“At six fifteen we need to run on our feet, hurry, hurry, hurry to get the frozen salad on the tables before people arrive, so we can get the meals on the tables by six thirty,” Debbie Bennett explained to an incomplete group of servers in the basement of College Heights Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The day before, volunteers transformed the gym into a beautiful, cozy setting for the dinner theater. I looked at my sister out of the corner of my eye. She was the team leader for team #6, the team I was serving on. There were five members to each team; we served with Saran Chumley, Jake Sammons and Anthony Davis. The entertainers were asked to meet in another room at six fifteen to review the program, leaving the rest of the team to take care of the frozen salads. And the bread. Did I mention the bread went out with the salads too? Soft, warm, fresh bread…
When the artists returned and the frozen salads were on the tables, the servers waited in the room where the food would be served. The plan was simple, each table sat eight people – four servers carrying two plates would serve one full table at once and another server with cold tea and water would follow. Until then, we waited. Jake named our team “The Barracudas” – we had eight tables to serve. (There were 43 tables altogether.)
Emerging from the back room with two plates in hand, I followed our team as we weaved in between the tables in the dim lit gym. On stage, Larry Buchannan played Christmas carols on the piano as folks enjoyed their meal by candlelight and the festive Christmas lights throughout the room. Servers kept busy taking plates to the tables and clearing them off when they were empty. The singing was well under way by the time we could take a minute or two to stop and listen to the music. Yet, we most certainly enjoyed the singing as we worked. 😉
Some highlights from the evening were: Riley Clark singing Mary Did You Know? When he began that favorite Christmas song everyone working in the back flocked to the doorways to watch him sing. A crowd favorite, Riley encored the song with a fervent energy which really drove the message home. A roaring standing ovation followed. Josh Singletary was featured on Greater Vision’s “A Cradle In Bethlehem.” Debra Talley sang Grandma’s House For Christmas and the Little’s performed a few numbers. Larry came back on stage to play an arrangement of Carol Of The Bells on the piano and more artists like Declaration, Rhonda Frye and Riverside also sang.
The dinner theater was a benefit concert organized by Mary Ann Oglesby for The Veranda. This year was the 2nd Annual “An Evening To Remember” Christmas Dinner Theater, and there will be many more to come! The fundraiser benefits The Veranda, which provides quality respite care for the benefit of its clients, their family members and volunteers in a safe, supportive, loving environment. This much needed ministry is meeting the needs of the senior population and their families who are affected by the aging process.
I believe this year’s Christmas Dinner Theater was a complete success! With over forty tables, 300+ people and a wide variety of entertainers, the evening was full of excitement and wonderful, wonderful music! My favorite part was that it was strictly a Christmas concert. Everyone who graced the stage played and sang Christmas songs, and only Christmas! In Southern Gospel it’s very common to go to a concert this time of year and hear Gospel music with a few Christmas carols here and there. But this dinner theater was a Christmas program! The ambiance in the room created a perfect atmosphere as we busied ourselves weaving in between the tables as we served listening to a wonderful variety of Christmas music!
Afterwards, everyone enjoyed walking through the open house at The Veranda. Folks mingled with one another as they viewed the warm and inviting spaces that will be enjoyed by all who participate in this very needed ministry. Read more about The Veranda on their website @ www.theverandachbc.com. Be sure to visit their Facebook page to keep up with all their activities and don’t forget to “like” them while you’re there!