Mt. Juliet artist’s work on display at Nashville International Airport

Jeff Brockett works on a piece at his Mt. Juliet studio.

Cedric Dent Jr.

Special to the News

Woodturning artist Jeff Brockett spent decades becoming an expert on his craft, and his latest milestone positions 13 of his basket illusions on display at the Flying Solo Artist exhibit in the Nashville International Airport.

Beyond the security checkpoints but on the way to baggage claim, some of those leaving but especially those arriving in Nashville last month, this month or next month will notice an array of what might appear from a distance to be shallow bowls or plates embellished with eye-catching designs. These are, in fact, wooden pieces of art, deceptively turned on a lathe and burned with painstakingly precise designs.

Since 1996, the airport has held a quarterly, juried exhibition series in the most visible part of its secure terminal for some of Tennessee’s most captivating art, dubbing it the Flying Solo Exhibition Series. Brockett’s platters are the latest pieces to showcase in the series after having been judged against many other works by a panel of arbiters who opted to draw from Tennessee’s uniquely deep pool of woodturning artists.

The juried exhibit requires all artists to formally apply in order for their works to be considered, and the panel picks a single artist for the exhibit. For Brockett, a minimum of 10 pieces were needed to fill the exhibit, and he contributed 13 in total, about eight of which are for sale — the other five having already been sold prior to display. The price of a piece depends on size and design complexity, ranging anywhere from $100 to $800.

Brockett’s artwork is on display at Nashville International Airport.

Brockett’s pieces have been seen at the TEDx Studio, also called Studio 208, in downtown Nashville as well as several other juried exhibits whose processes were similar to the Flying Solo Exhibition Series. Among them were the Custom House’s Best of Tennessee Exhibit in Clarksville for which he won the Merit Award and Centennial Arts’s Best in Middle Tennessee Exhibit.

Brockett’s concentration as a woodturner is on basket illusions, a specific design pattern that woodturners sometimes employ to illustrate seemingly impossibly intricate designs. It’s based on Native American basket weaving, which involved exceptionally creative patterns. Lincoln Seltzer was the first known woodturner to imitate that creative process on wooden platters, so the history of these kinds of designs dates back hundreds of years even through Portuguese colonization.

The expertise of woodturning art is discerned based on the quality of the woodwork, the thematic imagery implied by the colors applied and how the platter feels in one’s hands. Mastery of the craft is also partly measured by the lack of errant marks and smudges, too, but Brockett further distinguishes his work a bit by deliberately endeavoring to make it as impossible as he can for even an astute observer to figure out how he the piece in question was lathed.

“I like to really look at the back of pieces,” Brockett said. “I want the person that picks that piece up to look at it and say, ‘How in the world did he put that on the lathe and turn it?’ I’ve gone from a satin finish to a gloss finish because I think gloss looks better on these pieces because they’re more art than functional.”

Woodturning is a craft that produces functional pieces with purpose like doorknobs or tool handles or lamps, but the art form associated with it is widely popular the world over. In the U.S., the American Association of Woodturners boasts of multiple

Woodturning is Brockett’s retirement hobby.

chapters in each state. In Tennessee alone, there are 12 official chapters, including the Tennessee Association of Woodturners and Duck River Woodturners, located in Brentwood and Columbia respectively. Brockett is member to both of them among other local woodturning organizations.

“There’s three or four of the top woodturners in the world that live within 15 minutes of here,” Brockett said, referring to his home in northern Mt. Juliet. “You’ve got John Jordan who lives down in Cane Ridge. If you’re going to say who’s the top 10 people in the world, he’s one of them. Then, Pat Matranga lives in Mt. Juliet not too far from here. John Lucas lives over in Baxter.”

For Brockett, woodturning art is a retirement hobby. He worked for Target most of his adult life, managing and even launching stores, and through woodturning, he channeled a natural affinity for art shared by his wife and daughter. His wife is a stained-glass artist, and his daughter teaches art at the collegiate level in Texas.

Stories & Strings for Dreams to benefit Empower Me

Music stars are set to hit the stage June 15 at the Capitol Theatre for the Stories & Strings for Dreams event to benefit Empower Me. 

The evening of music will feature a songwriter’s round and a concert. It will also include hors d’oeuvres, cash bar and silent auction.

“We are so excited to have these amazing musicians showcase their talents for all of us to enjoy. We are grateful to each of these artists who are helping us raise funds for our programs to enhance the lives of our individuals with disabilities,” said Empower Me executive director Michelle Hill.

The event emcee will be LuLu Roman, who is best known as the most-requested woman cast member on the long running hit television show, “Hee Haw.” With a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Roman is also known for her accomplished and celebrated songwriting, singing and sense of humor around the the world.

The songwriter’s round will include Kayley Hill and Lebanon’s own Kason Lester. Hill participated in season 15 of NBC’s “The Voice.” She is currently working on recording her debut EP, and recently released her new single, “Just Thought You Should Know.” Her sound was compared to Jewel, Dolly Parton and Patty Griffin, while she incorporates her own fresh take on country music.

Lester was born and raised in Lebanon. Taking a little bit of country and a little bit of rock n’ roll, as a singer-songwriter, Lester combines Southern roots with rock vibes to create his own unique sound. Lester made the top 40 on American Idol this year and continues to perform across the country.

After the songwriter’s round ends, a concert will take place, featuring Ricky Cook and Linda Davis.    

Born and raised in Oakdale, Cook was a sought-after American saddlebred champion horse trainer before he pursued his musical career. Cook started writing songs at 7 years old thanks to the encouragement and advice of his songwriter grandmother. Other lifelong influences like Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn inspired him to work toward success. Cook’s first single, “Thanks A Lot Loretta,” from the debut CD of the same title, paid homage to his mentor and broke into the country chart. His second release is currently climbing the charts on country radio. 

Best known for her hit “Does He Love You” with country superstar Reba McEntire, which earned her a Grammy for best vocal collaboration, Davis is well known as a song stylist around Music City. Through the year, the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame member has played to sold-out crowds with the likes of Garth Brooks, George Strait, McEntire, and Kenny Rogers just to name a few. In 2016, Davis and her family, including husband Lang Scott, and daughters, Hillary Scott, of Lady Antebellum, and Rylee Scott, released the critically acclaimed, two-time Grammy winning album, Hillary Scott and the Scott Family – Love Remains.

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $50 for reserved-table seating. Some sponsorship opportunities are also still available. Visit to buy tickets and support Empower Me. 

Empower Me has served more than 10,000 children and young adults with disabilities over the past 21 years. The individuals have various disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, cancer, ADHD, Bipolar disorder, blindness, deafness, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder from physical or sexual abuse. Empower Me offers them a summer camp and other year-round opportunities to enjoy their lives in a supportive and loving environment. For more information about Empower Me, visit 

Fry’s Productions presents ‘I Put a Spell on You’ video

By Angie Mayes

Mt. Juliet News Correspondent

Derek Fry, founder and director of Fry Productions, has brought another well-known song to life in a live-action video.

