Hickory – Beautiful Star, an Appalachian Nativity, opening Friday November 30th at the Hickory Community Theatre, takes place at the Open Heart Community Fellowship, a small church in the mountains of North Carolina, where Reverend Roy Ledbetter and his wife Vestina are leading the congregation in the annual Christmas Pageant. In the Hickory production these roles are played by local actors James Grose and Hollie Sherrill.

Sherrill has been performing on the HCT stage since the 1983 production of Whose Life is It Anyway? where she played a nurse who is caring for a quadriplegic man. Since that first show she has done dozens more and has received three Kay awards – for playing the maid in The Torchbearers, Nurse in Romeo & Juliet and Vern in The Dixie Swim Club. Her most recent role was Julia in Lend Me a Tenor last January.

She has spent her time since then acting with The Green Bean Players, teaching at the Summer Shakespeare Camp and directing Macbeth for Shakespeare in the Park. Her favorite time at HCT though was getting to act with her two children, Caleb and Skyler, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

By contrast, Grose is a relative newcomer to HCT. He made his first appearance as Oliver Hix in The Music Man in 2015. He has been in four productions since then, Blithe Spirit, Peter & the Starcatcher, The Hobbit and most recently as Grandfather in Ragtime. Like Sherrill, he has also shared the stage with a family member, his wife Jill, in both The Music Man and Blithe Spirit. He was attracted to Beautiful Star because it is a different Christmas story and he gets to play God.

Originally from Lexington, KY, he has been living in Hickory for four years. He is a US Navy veteran and also plays trumpet and guitar.

Performances of Beautiful Star, an Appalachian Nativity are on Fridays and Saturdays (Nov 30 and Dec 1, 7, 8, 14 & 15) at 8:00pm, Thursdays (Dec 6 & 13) at 7:30pm and Sundays (Dec 9 & 16) at 2:30pm.

Tickets for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for students and youth 18 & under. Thursday night tickets for adults and seniors are $16, students and children are $10.

Tickets are on sale online at hickorytheatre.org or through the Theatre box office, in person or by phone at 828-328-2283. Box office hours are 12-5 Wednesday through Friday.

HCT is a Funded Affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. The Theatre’s 2018-2019 Season is sponsored by Paramount Automotive and A Cleaner World. Beautiful Star, an Appalachian Nativity is produced by Sunbelt Xpress.

Photo: Hollie Sherrill and James Grose play Reverend Roy and Vestina Ledbetter in Beautiful Star, an Appalachian Nativity, on stage at the Hickory Community Theatre November 30th through December 16th. Call 828-328-2283 for information and tickets or visit www.hickorytheatre.org. Photo by John Koval.