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A Gift to Remember

A Gift to Remember

Tech Dept

An ongoing series of informational entries

Joseph Allen Robinette was born on February 8, 1939 in Rockwood, Tennessee. He earned a Bachelor's degree from Carson-Newman College in 1960 and was a teacher at Bearden High School in Knoxville from 1962-1963. Robinette received a Master of Arts in 1966 and a PhD in 1972, both from Southern Illinois University. He was a professor of theater arts at Rowan University from 1971-2005.

He is the author or co-author of 55 published plays and musicals. His works have been produced at The Theater at Madison Square Garden and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the BBC in Britain, and in all 50 states and 21 foreign countries.

Robinette collaborated with E.B. White on the authorized stage version of Charlotte's Web. Other dramatizations include The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Anne of Green Gables, and Debbie Macomber's Can This Be Christmas? (play title A Gift to Remember), and The Inn at Rose Harbor.

Joseph Robinette is both a Tony Award nominee and a Drama Desk Award nominee for the vocal text of the acclaimed A Christmas Story, The Musical. He is the recipient of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education's Distinguished Play Award for Sarah, Plain and Tall, and the Children's Theatre Foundation of America medallion, among other honors.

Our Blog

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Church Basement Ladies

Just as the four Church Basement Ladies are the backbone of their Minnesota

Lutheran Church, these four ladies - Debbie Mayberry (Mrs. Snustad), Kathy Rose

(Karin), Shelley Stephen (Mavis), and Sarah Grace Peglow (Signe) - make up the

backbone of this musical. I came into vocal rehearsals about a week after they

already started and soon realized that they were definitely in a league of their

own because of their musical backgrounds. I watched and listened in awe every

night of rehearsals as these ladies showed me that they are all truly “triple

threats” when it comes to their talents - acting, singing and dancing.

We’ve been together since late July, and we have become our own support group

for each other. Sharing family stories & events. Meeting family and friends.

Helping each other when help was needed, whether it was with lyrics and score

arrangements, bouncing dialogue off each other, figu ring out the best stage

blocking options, or just giving someone a ride to and from rehearsals. Although

we have all put in countless hours of work, both on the stage and at home in

preparation for this production, we are always able to find time to keep things

“light” by playing jokes on each other and just laughing about silly things we say

or do. More time than not, these ladies have supported, encouraged, and shared

their experiences with me to make me better in my role.

I will always be thankful for knowing and working (and I use that word lightly

because it really never felt like work - more like fun!) with these ladies.

“This is most certainly true!”

Tony Licata (Pastor Gunderson)

Our Latest Blog Entry

August 2022

Goodbye Harvey

Hello Church Basement Ladies

Our Latest Blog Entry

Readers Theatre​

July 22, 2022

Tellico Community Players announce Open Orientation for anyone interested in participating in the Readers’ Theater 2022 School Tour. Orientation will be held on Wednesday, August 17, from 10 AM until 11 AM at the Tellico Community Playhouse, 304 Lakeside Plaza.

Since 2011, TCP School Tour performers have taken a readers’ theatre program of exciting children’s literature to the Loudon County Elementary Schools. This year, we are featuring a wonderful program entitled “Smoky Mountain Stories” in tribute to the fun-filled poems and tales of our very own Great Smoky Mountains.

No experience is necessary to join in! All that is needed is a love of reading, children, and a small commitment of your time. If you have ever read aloud to a child, you are an experienced candidate. Everyone is welcome to join.

Sauni Rinehart interviews Courtney Woolard, Director and  Bailey Dufty who is playing HARVEY on TVN

The Woman behind Harvey

An ongoing series of informational entries

Our Latest Blog Entry

June 16, 2022

Mary Coyle Chase was born in Denver, Colorado (1907-1981), which is likely the model for the “western town” where Harvey takes place. When she was a little girl, her Irish uncles would amuse Mary with stories from Celtic mythology of pookas and banshees. She attended the University of Denver, and at age 17, was hired as a newspaper reporter, first for the Rocky Mountain News, and then as a freelance correspondent for United Press and International News Service.

Mary covered everything from three-alarm fires to society events. Her outrageous pranks, quick wit, and active imagination were well known. Mary married fellow reporter, Robert Lamont Chase, in 1928. She worked at the newspaper until one of her telephone pranks to an editor working to meet a deadline got her fired. She was briefly re-hired, but quit to pursue her writing and raise her three sons.

Mary began writing fiction, beginning with short stories and children’s books, but her greatest success came with the play, Harvey, which took two years to write. She meticulously constructed a miniature stage on the dining room table in her house in Denver so that she could imagine the characters’ movements. The play underwent at least fifty rewrites, some of them quite significant. Originally, when it was titled The Pooka, Harvey was a six-foot-tall parakeet. In a later version, The White Rabbit, Harvey was identified as audiences know him today, but the lead was a woman.

The Broadway production opened November 1, 1944 and ran for almost five years. It was directed by Antoinette Perry, the namesake of the Tony Awards. Former Vaudeville star Frank Faynote played the role of Elwood P. Dowd. Jimmy Stewart was one of his replacements later in the Broadway run and he played the role again in the 1950 movie.