Fresh off the heals of the well-liked remake of the “Thriller” video, a cover of the song made famous by Michael Jackson in 1983, Fry produced a version of  “I Put A Spell On You” from the movie, “Hocus Pocus.” The video officially premiered May 11. 

“That is our very first video remake of 2019,” said Fry, of Mt. Juliet. “It’s my favorite song to sing during the Halloween season. I am a huge ‘Hocus Pocus’ fan. You can ask anyone that knows me, every fall I must binge-watch this movie from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31. I am also a huge Kenny Ortega fan, hence the reason why we are doing a song from ‘High School Musical 2’ this summer. He was the director of both those movies, and he inspires my creativity for all of these videos.

In the most recent video, he had 19 actors known as “triple threats,” which means they excel at acting, dance and singing. They sent what Fry calls, “incredible resumes full of many performances and talents.”

Actress Hillary Mead stars in Bette Midler’s role of Winifred Sanderson. Actress Paige Songer plays Mary Sanderson, originally played by Kathy Najimy. Actress Michaela Lee plays Sarah Sanderson, who was originally portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker. 

Fry said he starts each video “by creating my own casting call listing characters I potentially need for the video. I then share the casting call in many theatre and film Facebook groups. Quite a few people submit for their desired roles.”

He said the plot is “the three Sanderson sisters crash the town Halloween party while chasing after Max and Dani Dennison for Winifred’s spell book. Max jumps up on the stage and takes the mic from the skeleton singers and tells the party guests the sisters are back from the dead. Everyone believes he is just telling a joke, and the sisters proceed to take over the stage and sing “I Put a Spell on You.”

Fry said it “took us about three-and-a-half hours to film the video. I had an incredible team of hard workers along my side. To list a few people, Tiffany Fry was an assistant director alongside Paige Songer. Chris Hensley, from Cross Point Church in Mt. Juliet, willingly designed our lights and let us borrow the stage and sound equipment at the church. You can find the full crew list in the description and toward end of the video.

“It took me about two and a half months to completely edit this video. It’s a super long process. I’m not going to lie, but I probably changed the entire video up three or four times before I had the final product.”

“Thriller,” from Oct. 31, currently has close to 1,500 views on YouTube.

“Right now, we have around 250 views [for ‘I Put a Spell on You.’ Our goal for this one is 3,000 views. I’m crossing my fingers that we eventually double the views ‘Thriller’ has.” 

Fry said his company, Fry Productions, is a small production company, which I own, here in [Mt. Juliet]. It was created mainly for the fun and experience all while create remake videos from some of my favorite movies and songs.”

Fry, who is still in high schools, said, “I plan on going to college to major in film production as a director or editor. On the other hand, I still really love musical theatre. My backup plan is to go to college to be a theatre director-teacher in a school program, if I don’t succeed in the film industry.”

Fry started his film career by helping his older brother, Matt, film videos for his YouTube channel a few years ago.

“I also got more experience while filming and editing promotional videos for the theatre community,” he said.

In addition to going to school and his production company, Fry Productions will hold a karaoke night at the Roast at 216 S. Maple St. in Lebanon.

“Our first karaoke was also on May 11, 2019,” he said. “I decided to host a karaoke night to raise money for our next few videos and show off the amazing talent I’ve cast into my productions so far. 

He said he is planning even more videos.

“My plan for the next big video is ‘All For One’ from ‘High School Musical 2.’ We are also casting another smaller video at this time, ‘I Can’t Stop Singing’ from ‘Teen Beach Movie.’ We will be finishing out the year in October with a very exciting Halloween video. Knowing that we already released “Hocus Pocus,” it gives us the opportunity to release a new video coming out on Oct. 31.”

To view the video, visit

Tennessee state parks to hold National Trails Day hikes

NASHVILLE – Tennessee state parks will celebrate National Trails Day on June 1 with free guided hikes at all 56 state parks.

At Cedars of Lebanon State Park, a National Trails Day hike will take place June 1 from 2:30-4 p.m. at the newly acquired Sadie Ford Heritage Farm to seek what the new property has to offer. The hike will be open to all ages, but it is not an ADA accessible trail or good for strollers. No dogs will be allowed on the hike. Parking is limited, and participants are asked to carpool as much as possible. Participants will meet at the Sadie Ford Heritage Farm and Art Center. Cedars of Lebanon State Park is at 328 Cedar Forest Road in Lebanon. For more information, call 615-443-2769 or email park ranger Shauna Bridgers at [email protected]

Cedars of Lebanon will also feature a beautification event June 1 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Nature Center. Participants are asked to wear appropriate clothing and footwear and bring water. Tennessee Promise hours will be honored for students. For more information, call 615-443-2769 or email park ranger Bill Loewer at [email protected]

A cleanup hike will be June 1 from 8-11 a.m. at Long Hunter State Park. Participants will meet in the Volunteer Trail parking lot at 1600 Bakers Grove Road in Hermitage. The group will hike about two miles on the Volunteer Trail to clean up trash along the trail that has floated in from Percy Priest Lake. Trash bags, litter-getters and gloves will be provided. It’s possible hikers will be off trail among the grass and trees, so they should dress appropriately. Participants should also bring water, snacks, bug spray and sunscreen. Sign up at For more information, call 615-885-2422 or email park ranger Jeffrey Sweeney at [email protected]

This will be the third of the state parks’ signature hikes this year, following First Day Hikes in January and Spring Hikes in March. Thus far, 4,787 park visitors have participated in the hikes.

“This is an opportunity for people to feel connected to nature and to learn about a Tennessee state park at the same time with the guidance of a park ranger,” said Anne Marshall, acting deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. “Whether you’re interested in a park’s history, seeing incredible views or taking a challenging trek, our parks give everyone that feeling that you can’t get anywhere else.”

The American Hiking Society designates the first Saturday in June as National Trails Day as a day of public events aimed at advocacy and trail service. Last year, 108,947 people participated in 1,203 events across 50 states.

Tennessee state parks will offer a variety of ranger-led hikes, night hikes, history hikes, nature hikes or trail cleanup hikes. With more than 1,000 miles of trails, ranging from easy paved trails to rugged backcountry trails to scenic waterways, the state parks have something for everyone. 

For more information about the hikes, visit

Mt. Juliet Christian wins Spotlight awards

NASHVILLE – Out of 28 participating high schools and more than 1,200 drama students, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s performance of “Guys and Dolls” took home the top honor of outstanding musical last Saturday at the 2019 Spotlight Awards at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Mike Fernandez, dean of Lipscomb University’s George Shinn College of Entertainment and the Arts, created the Nashville High School Musical Theatre Awards, or Spotlight Awards to recognize excellence in local high school theatre. Presented in partnership with Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the program evaluated musical productions from 28 Tennessee high schools.

