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By Elizabeth Tanner
“Say Nicklaus!” has officially returned to Ragtown Gospel Theater’s stage just in time for Christmas. However, this year, the joyful Christmas classic is filled to the brim with new casting, more music and even an out-of-the-ordinary director.
“It will be different from all those that have come before it,” Writer and Composer Chip Polk said. “It will be the first Ragtown production that Glenn Polk has entrusted to another director.”
Undergoing an extensive spinal surgery only a day before the Nov. 7 debut of “Say Nicklaus!”, Glenn Polk handed over his directing duties to Christopher Smith for Ragtown’s 45th production.
“As most who attend our shows know, Glenn has had several back procedures over the course of the past several years,” Chip Polk said. “His condition has continued to deteriorate, and he was ultimately referred to a surgeon in Dallas who is confident that this procedure will give him a good chance of recovering his mobility and reducing, if not eliminating his pain, which has been chronic and severe. I’m confident that Glenn’s determination, his devotion to the Lord and his love for the people who attend our shows will bring him roaring back to stage in no time.”
While Smith is new to directing, he is not unknown to Ragtown regulars. In fact, he has filled major roles in six production since 2014, including his current role of Cornelius Houchen, an irascible school headmaster who is determined to prevent Nicklaus and Meena Elliffe from distributing Christmas toys to the orphaned children of State Home for Children Number 13.
Assisting Smith is his wife, Sarah, who has returned to her role as Ula Goiterflaven, Headmaster Houchen’s smitten assistant, and their eldest sons, Camden and Cayson, who serve as two of the nine children, ranging from 6 to 16, that live at a facility for orphaned, abandoned and abused children.
Stepping into Glenn Polk’s on-stage role as the warm and lovable Nicklaus Ellifee is Travis Burge, who also sports an extensive list of on-stage credentials, including his chilling portrayal of Satan in the 2018 production of “Bethlehem.”
Another change in this year’s casting is the role of Nicklaus’ wife, Meena, who will be played by Hope Sismore, a theater arts teacher at Trinity High School who is new to the Ragtown stage.
“Splendidly gifted young people whose hearts are united with ours in the mission of this theater have been placed around us just when we needed them,” Chip Polk said. “Glenn is extremely grateful for the commitment of each of these gifted people who are stepping into roles he and his wife, Twila, would normally fill, giving him sufficient time for rehab and recovery. We are so incredibly thankful.”
Other cast members include Nathan Taylor, Luke Blackmon, Michael Williams, Zachary Sawyer, Rayna Henson, Carson Pedroza, Addison Ramsey, Swayzee Henn, Kenzie Ramesy and Nixon Polk.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever had as many extraordinarily talented people in a musical,” Chip Polk said. “I guarantee everyone is going to love it. Chris and his cast are working very hard to surpass everyone’s highest expectations and I know they will.”
“Say Nicklaus!” is scheduled for 3 p.m. each Saturday through Dec. 19, with the exception of Thanksgiving weekend. An additional Sunday matinee performance is set for 3 p.m. on Dec. 13.
Each performance will be preceded by a special Christmas concert by Chip Polk and a variety of guest singers.
Tickets are $22 for adults, $10 for children, and active military and veterans are admitted free of charge.
For more information about tickets and the theater’s Covid-19 policy, visit ragtown.com or call 877-724-8696.
“Please start making plans to come see this beautiful and heart-warming production,” Chip Polk said. “We look forward to seeing everyone come through the doors at Ragtown for this wonderful play.”