below are a few images from our past productions, and more information about who we are.
For more information on Community Family Players please read the notes below these photos of Godspell:
A BROADWAY MUSICAL BASED ON THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW performed March 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 April 1, 2, 2017
WHO WE ARE: Community Family Players was founded in 2016. We are in ministry of the First Congregational Church in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Our hope is to connect youth and community through the performing arts! We provide family oriented theatre experiences for cast, crew and audience members. Wholesome theatre productions, emphasizing messages suitable for all ages would be put together and performed.
The cast and crew in our productions is intended when practical to include a mix of adults and youth from throughout the community. The presence of adults includes, of course, solid production cast and crew members but also to provide in-cast teachers and positive role models for the youth. More importantly, the presence of youth and adults is to provide the opportunity for family and community members to work and play together outside the home and become connected in ways that plays do so well for the cast, crew and audience members. Our goals also include providing a quality Christmas benefit show in partnership with The Winter Sanctuary, our local homeless shelter and help center.
WHAT WE PLAN TO PROVIDE: Community Family Players is expected to provide the following:
- Quality family friendly theatre productions for the local community and visitors to the area
- A place for families to share joy and accomplishment in audience and/or as active participants in theatre productions
- Local youth with opportunities to last a life time while developing the confidence and discipline that comes with participating in, and completing a theatre production
- Local youth a safe place to interact positively with adult community members and to feel appreciation and support for their work and ideas
- Local youth and the community with exposure to the theatre arts and the rich cultural values and experiences such exposure provides
- The community with exposure to youth in positive settings and to show appreciation and support for local youth
- Alternative after school choices to local youth and their families
- Out reach and opportunities for the at risk youth of our community and/or
- A quality Christmas show in partnership with The Winter Sanctuary to benefit members of our community experiencing homelessness.
The impact on the community includes the provision of the expected outcomes set out above, as well as filling the need in the greater Mount Vernon area for positive activities for our youth, and positive interaction between the youth and the community. We hope to be a positive place for our youth to belong, to have fun, to imagine and create, to dare to do new things, to interact with adults, to learn and grow, to work to give to the community and to receive positive responses from the community.
Community Family Players gives opportunities for families to work together and for youth to shine on stage while entertaining folks of all ages in the process. While we have no plans to provide scripted doctrinal messages about life, or religion, or spirituality; we do want the youth to receive one over-riding message: that there is a lot of good in the world and a lot of people who care about them. It is our intent and hope that our actions will not only provide theatre skills and experiences, but give clear resounding messages of love and compassion, of respect and charity, of hope and joy, and of community commitment to positive growth in all of us. We plan to prayerfully and carefully do this by providing community family theatre experiences on and off stage, and of course on stage for audiences.
The youth receive from their participation in the theatre productions a myriad of experiences. Acting requires a great amount of discipline to memorize, rehearse and stick with all of the work that is needed to perform a piece. It makes the actor search her soul for not only an understanding of the written word that forms the literature of a play, but for an understanding of life, and how to breath that life into a character; using whatever she has within and is willing to explore–and then expose. It truly develops character on many levels, and keeps the imagination exercised and in great shape in a day and age where our imaginations are exercised less and less. Actors must learn to articulate words and thoughts. Performers cannot help but learn about different cultures, different fortunes, great literature and other times and other places. Actors learn to better understand emotions and to some extent control them. Actors create on their own, but also must work as a team with others in very emotional settings developing a united work of art. Acting, of course, also requires summoning up great mounds of confidence to speak before crowds.
Theatre is otherwise unique among the arts because it actually often includes all the arts: writing, painting, poetry, sculpture and many times music. This allows participation by youth with varied talents and skills, not just those interested in performing.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about theatre is that when everything is just right the actors and the ensemble can move people in such a profound way both audience and performers remember the act for life.
The blessing we strive to prayerfully be a part of is to give to the community through the arts not only giving youth the opportunities stated above, but to bring the joy of staged live stories to other youth and adults in the community.
For more information on our church go to our website at https://mvucc.org.
For more information on The Winter Sanctuary go to this website http://wintersanctuary.com/
A note about the director of our productions: Rev. Scott Elliott, is somewhat new to the stage in the area, but not to theatre. Scott has been involved in theatre for over 50 years. He has a B.A. in drama, a year of graduate theatre work and teaching fellowship and many years of acting and directing experience. Scott takes a disciplined and classical approach to acting and directing, but his casts also have a lot of fun. Youth involved in Scott’s shows typically laugh, learn a lot, perform well, and find his approach very helpful in subsequent productions. (To give an idea of the positive influence of Scott’s work in past theatre ministries, see the comments below for some reflections by adults and youth.). You may also check out Scott’s sermon on our first production of Godspell which can be found on line on video ( at https://vimeo.com/211214066) and in manuscript form (at https://mvucc.org/the-gospel-in-our-godspell-2/); or checkout his sermon on A Christmas Carol at https://vimeo.com/381063353
Scott on the set of a production of Romeo and Juliet