With American Idol alum Piper Jones as host in TPAC’s Jackson Hall, the Tony Awards-style ceremony May 11 recognized individual and ensemble talent in 27 categories after students participated in all-day workshops on the Lipscomb campus.

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy also won Spotlight Awards for outstanding choreography and outstanding costume design.

“We are absolutely honored and grateful to have received the Spotlight Award for outstanding musical out of all the amazing high school theater talent in Tennessee,” said Kimberly Overstreet, theatre and choral director at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy. “Participation in the Spotlight Awards has provided my students with many invaluable and wonderful experiences, and to be recognized for all their hard work in ‘Guys and Dolls’ was the highlight of their year.”

Seniors Markie Scott and Kenslea Rose were recognized as part of the 2019 all-star crew, and seniors Mason Tabor and Abigail Wilson were recognized as part of the 2019 all-star cast.

“As a teacher and theater director, I am constantly looking for new ways to challenge my students so they can grow and enhance their skills,” Overstreet said. “This production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ has done just that by challenging this incredible group of students to perform at a higher level than thought possible either onstage or behind the scenes. I am blessed with an amazing cast and crew and am incredibly proud of their dedication to the theater program. It is a pleasure to work with them every day.”

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy’s production of “Guys and Dolls” was nominated in the top five for seven school awards in the categories of outstanding choreography, outstanding ensemble, outstanding costume design, outstanding hair and makeup, outstanding design concept, outstanding technical elements and outstanding musical.

Mt. Juliet Christian theatre students were also nominated for four individual awards, including senior Abe Gibson for outstanding male soloist; senior Mason Tabor for outstanding comedic actor and outstanding lead actor; and senior Abigail Wilson for outstanding lead actress.

Lipscomb University’s George Shinn College of Entertainment and the Arts is the fastest-growing college in the university, with a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The mission of the college is to be a Christ-centered, innovative, entrepreneurial arts community committed to rigorous artistic training, creative collaboration and professional growth that seeks to train the next generation of believer artists who seek to uplift, challenge and entertain. For more information, visit

Wilson Central choir closes out year at Carnegie Hall

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

The Wilson Central High School choir held its spring choral concert at the end of April, which marked the final school performance for 10 seniors.

Senior Christina Bailey, who was recognized as most dedicated, shared tears and hugs with her classmates after the performance. Bailey said her four-year commitment to the choir paid off in friendships and priceless memories to carry with her as she prepares for college.

“From day one, Mrs. Morin has been like a mom to me, somebody that I can always talk to, and the choir itself has always been a big dysfunctional family in a way,” Bailey said. “Without them, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to stand here tonight and feel as proud as I do.”

Wilson Central’s director of choral activities Lynn Morin said the group of choral students was especially important to her as they became more like family than simply students.

“Every year we finish our year in a traditional way. We sing traditional songs, and every time it just kind of signifies the end of four years for our kids but the other kids also connect with it because of the beauty of the text, the beauty of the music, and they’re very comfortable with it because they sing it every year,” Morin said. “This year’s senior class, as I said, was extremely special to me. I came into this job and didn’t know a soul moving to this area and these kids were literally my family from day one. They accepted me from day one, and they have stuck with me, and they just have my heart.”

While the school performance marked the end of the year for some, 18 students left on an airplane for a historic performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City, where they performed with Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was a focus of the chamber choir who has worked for months to prepare and perfect its performance and raise funds to travel for the April 28 performance.

Morin said it was possible because of the support for the arts throughout the community, Wilson County Schools and especially from the community and administration at Wilson Central.

“There are a lot of people here in Wilson County who love the arts, and it’s evident at all of our concerts, and I can just say thank you to those who do support the arts,” Morin said. “Sometimes these kids feel like they’re in the background, but on a night like tonight, they weren’t. They were in the spotlight.”

The Carnegie Hall performance is still almost unbelievable to some of the returning students who are more than aware of the unique opportunity in which they took part.

The buildup to the trip was described as nerve wracking and exciting by some of the students, but the tension soon melted away, said senior Audrey Darnell.

“As soon as he [Eric Whitacre] walked into the room, and we started, there was just this calm over everybody and we focused. As soon as we started to sing it was this unified, pure sound and all my worries were just out the door,” Darnell said. “Really he didn’t dwell on technical things because we had such a long amount of time to learn these pieces and kind of dig into them, and he really just being so knowledgeable about that stuff and expecting us to kind of rise to the occasion, he really just talked about the feeling of the music and the emotion that we wanted to convey and the picture in our minds, and that just delivers the song to another level,” Darnell said.

“For instance,” Junior Aelmira Esmaeilpour said, “one of the pieces is called, ‘I Carry Your Heart,’ and at first when we would sing it, no one was really as into it as much as he was hoping, so he just kind of started explaining things and saying how love should feel and just explaining what love is. That just hit a lot of people really deep and everyone got emotional, I cried when we re-sang it, and you could just tell that he could tell what a big difference it made from the beginning to after he explained everything. I think everyone realized that these songs aren’t just written to be sung, they’re written because they mean something.”

That professionalism and passion is something that stuck out to each performer and inspired some to consider involving music performance even deeper into their lives and plans post-graduation.

“It’s really cool to see someone who wrote the music conduct it, because I would watch him while he was conducting and at the end he would close his eyes, and it was almost like he was visualizing what he was saying with his writing. It’s all directly from him, you’re not getting it second hand or from a director who thinks they know what the composer wanted, you’re getting it from the composer who knows what he wants. It’s like his child almost,” sophomore Avery McClure said. “After this trip and seeing how Eric Whitacer was with his music, how it was like his child and seeing how excited he got when he heard what he wanted to hear, I’m considering going into composing or just joining a professional choir and totally threw my other plans out the window.”

In addition to their Carnegie Hall performance, the students visited many New York City landmarks like Central Park. When asked what the best thing besides the performance was, they all replied, “food,” in unison, Ellen’s Stardust Diner to be specific.

While the performance highlighted their hard work and talents, the students made sure to point out the leadership and support from Morin, someone who they all speak of as if she’s family, someone who’s helped them all become more connected.

“I think it just really highlights the caliber and the experience and the talent and the connections of our director. She’s the one who got us into this, she’s the one who lead us into this event and prepared us and I think that she’s just really helpful and amazing,” Darnell said. “She believed in us,” Esmaeilpour said. “She knew we would do it and she was right. This is why we love her.”

“She didn’t give up on us at all,” said junior Samantha Mored.

For Morin, this trip was an affirmation that she and her students had worked their hardest, never taking the opportunity to perform, whether it be in the walls of Wilson Central or Carnegie Hall for granted.

