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Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
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Musical theatre fundraiser set at PHCC
‘Growing Up Gospel’ opens Sept. 4
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Courtesy Photo: Demi Richardson, held by Robbie Hendrix, from left, and Kimberly Hairston, held by Brandon Martin, practice a lift during rehearsal for the show “Growing Up Gospel: Music Revue.”

Monday, September 1, 2014

The community is invited to a free, give-what-you-can fundraising show at Patrick Henry Community College that presents traditional, contemporary and modern gospel performed within musical theatre.

"Growing Up Gospel: Music Revue" will open on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. with an additional performance on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. in Walker Fine Arts Theatre on PHCC's campus.

Director Devin Pendleton said it's a "very musical theatre-style revue" with all the gospel songs the community has grown up singing in church.

"Church choirs may not feel they have a place in musical theatre -- they may think they can't perform on stage," Pendleton said. "This revue lets them connect to the community on another level. Gospel music is powerful. It can impact you emotionally, mentally and spiritually."

Some of the numbers performed in the revue include "Battlefield," "For Every Mountain," "Now Behold the Lamb," and "Shackles."

"This is a way for me to show my support for community theatre," said Pamela Wall, a performer in "Growing Up Gospel." "I do a lot of plays and not a lot of musicals, so this is a chance for me to use my voice. These songs weren't that familiar to me. It's not what I grew up singing. It's been an awesome experience to learn all the new music."

Performer Heather Minter said, "I just enjoy Jesus. How could I not be part of a show about Jesus? Being in this has been a lot of fun, and it's just uplifting to come in from work and sing and dance to music about Jesus. I feel so uplifted going home after rehearsal."

For one cast member, participating in this show has been a healing process. Michelle Johnson-Epps is singing in her first musical since battling breast cancer.

"I recently finished with chemo, and I have my good days and bad days," she said, "but this is the best way to start feeling better. I took a chance, knowing my immune system was still weak, but I'm feel very blessed to have gotten through everything. Healing is a process."

Patriot Players Director Jane Leizer said with everything PHCC has been through in the past several weeks, this show serves as a chance to reflect and move forward.

"We've been through changes, reconstruction and the loss of our coworkers," she said. "This show is all about tolerance, love and acceptance of who we are. We have an amazing group of people in this show, and we're so excited to bring it to the community."

The suggested donation for the show is $5, but Pendleton said audience members are welcome to give what they can.  

"Making theatre affordable is a main goal of the Patriot Players," Pendleton said. "It takes out the excuse of 'I can't go because it's too expensive.' This is a great opportunity for everyone to see the talent we have in our community."

The cast includes Wall, Minter, Johnson-Epps, Erica Becker, Valeria Edwards, Kimberly Hairston, Robbie Hendrix, Brandon Martin, Christy Pulliam, Demi Richardson, Charlotte Spencer and Lori Lowe, who is an adult career coach at PHCC.

To find out more, visit or call (276) 638-8777, ext. 0460.

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