Left to right: Randy Noojin, Kyle Brett Mason, Beverly Todd, Autumn Shearin

I Discovered Love (3:48) performed by Julia Slappey [Lovett]

7 men, 5 women, ensemble

Chuck Montgomery with Dona Wheeler                      as Betsy Bennett

Photos from the 2016 Atlanta (Hapeville) production directed by Brenda Porter and starring Michael Mario Good

A One-Act Musical for the Young-in-Heart


     After Walker’s death, Florenz Ziegfeld starred Williams in his famous Ziegfeld Follies from 1910 - 1919, and Williams was the first black performer to have this distinction. Though largely forgotten today, Bert Williams was the first major black recording star, recording exclusively for Columbia Records from 1906 till his untimely death in 1922. 

And Two Musicals for Children . . .

Pam Smith as Jade Bennett

In This Place (1:55) performed by Peter Tamm and Ensemble

A One-Act Musical for Children

9 children, age 9-11; 5 adults: 1 female and 4 males 

       A gentle, musical spoof of the Old South, with Jones's wittiest score, the play is set in Charleston, SC just prior to the Civil War.                          

     Beautiful Amanda Louise de Beaupré (Mandy Lou), after a year away at a finishing school in Savannah, returns to Charleston to make her debut at the elegant Cotillion Ball, only to find her father has been falsely arrested and that there are attempts by overseer Rufus Tattnall to steal their stately mansion. 

     Mandy Lou's problems are further complicated by the arrival of an unknown baby and the plotting by the glamorous Jade Bennett to steal away Mandy Lou's new love, Jordan Kingsley. 

     Comic situations abound, particularly as three delectable characters, Mammy, Sassy, and Lump, become involved. A delicious romp!  

(Left: Linda Edwards as Mandy Lou)

      Stephen Foster comes back, crossing space and time, to debunk the myths and misinformation that have been written about him for more than 100 years. This one-person play is set in the rented studio where Foster used to go in his lifetime to be quiet and to write and compose.  His story is fraught with the pitfalls of all creative artists who must deal with the real world while longing to march to their own inner voices without restraints.  Foster accompanies himself on guitar (or perhaps piano) singing a number of the songs which have guaranteed his fame even to this day, including "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," "My Old Kentucky Home," "Old Black Joe," and "Beautiful Dreamer."  

Above: Chuck Montgomery as Hampton Fairchild

      Further, he was the first black actor to star in films, his most notable being A Natural Born Gambler (1916.) The play, which includes Williams’ signature song, "Nobody" (along with others he made famous–and also including several of his comedy routines), chronicles his struggles in an era where black performers were largely invisible in mainstream theatre. The musical drama premiered at Mars Hill University in North Carolina and starred Kristofer Geddie as Williams.

     After many rounds in the contest, Paul and a girl named Katharine Devereaux are the only two contestants left standing.  Katharine just happens to 

Three Full-length, One-Person Plays 

(All With Music)

6 men, 5 women, chorus - unit set

Musical selections from The Clown by C. Robert Jones:

Please note: The volume on these tracks is very low and will need to be adjusted for optimal playback.

Jenny Lind Sings Tonight!

The Black and White Ball from Rivals

     The original young stars, Edward Marshall (Mumbles), Julia Slappey [Lovett] (Doria), and Stratton Leopold (the Acrobat) went on to successful careers on Broadway, the opera stage, and in Hollywood films.


A Musical Comedy

(Based on The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan)

Photo courtesy of Nelson Photography

     Set during WWI in the mountain town of Hot Springs, North Carolina, this family-centered love story tells of the unlikely match of Abel Ammons, a farmer and local fable-teller, with Hilda Marx, a beautiful German opera singer who just happens to be in the U. S. when war is declared.

     As an "enemy alien," she, her fiancé Hans Müller, and several hundred other German citizens are "imprisoned" in remote Hot Springs for the duration of the war.  Hilda and Abel fall in love, and she breaks her engagement, but their future life together is further complicated by the fact that Ben, Abel's son, is an American soldier fighting Hilda's countrymen in Germany.  And Hans takes dastardly actions of his own to break up their marriage.

     During the course of the play, Abel tells two stories about his fable character, Lanky Loosebottom (Lonagan), to the three children, Marcie, Josh, and Rachel, who provide much of the charm of this story.  It is a heart-warming, life affirming, feel-good evening of theatre with Jones's most gentle and tuneful score.


Musical selections from Treasures by C. Robert Jones

Arrangements, Jimmy Hicks

Pianist/Conductor, Dewitt Tipton

"Mandy Lou/You'll Turn My Head" 

If I Were a Clown (1:31) performed by Jim Moody

Katharine's father learns of Paul's valiant attempt to save the farm. Impressed by Paul's sense of responsibility, Philip Devereaux grants an extension, and the story ends happily.

     The two-character show is set in Northampton, Massachusetts on the evening of May 6, 1852 at a farewell concert (based on fact) that Jenny and her accompanist husband, Otto Goldschmidt, gave as a benefit shortly before returning to Europe. Jenny sings many of the great songs and arias which she made famous . . . and weaves together her remarkable story, including her friendships with Felix Mendelssohn, Frederic Chopin, and even Queen Victoria

      The two performers playing Jenny and Otto must be exceptional musicians for this tour de force theatre piece.

Sung by Linda Edwards, Jason Aycock, 
Jeremy Gale and Justin Phaneuf

The play was filmed by WSPA-TV (CBS).