“Just as I had hoped, the first experience, the first rehearsal, the first time that they all sang together under Eric’s direction, it was just magical,” Morin said. “I knew from that point that everything was going to be fine, and I was specifically proud of their preparation. I worked them very hard, and the expectations were very high, and they completely rose to them. In rehearsal, they reaped the benefits of that. I know they realized that. They never reached for their binders of music not once, and that’s pretty cool. There were kids reaching for their binders from other schools, but my kids were just like, bring it. So I was very proud of them in that regard. I had some beautiful seats in Carnegie Hall right on the first tier, front box seats, and I got to see them come out, and it just made my heart swell that they had this experience, one that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. It may very well be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of them.”

Community Calendar and The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Community Calendar may be submitted via email at [email protected], in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of nonprofit events, community club and government meetings. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

May 15

Wilson County Hiring Event

9 a.m.

A Wilson County hiring event will be Wednesday, May 15 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Wilson County Civic League at 321 E. Market St. in Lebanon. Employers will include FedEx, American Wonder Porcelain, 202 Census Bureau, Walmart in Mt. Juliet, Leviton, Nissan, Demos’ Restaurant, LSI Landscape Services, O’Reilly Distribution Center, Bojangles, National Guard, Geodis, Ceva Logistics, Abacus Staffing, Crown Services, Under Armour and Cameron Search and Staffing. For more information, contact Sarah Buckles at [email protected] or 615-494-4278.

Mt. Juliet Chamber Connect Luncheon

11:15 a.m.

The Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce’s chamber connect luncheon will be Wednesday, May 15 from 11:15 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at Rutland Place. The guest speaker will be Pastor Jacob Armstrong with Providence Church. Save a seat at

Lebanon Senior Citizens Center Health Fair

12:30 p.m.

The Lebanon Senior Citizens Center will hold a health fair Wednesday, May 15 from 12:30-2 p.m. at the center. More than 30 vendors will be featured.

May 16

Kindergarten Night at W.A. Wright Elementary School

4 p.m.

Kindergarten Night will be Thursday, May 16 from 4-6:30 p.m. at W.A. Wright Elementary School. The event will provide an opportunity for parents and students to meet some of the teachers and staff and learn more about what to expect for the upcoming school year.

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015 meeting

6 p.m.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5015 in Lebanon will meet Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. and the third Thursday of each month in the Veterans Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center. Any veteran who has been awarded a campaign medal or combat medal for any hostility is eligible for membership, verified by the veterans’ DD 214 Form. Presently, Post 5015 is having success in rebuilding its post and becoming active in district and local events. It is not a Lebanon post, but a countywide post. To learn more, contact Post Commander John Marshall at [email protected]; Senior Vice Commander Ken Kackley at [email protected] or Junior Vice Commander Harold W. Weist at [email protected]

Fiddlers Grove Model Train Club

7 p.m.

The Fiddlers Grove Model Train Club will meet Thursday, May 16 and each third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Fiddlers Grove Train Museum at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon. This is an all-scale model railroad club. During the meeting, everyone will share their knowledge and introduce the hobby to folks new to the interest. The Train Museum has an extensive O-gauge layout and a small HO-scale layout with plans to expand the HO track. The club is open to anyone interested in model train railroads. For more information, contact Ron Selliers at [email protected]

Celebrate Recovery

7 p.m.

Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step recovery support group for overcoming hurts, hang-ups and habits, meets each Thursday from 7-9:30 p.m. at Fairview Church at 1660 Leeville Pike in Lebanon. For more information, call ministry leader Tony Jones at 615-972-6151.

May 17

Tennessee State University National Alumni Association Mid-South Regional Conference

8 a.m.

The Tennessee State University National Alumni Association Mid-South Regional Conference will be Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at Pickett-Rucker United Methodist Church at 633 Glover St. in Lebanon and at the Wilson County Schools central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon. For more information, call Virgleen Seay at 615-598-6937.

May 18

Think Green, Think Clean Challenge

8 a.m.

The 11th-annual Think Green, Think Clean Youth Litter Challenge will be Saturday, May 18 with teams to clean up at their schools at 8 a.m., and a celebration from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. The celebration will feature door prizes, games, food and the presentation of prize money to winning schools.

Ali’s Rae of Hope 5K Walk and Run

8 a.m.

Ali’s Rae of Hope 5K Walk and Run will be Saturday, May 18 at 8 a.m. at the Mill at 300 N. Maple St. in Lebanon. Check-in starts are 7 a.m. Early registration is $25 before May 11, and late registration will be $35. Participants are encouraged to dress as their favorite fairytale character. To register, visit To learn more about the mission, visit or or call 615-881-2509.

Antique Tractor, Antique Truck and Gas Engine Show

8 a.m.

Wilson County Antique Power Association will hold its 28th-annual Antique Tractor, Antique Truck and Gas Engine Show on Saturday, May 18 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center at 945 E. Baddour Pkwy. in Lebanon. Gates will open at 8 a.m. Admission is free; however, a donation will be accepted. There will be no fee charged for exhibitors. For more information, call 615-444-6944 or 615-449-5002.

Special Needs Vacation Bible School

9 a.m.

Yee Haw, a special needs vacation Bible school, will be Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. until noon at the Journey Church at 212A Leeville Pike in Lebanon for 3 year olds through fifth graders. Registration and more information is available at the Journey Church’s children’s ministry Facebook page under announcements. The registration deadline is May 17. Email [email protected] for more information. 

Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church Barbecue Fundraiser

9 a.m.

Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church will hold its annual barbecue fundraiser Saturday, May 18 from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the church at 522 Castle Heights Ave. at the corner of Leeville Pike in Lebanon. Whole smoked butts will be $40, and pulled pork will be $8 per pound. To place pre-orders, call 615-444-7453, and leave a message if no one answers.

Dream Riders Benefit Motorcycle Ride

9:45 a.m.

The third-annual Dream Riders Benefit Motorcycle Ride will be Saturday, May 18 at 9:45 a.m. at Blue Moon Barbecue at 711 Park Ave. in Lebanon. The police-escorted 30-mile ride will be $20 per driver and $5 per rider, and all proceeds will benefit Empower Me. Live music will be featured when riders return. Online registration is available at, or for more information or to register, contact Beth Goolesby at 615-202-5388 or [email protected]

Free Groceries Giveaway

3 p.m.

A free groceries giveaway will be Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Life Church at 3688 State Route 109, across the street from Dollar General, in Lebanon. It will be open to everyone, and the groceries will be given away as long as they last. Visit for more information.

Good Wheel Cruisers Saturday Night Cruise-In

4:30 p.m.

The Good Wheel Cruisers will hold its Saturday night cruise-in Saturday, May 18 from 4:30-9:30 p.m. and each Saturday evening through Oct. 20 at the Lebanon Outlet Mall in the marketplace area at 1 Outlet Village Drive in Lebanon. A 50-50 raffle will be featured. For more information, visit

Daddy-Daughter Princess Ball

5:30 p.m.

The Daddy-Daughter Princess Ball, sponsored by Chick-fil-A in Lebanon, will be Saturday, May 18 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the Mill in Lebanon.

Centerstage Theatre Co. presents “Our Town”

7:30 p.m.

