• Laurel Contributor

HCP’s 25th Season

by Courtney Scarborough

In July of 1995, Sara Mayer, Carol Lucas, Jerri Talley, Jean Morris and April Hershey each gave $100 to begin a community theater group in Highlands, the Highlands Community Players was born. That first season they chose three plays – “Steel Magnolias,” “Dearly Departed,” and “A Thurber Carnival.” As a nod of appreciation to their founders, the Highlands-Cashiers Players’ 25th season will begin with “Dearly Departed,” a favorite from HCP’s very first season.

In the summer of 2008, the Highlands Community Players joined forces with theater lovers in nearby Cashiers and transitioned to the Highlands Cashiers Players. The twin communities have sustained a schedule of four productions each season, along with the popular holiday favorite of their traditional holiday reading each Christmas season. That’s resulted in over 80 full-length plays involving 25 directors, 23 holiday readings, 6 dramatized readings of full-length plays, and featuring over 250 actors, 41 of them in multiple productions.

What makes the Highlands Cashiers Players special is they are the areas only all-volunteer, not-for-profit theatre organization that always welcomes inexperienced and experienced actors all the same. They also encourage anyone who might want to help out in other areas that are just as vital, such as directors, technical staff, set designers and builders, backstage assistants, box office personnel, and hospitality providers. In addition to volunteers, the Highlands Cashiers Players continues to grow and succeed thanks to their continued support from season ticket holders, sponsors, and donors. Without those people, HCP would not exist, they truly are the heartbeat of HCP.

The 2018-2019 season saw one of HCP’s hardest losses to date, the untimely passing of current president, Adair Simon. In her memory, the entire 25th season is dedicated to Adair, with her presence still greatly felt.

“Dearly Departed” will be directed by HCP alumni and Past President Dr. Ronnie Spilton. Newcomer Mandy Houston is reprising her role as Lucille from another theater, with this being her first time on the stage with HCP. Two other new faces to HCP are Julie Benson and Lydia Hitchcock. Veteran actors Jim Gordon, David Spivey, Faye Siegel, Lauretta Payne, Ron Leslie, Lance Trudel, and Sayla Roman will be taking the stage. Vivian Kennedy is taking the stage in her first adult play with HCP, an alumna of the PAC Youth Theater.

For reservations, or to view the archives of HCP’s first 25 years, visit highlandscashiersplayers.org or call (828) 526-8084. Highlands Performing Arts Center is located at 507 Chestnut Street.

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