The delightful score includes: Beans; a round called When You Smile; and Every Time You Lose You Are Winning.

Below: Jane Lynn McKinney and Dwight Bradley

    as Sassy and Lump

    The Clown, with a sprightly and tuneful score, was the Little Theatre's first play for children. It was later filmed by WSAV-TV (NBC).

Pictured at right are Vance Reece (accompanist), Amanda Horton (soprano), 

and C. Robert Jones at the play's first public reading in Asheville, NC.

     In desperation. Dr. Tutto confesses his wrong-doing and Mumbles returns, triumphant. He gets a raise . . . and the fair Doria.     

     Doria thinks Mumbles, whom she has come to love, is guilty because some of the stolen money has been hidden in Mumbles's pocket, and he cannot explain its presence there.  Gino, the Stiltwalker, is pressed into clown duty, but he is terrible . . . thus providing some of the most delightful moments of the play.

     Premiered by the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre (SART), and published shortly thereafter, Mandy Lou has had three different productions at the theatre, and remains SART's most popular and well-attended new play.

      The play is performed without intermission, running about 90 minutes.  There is a shorter version of about 45 minutes in length, designed for touring to schools.

The Black and White Ball from Rivals


A Musical Romance

"The Debutante Cotillion Ball" from Mandy Lou

     Jenny Lind was probably America’s first musical superstar. When she was brought to the United States in 1850 by P. T. Barnum, she was already established in Europe as one of the most brilliant singers of the century. 

     Called the Swedish Nightingale, she turned the country upside down. There were riots to get into her concerts. Barnum managed her nearly-two year tour (her only one to the U. S.) so well that a whole cottage industry grew up around her, her name being given to a wide array of places and things. 

A Belonging Place

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts

The Life and Music of Stephen Foster

Robert King as Stephen Foster, Culturefest, Mars Hill College

All photos by John Campbell

Above: Mandy Lou and friends singing "South Carolina"

Angel Jackson and Susan King (seated on floor, front)

Linda Edwards, Debbie Deaton, Tim Walker (2nd row)

David Motte, Ken Wilson, Chuck Montgomery,

    and Tony Haire (3rd row)

What Love Is (1:51) performed by Mary Kathryn Lyerly

The Spelling Bee

Now the Moment of Love Belongs to Me (3:48) performed by Pam Smith, David Covington, Pam Polk, Neil St. Clair, Theresa Phillips, and Warren Pearson. Dewitt Tipton, pianist:

More Full-Length Musicals!

     When Helen Graham McMaster, the patrician and dynamic South Carolina belle, meets John Ellington White, the brilliant athlete and scholar from Wake Forest College on the campus of Mars Hill College in the western North Carolina mountains, nothing is ever the same for them or the College again. 

     Their powerful story, along with that of another young Turk, Thomas M. Hufham, is engaging, thoughtful, funny, and ultimately inspiring.  Together, they bring lustre for generations to come to the place which has brought them all together.

     Among the large cadre of students who share near-equal billing are the star-crossed lovers, Alba Yates and Willis Morgan.  The period is 1890-1891, and the charming musical score reflects a simpler time and place.

be the daughter of the president of the bank that holds the mortgage on the farm. Paul stumbles over the word "exaggerate," and loses the bee. Mumbles makes sure that 

A one-person musical play about one of the most admired men in show business. 

     By the turn of the 20th Century, Bert Williams–-actor, singer, dancer, composer, comedian, playwright–-was already established as one of the best-known black performers in the United States, and he soon was to conquer England, as well. He first gained fame as half of the popular Williams & Walker Comedy Team with George Walker as his partner. 

A Play With Music

A Musical Comedy
9 men, 9 women - one interior set

is $100, just enough to stave off the bank long enough to give their father another chance.

5 men, 3 women, 3 children - one interior set

       A smash hit when it premiered at the Little Theatre of Savannah, Georgia,

The Clown is the story of Mumbles, a shy clown, who falls in love with the beautiful ballerina, Doria.  When Dr. Tutto, the jealous circus owner discovers this, he frames Mumbles with the theft of the cicus's money box, and Mumbles is banished.

The Clown

4 males, 1 female, ensemble

(1:50)     Honored with a David B. Marshall Award in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan, this delightful musical comedy premiered at the grand opening of Owen Theatre at Mars Hill College (now University) in 1973. Derived from the classic play which gave the word "malapropism" to the English language, this musical confection is set in London and in Paris at the time of the opening of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

     Lydia Languish, the richest girl in the world, wants to marry a poor man.  Unfortunately, Jack Absolute, the man with whom she falls in love, is also rich.  When he pretends poverty to win her hand, the calamities of mistaken identities, misdirected letters, and the vicissitudes of love, provide a charming and witty battle of the sexes.  The play contains one of Jones's most ambitious and lyrical musical scores.

     Musical selections from Rivals by C. Robert Jones (The volume on these tracks is very low and will need to be adjusted for optimal playback):

      A Brand New Leaf (1:50) performed by Chuck Montgomery and David Covington. Dewitt Tipton, pianist:

       Once again, Mumbles, the shy clown from The Clown (see above)becomes a hero . . . this time at a spelling bee.

     When Paul and Cassandra learn their farm might be repossessed after flood damage has ruined their father's crops, the two children set off by night on the twenty-mile walk to Clifton so Paul can enter the annual spelling bee. The prize