Centerstage Theatre Co. will present “Our Town,” on Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 19 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Winfree Bryant Middle School in the auditorium. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $13 for students and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at Iddy and Oscar’s on the Lebanon Square, at or at the door.

May 19

The Fessenden House Raise the Roof

2 p.m.

One of Lebanon’s smallest museums, the Fessenden House, which dates to 1852, needs a new roof. The History Associates of Wilson County and the Margaret Gaston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will hold an open house May 19 from 2-5 p.m. and ask for $20 donations per person to raise a roof for the structure at 236 W. Main St. between Cox’s Gifts and Sun Trust Bank. The $20 admission fee is tax deductible and will include a one-year membership to Friends of the Fessenden House. Children 12 and younger will be admitted for free. Refreshments will be provided. Checks should be made History Associates of Wilson County. For more information, call Judy Sullivan at 615-484-0770.

The People’s Agenda

POLICY: Items for the Government Calendar may be submitted via email at [email protected], in person at The Democrat’s office at 402 N. Cumberland St., by mail at The Lebanon Democrat, 402 N. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087 or via fax at 615-444-0899. Items must be received by 4 p.m. for the next day’s edition. The calendar is a free listing of government meetings and government-related events. The Democrat reserves the right to reject or edit material. Notices run on an as space is available basis and cannot be taken over the phone. Include a name and phone number in case of questions.

May 16

Wilson County Ag Management Committee meeting

5 p.m.

The Wilson County Ag Management Committee will meet Thursday, May 16 at 5 p.m. in the Gentry Building at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center in Lebanon.

Wilson County Health and Welfare Committee meeting

6 p.m.

The Wilson County Health and Welfare Committee will meet Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

May 20

Wilson County Commission meeting

7 p.m.

The Wilson County Commission will meet Monday, May 20 at 7 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

May 21

Wilson County Development and Tourism Committee meeting

5:30 p.m.

The Wilson County Development and Tourism Committee will meet Tuesday, May 21 at 5:30 p.m. in commission chambers at the Wilson County Courthouse.

May 30

Wilson County Board of Education work session

5 p.m.

The Wilson County Board of Education will meet in a work session Thursday, May 30 at 5 p.m. at the Wilson County Schools central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon.

June 3

Wilson County Board of Education meeting

6 p.m.

The Wilson County Board of Education will meet Monday, June 3 at 6 p.m. at the Wilson County Schools central office at 415 Harding Drive in Lebanon.

– Staff Reports

Encore Theatre to present ‘Crossing Delancey’

Encore Theatre Co. announced its upcoming production of “Crossing Delancey” by Susan Sandler.

The romantic comedy, directed by Sara Dhom, will open May 3 and run weekends through May 12. Friday and Saturday shows will start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees will start at 2:30 p.m. The house will open 30 minutes before show time.

In “Crossing Delancey,” Isabel is a modern young woman who lives alone and works in a bookshop. When she isn’t pining after a handsome author, she is visiting her grandmother, “Bubbie,” in Manhattan’s lower east side. This irascible granny and her friend, the matchmaker, have found a “catch” for Isabel, whose initial reluctance gives way to a blossoming romance when she finally meets Sam, the pickle vendor, as the end of the play offers a new beginning.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for seniors 60 and older. For tickets, visit To reserve seats and pay at the door, call 615-598-8950. Encore Theatre Co. is at 6978 Lebanon Road, just east of State Route 109, in Mt. Juliet.

The play is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Encore Theatre Co. is a nonprofit community theater that serves Wilson County and surrounding areas since 2006.

Music and Memories celebrates seniors

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

Music and Memories at Tucker’s Gap Event Center brought music and fun for Wilson County’s seniors last Tuesday and more significantly raised $18,500 for the Senior Citizen’s Awareness Network.

SCAN, a volunteer-staffed nonprofit organization, assists Wilson County’s senior citizens with visits, heaters, air conditioners, walkers and emergency alert buttons.

Leadership Wilson, a nonprofit community leadership organization that provides a comprehensive leadership training opportunity through experiential learning, daylong seminars, group discussions, field trips and retreats with community and business leaders, organized Tuesday’s event.

Organizer Scott McRae said the event attracted nearly 200 community members and exceeded expectations, but it was the stories of seniors who connected with their community that stuck out to McRae as the most important accomplishment.

“It started with a small seed and it grew,” McRae said. “The initial concept was to provide an event for the seniors in our area and let them have some fun to enjoy.

“Our goal was to raise a little bit of money, and it just kept growing and growing with these wonderful surprises, and we’ve raised over $18,000.

“My relationship with SCAN started probably eight, nine years ago when my son was in scouts. We went out and collected a truckload of food and took it to their food pantries. So I’ve known SCAN for many years, and it’s come full circle to be able to give back to them as our team with this wonderful event and to not only raise awareness, but also to put a little joy into our community.”

Peggie Culpepper, 83, said she fell in love with the SCAN volunteers who take their time to form relationships with her and even built her a wheelchair ramp at her Mt. Juliet home. She said the music and atmosphere of the event really illustrated the kindness of SCAN and the community as a whole she watched grow from a little country town to the current busy city.

“I think it’s the most wonderful thing they could do for the elderly people,” Culpepper said. “SCAN has done so much for me. They built my [wheelchair] ramp for me years ago, and I think they’re wonderful people. They do so much for everybody. They’re so loving, and they just make you feel good.”

SCAN volunteer Jacque Dillard has worked with the organization for three years and said it’s the ability to give back that makes the work worth it.

“I enjoy meeting with the people, and it makes me realize how fortunate I am, how blessed I am, and they’re always so glad to see us. It’s just so good to be able to give back to people,” Dillard said.

Andy May and his Band of Friends provided the music, and WANT radio personality M.J. Lucas served as emcee.

Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon provided health screenings, and the event featured an appearance by Tom the mini horse.

Sponsors included Leadership Wilson, Music and Memories Team, Jim and Sharon Putejovsky, Tucker’s Gap Event Center, Andy May and His Band of Friends, M.J. Lucas, Hawk Specialty Services, David Hale, UPS Store Mt. Juliet, Gary Whitaker, Dorie Mitchell, Bonnie Ryan with Zaxby’s, CedarStone Bank, Chad and Betty Williams with Smile Gallery, Christopher and Emily Gann, Kevin and Tina Winfree, The Leadership Wilson Softball Tournament Team, Lanee Young, Silver Springs Baptist Church, Lynn Odum, the Jewelers of Lebanon, WANT FM, U.S. Community Credit Union, Beckwith Missionary Baptist Church, Sammy B’s, the city of Lebanon, Mayor Bernie Ash, John and Kathleen Reaney, The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet, Robinson Properties, Karen Moore, Dave and Martha VanHoven, Sen. Mark Pody, Lisia Tucker, Aqua Bella Day Spa, T.A. Bryan, Hickory Hill Farm, Tennova Healthcare-Lebanon, Demos’ Restaurant, 615 Powerhouse Cleaning, Farm Bureau Insurance, Jeff and Deniece Stonebraker, Cheryl and Jenell Herbert, West Wilson Exchange Club, Cracker Barrel and Judy Cox and Medana Hemontolor with Exit Rocky Top Realty.

