My Hillside Adventure

by (listed at end)

In 1998 I received an e-mail inviting me to a place I couldn’t have imagined without seeing it for myself. So I packed up the ol’ station wagon and off I went. It was a fall day and I ascended up into the Cumberlands, climbing a beautiful mountain to a plateau of green and gold (with the changing of the leaves) till I saw a big water tower marked Crossville. I finally found this beautiful red barn in the middle of the woods. I did two shows that season, Ain’t Misbehavin’ and Children of Eden. I met some of the most wonderful people whom to this day are still my friends and family. Memories of Miss Mary coming up from the lake house: her kind words and the sharing of her insights. Watching her on stage was like watching theatre royalty–doing it how it should be done. It was magic!

Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t always fun and flowers. It was tough. I call it “Theatre Bootcamp!” In one day you can have a 9:30 show, go to rehearsal and lunch, then perform a totally different show at 2:30, then more rehearsal and dinner and a 7:30 performance of one of the earlier shows. It made me dig deep and get tough fast. But you all did it together, like a family. During the finale of the last performance of Children of Eden, as I fought back the tears, I looked around the stage and there was my new family, all sixty-five hearts, as one, in tears. One month later I came back to teach theatre classes in the TN prison system.

In 2005, the “Gentle Giant,” Jim Crabtree, gave the call of the wild for me to repeat my role in Ain’t Misbehavin’, Big River (where I broke my leg), Into the Woods, and four more shows. In a January snow storm, up the mountain I went. I arrived in the middle of a Big River rehearsal, and that big, rich voice (the Gentle Giant) announced, “The Prodigal Son Returns!” Rehearsal stopped and hugs and introductions ensued. Just like a family reunion! I felt like a king returning to his kingdom! We did seven shows in eight months.

In one word … CCP is Family!

Tony D. Owens Jr.

© 2015 Tony D. Owens Jr.
Used by Permission