When the play opened in New York, Mary and her husband were so low on funds they had to borrow $300 from a Denver bank in order to attend. "Money has never been anything you made," Chase once said. "It has merely been something you owed."

After Harvey’s success on Broadway, earning her a Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1945, Mary continued to write plays (15 total), but only with marginal success. She was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985 and the original manuscript for Harvey is at the University of Denver in Special Collections and Archives. Her biography, “Pulling Harvey Out of Her Hat: The Amazing Story of Mary Coyle Chase”, by Mimi Pockross, was published in 2020.

Tribute to Len Willis and Nick Brancik

An ongoing series of informational entries

The Tellico Community Players are heavy hearted by the passing of two treasured and long time members - Nick Brancik on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, and Len Willis on Sunday, May 8, 2022.

Nick Brancik was a dedicated TCP actor as well as an active participant In the everyday workings of the theatre for many years. His numerous roles included Jacob Marley in TCP production of The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge. He also played the role of Phillip Arnold in It's A Wonderful Life while simultaneously keeping the control booth at WBFR radio running during this live radio play AND entertaining everyone with his saxophone.

For almost two decades, Len Willis filled many roles with the Tellico Community Players including President, Artistic Director, Business Manager, and was a familiar face to our patrons as House Manager. Len was also a frequent director (including Glitter Girls, Second Samuel, and most recently, Crabcakes and Murder) and a recurrent actor (The Trip to Bountiful and Undercover Christmas just in the past year). When Len was not busy with the Playhouse, he hosted Tellico Village Television programs about golf and the Tellico Players.

The Tellico Community Players wish to thank everyone who has made a memorial donation to TCP in honor of Nick and/or Len. We truly appreciate the thoughtful way you have chosen to remember them while supporting our organization which meant so much to them.

We will truly miss you both!

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Playwright  Ron Hill

House for Sale

Our Latest Blog Entry

April 26, 2022

We had two special guests for our 4/23 and 4/24 performances - the author of House for Sale, Ron Hill, and his son, Tim! We are so pleased that they made the trip from Ohio to tour our theatre, meet the cast and director, and see our shows.

Join Artistic Director of the Tellico Community Players, Sauni Rinehart, as she chats with Annette Dufty and Tony Licata, two of the lead characters from the soon-to-open show, “House for Sale" at the Tellico Community Playhouse:

An ongoing series of informational entries

Our Latest Blog Entry

April 15,2022

Audition announcement

Auditions for Harvey will be 2pm - 5pm Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15 at the Tellico Community Playhouse. Performances will be July 28-31 and August 4-7. Visit to submit our online audition form. Auditioners will be cold reading from the script.

Cast of characters:

Myrtle Mae Simmons (f) - 18-30, young, want-to-be socialite, trying to find friends and adjust

after a move from Des Moines

Veta Louise Simmons (f) - 50s-60s, mother to Myrtle Mae & sister to Elwood, socialite, social climber, widow, recently moved home from Des Moines

Elwood P. Dowd (m) - 45-55, dignified yet dreamy, very charming, never married, always lived in his childhood home

Maid (f)- any age

Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet (f) - 65-70s, wealthy, distinguished member of Midwestern Society.

Ruth Kelly (f) - 25-30s, head nurse at Chumley's Rest Sanitorium, pretty

Wilson (m) - late 20-30s, sanitarium orderly, "strong arm", a bully

Dr. Lyman Sanderson (m) - late 20s-30s, good looking psychiatrist, very opinionated, Dr. Chumley's assistant

Dr. William Chumley (m) - late 50-70s, grey hair and glasses, confident and pompous, head of Chumley Rest Sanitorium

Betty Chumley (f) - 50-70s, good natured, more concerned with socializing than science

Judge Omar Gaffney (m) - 50-70s, elderly, white haired, solicitor of the Simmons

E.F. Lofgren (m or f) - 30s-50s, cab driver, streetwise

House for Sale

Our Latest Blog Entry

April 1,2022

Join us after the Sunday, April 24 matinee performance at 4pm for a special post-show “Talk Back” with House for Sale playwright, Ron Hill! Ron will share his experience as a playwright and, along with the director and cast, will take questions from the audience. This is your opportunity to get the inside scoop on how House for Sale evolved from concept to performance! This event is open to everyone; you do not need a ticket for the performance to attend.

Our Latest Blog Entry

March 15, 2022

Now that the set is built, the set designer and volunteers will paint the set flats, apply wallpaper, decorate the walls, and begin to acquire and put together large set props such as furniture to dress the set.

"I am excited to have the opportunity to design the set for the next Tellico Playhouse performance, House for Sale. Art has always been a passion of mine that I never had the time to pursue, until retirement. I am grateful that Tellico Village offers so many different opportunities, through both the Theater and the Art Guild, to expand and hone artistic skills. Set design is a new experience for me and I look forward to working with the director, Sauni Rinehart, to help bring her vision for the play to life."