‘A Grand Celebration’ planned for the fair

The Wilson County Fair Board selected “A Grand Celebration” as the theme for the 2019 Wilson County Fair, which will open Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. and continue through Aug. 24.

“Our theme focuses on the many milestone celebrations happening in our Wilson County community in 2019,” said Wilson County Fair Board president Randall Clemons.

Clemons said some of the milestones include Wilson County Promotions celebrating 40 years of producing the Wilson County Fair, the city of Lebanon celebrating 200 years and Wilson County celebrating 220 years. Several other businesses such as Cracker Barrel, Demos’, Wilson County Farmers’ Co-op and The Lebanon Democrat, to name a few, each celebrate significant milestones in 2019.

Each day of the fair will be a different celebration to create an overall grand celebration during the nine-day fair.

Agricultural fairs are a tradition in Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture was formed in 1854 to promote agriculture through fairs and expositions and continues to support fairs held across the state. Nearly 3 million people visit Tennessee agricultural fairs each year.

As the largest county fair in Tennessee, the Wilson County Fair maintains a focus on fun, entertainment and agriculture experiences for all fairgoers. Clemons said the agriculture commodity focus for 2019 will be the “Year of Wool.” 

“Our fair’s roots and existence remain as an agriculture fair,” Clemons said. “Agriculture feeds us, clothes us and shelters us, and we use a different commodity each year to educate, as well as bring attention to, the importance of agriculture in all of our lives.”

There will be more than 150 events planned during the nine-day fair, and volunteers are making plans to tie the theme in to the many exhibits and competitions during the fair.   

The 2019 Wilson County Fair will again be presented by Middle Tennessee Ford Dealers. The cover of the 2019 Wilson County Fair premium catalog, which will be distributed in mid-July, encompasses both the theme and the agriculture commodity while depicting all aspects of fair events and activities.

Clemons said fair organizers plan for this year to be a great fair. There are lots of plans made to make coming to the fair “a great place for family fun and entertainment.”

“We want ewe at the 2019 Wilson County Fair, along with your family and friends,” Clemons said. “We’re working hard to make this year’s fair the best one ever.”

For more information about the fair, visit

Ninth-annual Honor Band shows off skills

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

The Wilson County Band Director’s Association presented the ninth-annual Wilson County Honor Band concert April 4 at Lebanon High School.

Middle and high school students from across the county came together to perform with guest conductors Atticus Hensley and Stephen Rhodes.

Hensley is the band director for both East Middle School and West Middle School in Tullahoma, while Rhodes recently retired from Lipscomb University, where he served as professor of music and director of instrumental studies for 40 years.

Each honor band featured more than 100 student musicians in music programs at Carroll-Oakland School, Lebanon High School, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy, Mt. Juliet High School, Mt. Juliet Middle School, Southside School, Walter J. Baird Middle School, Watertown High School, Watertown Middle School, West Wilson Middle School, Wilson Central High School and Winfree Bryant Middle School.

Lebanon High School band director Ben Channell said the Honor Band is a great opportunity for student musicians to get a different perspective and philosophy to perform with each guest conductor.

“They only met for the first time as a group this morning at 8:30 a.m., so this is cool,” Channell said. “For the high school students, especially, it’s really cool for them to get that direction from a college guy [Rhodes.] It’s completely different from us high school people, so it’s just that different perspective, and obviously there’s high-quality teaching that’s going on in both groups.”

The performance was originally scheduled for February but was rescheduled after historic rainfall and flooding struck the county.

Friendship drama students to present ‘Oklahoma!’

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Friendship Christian School thespians will present the classic musical, “Oklahoma!,” on April 25-27 at the school.

They will present the “Getting to Know You” version of the musical.

This is the 75th anniversary of the fan-favorite show’s appearance on Broadway, and Friendship director Key McKinney said she is excited to direct the show again.

“’Oklahoma!’ is one of my all-time favorites,” McKinney said. “’Oklahoma!’ has a near-and-dear place in my heart. This is my fifth time involved in ‘Oklahoma!.’ In high school, I was a dancer. Then, when I was a young mother, I played Ado Annie. Later, I got the opportunity to be Laurey, and this is my second time directing the show.”

The show, written by Broadway legends Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is based on Lynn Riggs’ 1931 play, “Green Grow the Lilacs.”

The musical is about the lives of people who lived in the Oklahoma! Territory in 1903. As the characters interact with one another, well-known songs are sung.

Among them are “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin,’” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love” and “Oklahoma!.”

McKinney said the theme and meaning behind the show is important.

“You’ve got to be hardy,” she said. “You’ve got to be, to get by in this world. I think that is so important for us.”

McKinney said she cannot wait for the audience to experience the show.

“I’m excited for people to come and see what these young people have done and are continuing to do here at Friendship Christian School,” she said.  “We would love for you to come and see ‘Oklahoma!.’”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and students. They can be purchased at the door at 6 p.m. on show nights. The doors to the theatre will open at 6 p.m., and the show will start at 7 p.m. There will not be a matinee.

Friendship Christian School is at 5400 Coles Ferry Pike in Lebanon. For more information about the show, follow Friendship on Twitter at @FCSCommanders or visit the school’s Facebook page.

Mt. Juliet Christian drama to present ‘Guys and Dolls’

The drama department students and faculty at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy will present the spring musical production of “Guys and Dolls” on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the school.

Mt. Juliet Christian drama teacher Kim Overstreet will direct a cast and crew of 26 high school students that is a musical theater favorite for an audience of all ages.

Set in New York City during the 1950s, “Guys and Dolls” will feature hilarious dialogue, romance, a glorious Frank Loesser musical score and choreography that is dynamic and story driven. The primary theme that runs through the show is the differences between guys and dolls, what they want and their hopes and dreams, as well as their differing views of each other. The guys believe dolls are out to trap them and make them settle down, while the dolls despair the men they love will never change and finally give them the security and love they crave. The theme provides both humor in the relationship between Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide played by sophomore Christian Link and senior Abigail Wilson, respectively, and tension in the relationship between Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown played by senior Abe Gibson and junior Anna Wise, respectively, which is ultimately resolved at the end of the show.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and will be available at the door. Doors will open Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The performances will in the gymnasium at Mt. Juliet Christian Academy at 735 N. Mt. Juliet Road.

Encore Theatre to present ‘Bedtime Stories’

The Encore Theatre Co. production of “Bedtime Stories (As Told by Our Dad)(Who Messed Them Up)” by Ed Monk will take the stage this weekend.

Directed by Erica Jo Lloyd, the show will open Friday and runs weekends through April 14. Friday and Saturday shows will start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees will start at 2:30 p.m. Doors will open 30 minutes before show time.

