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Littleton church staging big weekend of entertainment

Music, theater, art all set to blossom in three-day event


In the late 1990s, active, creative members of Littleton United Methodist Church collaborated on starting up an ongoing gift to their community that has enriched cultural life for members, of course, but also for anyone interested in a few hours of free music, theater or visual art, either singly or — in the case of the weekend of April 27, 28, 29—all of the above.

Church members and some audience donations support an ongoing series of free concerts of many sorts during each year, culminating in a festival featuring artworks by members and others in the community; a play presented each day by the Encore Players and a special musical event …

This April, a locally centered feature will be a one-act play, “The Prodigal Daughter,” written and directed by Lisa A. Hendry. She has performed in previous Encore productions and has been “writing, acting, making stories come to life through essays, a blog and a few short stories …” She says former play director Annawyn Shamas “brought me into it. She has been my mentor …”

Shamas is proud that the Encore Players, founded to give experience to older actors — or wannabe actors — is backing the new work.

Hendry had read a short story, “Prodigal,” by Joy Jordan-Lake, inspired by Luke 15:11-32 (parable of the prodigal son), in which a younger daughter acts up and leaves home, leaving a mother and older sister.

In 2006, she called the playwright to see about adapting it for the stage and got permission, so a preliminary 10-minute version was included in the celebration of Lent that year. The original story ended before the older daughter had her say, which did not quite satisfy Hendry, so she added that part as she enlarged on the tale. It is a witty exploration of irritations and misunderstandings between a mother and daughter. Love and compassion breaks down walls.

Donna Smith, a Littleton native and longtime member of Encore and other theater and music groups, had played the mother in 2006 and “kept bugging me” about extending that early piece, said Hendry, the wife of former senior pastor Richard Hendry.

In addition to the production of “Prodigal Daughter,” Annawyn Shamas and her daughter, Ellen Shamas-Brandt, will read a related short play: “Tell Me Another Story, Sing Me Another Song” by Jean Lenox Toddie. Cast members include Richard Hendry as Narrator and Susan Sitter, Deirdre Martinez, Kathryn Lichlyter, Rick Barber, Gary Troutman, Carolyn Hinkley, Angela Wells and Cynthia Davis.

Lisa Hendry, who grew up in a rural town in Indiana, said she is the youngest of three sisters who “all teach and do creative things in different ways.” The oldest is a dance teacher, the middle one, “an Energizer bunny,” including the Peace Corps in her experience. “I had big shoes to fill … It was so humbling to hear actors say your words,” she recalls about rehearsals. Tears ensued … with director and actors.

Next project: Hendry needs to get her script published, so other churches can use it. She also volunteers at the Littleton Museum, as an interpreter at the 1860s cabin, has recently become a board member of the active Friends of the Littleton Library/Museum and is a substitute teacher in the Jefferson County Public Schools.


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