French Lick shows a new challenge for Jasper native

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

FRENCH LICK — Shalyn Grow of Jasper, 23, remembers a particular Christmas decoration from her childhood: a robot Santa doll that sang and shook its hips to “Jingle Bell Rock.” She remembers making the Santa play over and over, much to the annoyance of her family. Now, several years later, she’s singing and dancing to “Jingle Bell Rock” on stage in French Lick for Abbeydell Hall’s show, “Christmas Treasures.”

Grow

“It’s kind of a nostalgia, I guess,” she said.

Abbeydell Hall opened earlier this year at The Legend of French Lick, also known as the former residence of basketball legend Larry Bird.

The Legend owners Mike and Debbie Hicks teamed up with producer Rhett Thomas to bring original Branson, Missouri-style shows to French Lick. The first show, “Twist the Night Away,” opened in October, and the hall is now showing “Christmas Treasures.”

Grow performed in both shows.

She graduated from Western Kentucky University this year with a degree in musical theater. She plans to move to California in January to pursue an acting career, and she didn’t expect to land any professional roles before the move. Then, she heard about Abbeydell Hall. She sent her information to Thomas, and he called her within an hour to set up an audition for that night. After the audition, Thomas hired Grow for both “Twist the Night Away” and “Christmas Treasures.”

“It was nice,” Grow said. “The worst part of these things is the wait.”

Grow soon discovered that the Abbeydell Hall shows were unlike anything she’d done before. She’s used to musical theater that produces shows with a storyline and characters. The Branson-style shows Abbeydell Hall puts on don’t have either. Instead, they have high-energy song and dance routines to popular songs and audience interaction.

“Christmas Treasures,” for example, has a cast of six performing classic Christmas songs including “White Christmas,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Mary Did You Know?” and “Winter Wonderland.”

“Doing something that’s constant singing and dancing without the characters is challenging for me in a different way,” Grow said.

Part of the challenge was learning much of the material on her own outside of rehearsals and shorter rehearsal periods, which Grow said is “just part of entering the professional world.” The other challenge was learning to improvise more with her fellow castmates to make the show exciting for the audience.

“Christmas Treasures” has two more showings, one at 8 p.m. this Saturday, and one at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Tickets are $24, or patrons can purchase tickets for dinner and the show for $39. Dinner is at 6:45 p.m.

Grow recommends the show for anyone looking for a fun night out.

“It’ll put you in the Christmas spirit, and it’s family-friendly,” she said. “It would be a fun little evening adventure.”




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