It’s dad’s turn to tell his three rambunctious children their bedtime stories, but when he gets fuzzy on the details, the classics get creative. A prince with a snoring problem spices up “The Princess and The Pea,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” cries dinosaur instead, and “Rumpelstiltskin” helps turn all that pesky gold into straw. The fairy tales may be well known but not the way dad tells them.

Tickets are $16 for adults and $13 for youth and seniors. For tickets, visit To reserve seats and pay at the door, call 615-598-8950.

Encore Theatre Co. is at 6978 Lebanon Road, just west of State Rout 109, in Mt. Juliet. For information on auditions and upcoming productions, visit

“Bedtime Stories” is produced by a special arrangement with Playscripts Inc.

Audience of One to be spotlighted in three April shows

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Audience of One will present three different shows in April, and it all kicks off April 5 with “A Night on Broadway.”

“It’s a review of all of our past shows and a look at what’s coming up in the future,” said Audience of One director Angie Dee. “People have requested a Broadway review, and someone said, ‘Hey, why don’t we make it a dinner theatre? [Let’s] make it a giant show and just have fun for everyone.’”

Dee said she’s “had some generous people come forward and say, ‘Let us do this for you.’ We’re making it a fundraiser for Audience of One to try to recoup our new stage floor costs and things like that.”

She said musical numbers from all of Audience of One’s past shows, “are up for grabs. Anything from ‘Into the Woods,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ ‘Little Women, the Broadway musical,’ ‘She Loves Me’ and, of course, ‘West Side Story.’”

Dee said because Audience of One doesn’t do “A Night on Broadway” every year, she hopes people will come and enjoy the show.

“You can have dinner, or you can sit in the regular theatre seating,” she said.

Doors will open for “A Night on Broadway,” at 5:30 p.m. for dinner and 6:30 p.m. for people who just want to see the show. The show starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $35 for adults with dinner, $25 for children 3-11 years old and seniors with dinner and $17 for regular theater seats. Tickets may be purchased at

On April 6, the troupe will perform during “A Chocolate Affair,” the annual fundraiser for the Child Advocacy Center.

“We had the opportunity to do their fundraiser last year, and we were asked back,” Dee said. “Abused children are near and dear to my heart. It’s a subject that I definitely want to give back to. [The CAC] came to me and asked, and I gladly accepted.

“It’s just a wonderful fundraiser. They need funding. They need help. They need support from the community, and it’s a great cause. We’re happy to be there.”

Single tickets are $50 and may be purchased at

On April 7, the company will perform during a fundraiser to support the Beard family, as plan to they adopt two or three children.

“The Beard family is an incredible family,” Dee said. “This entire family has been close to Audience of One. From website development to graphic design to choreography. Tara, Richard and Hope all do shows.

“It’s kind of a family affair. They are very instrumental in my board. I love their heart. Tara’s one of my best friends in the whole world. When God led her to do this adoption, I said, ‘How can I help?’ This is how I know how to help. We’re standing behind them and helping them raise funds for this amazing adoption.”

Tickets are $35 for adults, and the show will start at 6 p.m.

“We’re super excited about getting behind all three of those events,” Dee said. “Come support Audience of One productions. We do great work, and we are excited to be at the Capitol Theatre.”

10th-annual Chocolate Affair set for April

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

The 10th-annual Chocolate Affair will take place April 6 at the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon to raise money for the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center.

Entertainment will be provided by Audience of One Productions, which will perform “One Enchanted Evening.” Two Fat Men Catering will provide the food.

Silent and live auctions will take place, along with a variety of chocolate desserts at the chocolate buffet, including a chocolate fountain. The festivities will be from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Individual tickets are $50 with tables that seat eight for $500. Tickets must be bought by March 30. Tickets may be bought at or call 615-449-7975.

Sponsors include Systems Integrations, Vance Law, Bank of Tennessee, Signature Behaviors, Vanderbilt University and Wilson Bank & Trust.

The 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center is an organization that aims to reduce the trauma of child abuse and help with the healing process. The Child Advocacy Center’s work and interviews are often used by law enforcement in criminal cases against abusers.

The Child Advocacy Center serves Wilson, Smith, Macon, Jackson and Trousdale counties. Funds raised will help the Child Advocacy Center with its expanding operations and staff.

For more information about the Child Advocacy Center, visit

Mt. Juliet native, ‘The Good Doctor’ writer visits Cumberland

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

Lloyd Gilyard Jr., a writer on ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” addressed a crowd of about 70 people Thursday evening in Cumberland University’s Heydel Fine Arts Center.

Gilyard, a 2000 Mt. Juliet High School graduate who currently lives and works in Los Angeles, spoke about his journey through the entertainment business.

“It’s always nice to help grow the next crop of writers to at least give them hope that this is something that you can actually do and is actually attainable,” Gilyard said. And it’s a lot of fun.

Gilyard said one of the lessons he’s learned in the first decade of his career is patience and work ethic are key.

“It just takes time. That was the key. When you’re young, you want everything to happen now, now, now, and then you realize that everything that you have done, and I’ve had a decent career in entertainment that’s coming up on 13 years. You realize that things take longer than you would have liked them to when you were younger, but you’ll get there as long as you keep doing it. You have to keep going after it,” Gilyard said.

Cumberland University English instructor Summer Vertrees led the discussion, which was made possible by a Bell Family Grant. Gilyard touched on the need for writers to give characters agency through the script and the need to be able to collaborate throughout the process of pre-production and production.

“Everyone has ideas that are different from yours,” Gilyard told the crowd. “And people have ways of like expounding those ideas. They see the story in a different way, but you’re all working together for a common good. And what happened in this scene is I had written it to just so you know, a normal scene, but the director caught me off guard in that moment when Bobby hears the news and he does something super subtle. It’s called a push in on the camera, and that little camera move adds so much depth to the emotion that the character within that moment. And that is something that, as a new writer, that was something that kind of blew my mind. The fact that you can have someone else there who understands your vision but will add something new to it and make it even greater.”

Gilyard worked earlier in the day with screenwriting students, something associate professor of English and creative writing Michael Rex said helped open their eyes to the realities and possibilities of a career in screenwriting.

“It was very good for them, because there are six of them, and they are all primarily fiction writers, so this was really the first time that they’ve actually had to write screenplays or stage plays. And what’s different about this aspect of creative writing versus writing poetry or fiction is exactly what he said about collaboration – you have to give it to someone else. It’s one thing to hear that from me. It’s a totally different thing to hear it from somebody who was just like them, who graduated from the same areas as they are and has gone out and is doing this for a living,” Rex said.

Wilson Central Wildcat Theatre to present ‘Mamma Mia’

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson Central High School Wildcat Theatre will present “Mamma Mia,” March 28-31 in the school auditorium.

The classic show based on hits from the 1970s supergroup Abba will feature a large cast and crew in the show.