Susan Licata, House for Sale Set Designer/Dresser

House For Sale

George Smiley, Doug La Couver, Kim Rohde, Mark Roberts (Not shown- Kim Pinto, George Bruss, Steve Hay, Hugh Aukerman, Joe Marlette)

Our Latest Blog Entry

House for Sale

March 7, 2022

The action never stops.....

The day after A Red Plaid Shirt closed, the TCP set construction crew was hard at work tearing down the set and building the new set for House for Sale, which opens April 21, in cooperation with Sue Licata, House for Sale Set Designer/Dresser.

"I am so proud of our guys and gals and the job they do time and again, and each time, I think they do a little bit better. The quality of our sets constantly improves, thanks to our volunteers!"

Joe Marlette, House for Sale Set Construction Crew Lead

Our Latest Blog Entry

February 21, 2022


    Sue Aukerman, Director

People have asked me what it is about directing a play that I enjoy so much. There are a whole bunch of things that excites me about the job, and I could do an entire new blog just about them. But the most enjoyable thing for me is the challenge of taking the written words of a playwright and bringing them to life on stage. With sounds, lights, and visual stimulation of the set; with the dialogue, movements, emotions, and facial expressions of the actors, the playwright’s words take on a three-dimensional quality of their own, and allow the audience to

become immersed in the story unfolding before them. The satisfaction of being a part of this achievement is indescribable.

Only one more weekend left to get tickets! I hope you are able to join us for a performance of A Red Plaid Shirt and that you enjoy it!

Directed by Sue Aukerman

Meet the cast

A Red Plaid Shirt

Part 2

January 29, 2022

With such a long break between the first attempt at putting on ARPS, and this one, I made the decision to start completely over with it. We held new auditions to choose the cast for the play, and I am very excited to have a great team of actors onboard. There are only 4 characters in this play, so it was important that each of them be good “fits” for the characters they will be playing. Actor needs to be believable when playing opposite someone as a part of a couple or as best friends. If there is no “chemistry” between actors in these situations, the audience easily sees it, and the believability of the story becomes more difficult to achieve.

I am very excited about the four actors that I have in ARPS. Russ Rinehart and Barbara Kistler-Martin have been cast as Marty and Deb, the main couple of our story. Those of you who are regular patrons of TCP productions will recognize Russ and Barbara from other TCP things they have been in. Bill Paxson and Lisa Silverman will play Fred and Gladys Baxter, long-time friends of Marty and Deb. It will be great having Lisa back on the TCP stage again. I am excited to have Bill to round out our group. He is new to the TCP family, having moved to Tellico Village just last fall from California. I know he will be a wonderful addition to our theater.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings today. I hope you are able to join us for a performance of A Red Plaid Shirt in February, and that you enjoy it!

Tribute to Julie Scheffer

January 31, 2022

The Tellico Community Players is again saddened at the loss of another dear member, Julieanne Sheffer, on January 18, 2022. Julie cherished her time with the TCP and was involved in many ways, but especially with all things related to costumes and makeup.

The Tellico Community Players wish to thank everyone who has made a memorial donation to TCP in honor of Julie. We truly appreciate the thoughtful way you have chosen to remember Julie while supporting our organization, which she treasured.

Your laughter is greatly missed, Julie!

Arsenic and Old Lace

Readers Theatre...All The Kings Women

A Tribute to Doris Ryan (always the actress)

January 16, 2022

Our hearts were broken when we learned of the peaceful passing of Doris Ryan on

December 11, 2011 at her home. 

Doris was a much beloved actress and director with the TCP for many years.

The Tellico Community Players would like to thank everyone who has made a memorial donation to TCP in honor of Doris. We truly appreciate the thoughtful way you have chosen to remember Doris while supporting our mission, which was near and dear to her heart.

We miss you, Doris!

A Red Plaid Shirt



Director Sue Aukerman

   "Take 2"

January 5,2022

After what seems like forever, rehearsals for the first Main Stage production of the 2022 season, A Red Plaid Shirt, are finally underway. A Red Plaid Shirt, ARPS, was originally scheduled to open in April of 2020. As with so many things that year, we were forced to reschedule it several times, then finally canceled it all together. TCP’s Artistic Director, Sauni Rinehart, made the decision to add it to the 2022 calendar, and so here we go again! I am fortunate to have been asked again to direct the production, but there have been several major changes to both cast and crew. With just a little bit of gentle persuasion, my husband, Hugh, has agreed to take on the task of being my assistant and Stage Manager. During rehearsals, the stage manager’s responsibilities are mainly as a second pair of eyes and ears as the actors and director work through blocking and dialogue to polish, perfect, and develop the characters. As rehearsals progress, the Stage Manager works closely with the crew – lights, sound, props, set crew, etc. - to organize and develop the hundreds of directions that will be given during a performance that make things happen. This may seem like an easy task, but it really is anything but! Look for more details in upcoming Blog posts about what it is like to be the Stage Manager during a performance.

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings today. I hope you are able to join us for a performance of A Red Plaid Shirt in February, and that you enjoy it!

An ongoing series of informational entries

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