Actors Caylin Maguire who plays Tanya; Isabelle Leonard who plays Rosie; Alanna Diserens who is Sophia’s understudy; Sarah Beth Barlow who plays Donna, Azel Eddings who plays Sky; Addison Owens who plays Bill; Tristan Lockamy who plays Harry; and Johan Smith who plays Sam recently talked about the show.

“I just love everybody in it,” said Owens. “I feel connected to the cast. This is my senior show.”

Lockamy said, “Abba is a great band and they have great music. It’s fun to sing their songs on stage with everyone else.”

Leonard said she grew up listening to Abba with her mom.

“I’ve also done musical theatre since my freshman year, so this is kind of natural,” she said.

Maguire said she heard about the band and music through the musical first.

“Then my mom said, ‘Did you know that these are all from a band?” she said. “I was raised by a drama major.”

Lockamy said he’s always been interested in “the old music like Abba and the Beatles. I like [the music in the show] a lot.”

The show takes place within a two-day period.

“Forty-eight hours, and that’s it,” said Maguire. “It’s jam-packed. You’ll smile. You’ll cry.”

Maguire continued Leonard’s thoughts.

“You’ll laugh,” she said. “You’ll dance in your seat.”

Diserens said, “It’s a such an energetic and lively show to put on with everyone, because it has this spirit of this big-story adventure, and it’s like, what’s going to happen next?”

Barlow said she believes the audience members will “be more grateful for their family. It makes them have that love for their friendships. It’s a feel-good kind of show.”

Just because the storyline takes place in Greece, Maguire said, “It’s a show that can take place anywhere.

Maguire said the stage musical is not the same as the movie.

“There are songs in there that were in the movie,” she said. “Some of the stuff is in a different order. It’s not the movie on stage. It’s still the same overall story, but it’s not identical. So, don’t come expecting Meryl Streep.”

Diserens said the stage show, “kind of allows you to see a different side of the characters. Because it’s a play, there’s more insight into the characters, rather than the whole production value. You can really look into these lives.”

Shows March 28-29 will start 7 p.m., and there will be two shows March 30 at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The matinee will be a sing-along show. The March 31 show will begin at 2:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $15, and student tickets are $10.

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy to present ‘Guys and Dolls’

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet Christian Academy theatre will present the Broadway classic musical, “Guys and Dolls,” on April 12-14 at the school at 735 N. Mt. Juliet Road in Mt. Juliet.

The Broadway musical premiered in 1950. It ran for 1,200 performances and won a Tony Award for best musical. There were numerous revivals, and the musical was made into a film in 1955. The film starred Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

Kimberly Overstreet, theatre teacher and show director, said, “I picked ‘Guys and Dolls’ because it is an American musical theater classic. It’s a theater favorite for audience members and students.”

She said the play is called the “perfect theater musical, because it works as well today with today’s audiences as it did in 1950 when it premiered on Broadway. [The audience will relate to] the basic theme and the characters. The characters are extremely relatable and it’s good, clean, classic fun.”

Her job as director is to “trust the material and present it faithfully, with the innocence, romanticism and the whole largess that transcends realism,” she said. “Audiences can expect to laugh at the hilarious dialogue, be carried away by the romance, transported by the glorious [Frank] Loesser score and excited by the choreography that is dynamic and character driven.”

There are differences between the musical and the movie, she said, especially with some of the main characters.

Abigail Wilson, who plays Miss Adelaide, said the role “is different than any other role I’ve played. She’s very wild in a sense and likes to have a good time. The characters that I usually play are more refined and laid back.”

Abe Gibson plays Sky Masterson.

“Sky Masterson is a very complex character,” he said, “in the sense that he’s trying to be manipulative and gets what he wants, but at the same time, he finds himself falling in love with Sarah Brown. He has all these complex physical and emotional strains together just eating on him throughout the show.”

He said Masterson has some “amazing solo and ensemble songs” such as “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” and “My Time of Day.”

Anna Wise plays Sister Sarah Brown and said she wanted the role because, “Sarah reminds me of myself. She’s very reserved and has something set in her mind that she doesn’t want to change. I thought it would be cool to dig in deeper to that.”

Christian Link plays Nathan Detroit.

“Nathan and I are eerily similar,” Link said. “He cares a lot for everybody around him. He’s still a little big selfish. He wants to do something that he’s passionate about, but he still loves somebody.”

“Guys and Dolls will run April 12-13 at 7 p.m. and April 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students and will be available at the door.

Mardi Gras at the Capitol tops $100K for Sherry’s Run

Staff Reports

Supporters from across Wilson County showed up in a big way Feb. 1 for Mardi Gras at the Capitol to benefit the Sherry’s Run organization.

“Thanks to so many generous people and businesses across Wilson County, Mardi Gras at the Capitol was a huge success to support the Sherry’s Run organization,” said Julie Miller-Wilson, Mardi Gras at the Capitol event chair. “There was so much community support, the venue sold out days before the event. The fourth-annual event raised a record-setting more than $100,000 to assist cancer patients in Wilson County and surrounding communities.

“From the table sponsors to individual ticket purchasers, silent and live auction donors and the winners of the auction items, so many people helped make Mardi Gras at the Capitol an amazing event. The event sponsors went above and beyond to make the evening spectacular. Bob and Pam Black allowed us the use of the beautiful Capitol Theatre. Party Providers set the tables for our fabulous meal provided by Ed Riley with Mo’Cara Southern Dining and Two Fat Men Catering. Additionally, the success of the evening was made possible with support from Cheers Wine & Liquor. Scott and Kirsten Harris provided the festive photo booth, and S.S. Graham Floral, Interiors and Events provided beautiful centerpieces. Hawk Specialty Services provided sound and arranged for the band, Four on the Floor. The generosity and support shown for Sherry’s Run commitment to assisting those in Wilson County and surrounding communities who are battling cancer was beyond extraordinary.”

Sherry’s Run, Wilson County’s largest grassroots cancer fundraising effort, is a nonprofit, Christian organization that has helped hundreds of people and their families during some of the hardest times of their lives. With community support and involvement, Sherry’s Run helps members of the community year round through support groups; assistance with utilities, housing, prescriptions, medical bills, gas and groceries; and colonoscopy assistance.

“The Sherry’s Run executive board and staff are so grateful for the support of our community and the leadership of our Mardi Gras at the Capitol chairs Glenn and Julie Miller-Wilson,” said Pat Lawson, executive director of Sherry’s Run. “Glenn and Julie worked tirelessly to make this a premier event to benefit the Sherry’s Run organization. We greatly appreciate their leadership and everyone who contributed to make Mardi Gras at the Capitol so successful.”

To learn more about the Sherry’s Run organization, call 615-925-2592. To refer someone for assistance, call 615-925-9932 or visit To make a donation to Sherry’s Run, visit or mail donations to Sherry’s Run, P.O. Box 8, Lebanon, TN 37088-0008.