Deb Rackley SJGC

Deb Rackley performs as the “Queen Bee” Sadie Gruesome in ‘Peggy Burton’s South Jackson Goes Country’ show which will take the stage this weekend.

COVID-19 can’t stop the spotlight from shining at South Jackson Civic Center (SJCC).

South Jackson Civic Center will host the 41st annual “Peggy Burton’s South Jackson Goes Country” the weekend of Aug. 14 through Aug. 16.

SJCC Executive Chairman Greg Gressel said, “It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year.” He noted the show helps to fund everyday functionality and operations.

Director Samantha Terrell-Watters said since the pandemic, maintaining social distancing was key for rehearsals for the cast and crew.

“We had multi-rehearsals going on at once” Terrell-Watters said. “We had different rooms going so they didn’t have to interact with each other.”

She added there will be temporary mic covers for each singer and cleaning in between sets.

“Lots of extra cleaning and temporary stuff that hopefully we won’t need to use in the future, but right now it is helping us get through and keeping everyone healthy,” Terrell-Watters said.

Gressel said some of the other precautions taken include having people calling the box office to get tickets so they can prepare to step up the auditorium arrangements as they are staying close to the half capacity limit of 231.

An example used was if a family of five call to reserve tickets they then can create a pod for the family and create some social distancing from other groups.

As for people buying tickets at door, Gressel said it will be come down to finding seats and sectioning off the area before bringing in the next group.

Terrell-Watters revealed this is her first time directing the show after 15 years of participating in it.

“Thankfully, we’re in a technological era that it makes it possible and I’m just an Excel spreadsheet nut,” Terrell-Watters said.

One new feature this year is that the shows will be live streaming on the SJCC website for people who don’t feel comfortable going to the show but still want to see it.

The cost of each show will be $30 for unlimited viewing on the website.

“There’s some people who feel they can’t come and see it and this is a way to see it in their living room,” Gressel said.

He added despite the pandemic seemingly setting things back, for the show, it’s actually helped progress the show faster.

“It was tough to organize in the beginning stages, but we’ve been able to get a lot more done in a shorter period of time,” Gressel said.

According to both Gressel and Terrell-Watters, planning takes more time than the rehearsals. Most of the planning is writing the commercials, the sketches in between performances, for the sponsors of the show. 

“I’ve heard it’s like the Super Bowl where people come just to see the commercials because they’re funny,” Terrell-Watters said.

One of the newest editions to the show is the foxcoon mascot, half fox and half raccoon, coming to life to take pictures with the kids.

SJCC is hosting another fundraiser to give the mascot a name. Gressel said they will be the top five names for people to vote on Friday and Saturday and they will reveal the name at the Sunday show. When someone donates at the SJCC website, they can submit a name in the notes section.

“We’re pretty excited as we don’t even know what his name will be,” Terrell-Watters said.

As for the show’s creator, Burton is taking on the role of show consultant.

“She’s a very important consultant and is a wonderful encourager,” Terrell-Watters said.

Both Gressel and Terrell-Watters praised Burton for continuing to be an influence to the local arts community.

“The love and appreciation that she’s had for the arts has been inspiring for multiple generations and that’s the reason we’re still kicking it at 41 years,” Gressel said.

For Friday and Saturday, the show starts with the Patio Stage Event at 6:30 p.m. with BBQ and concessions being served inside. The warm-up show on the main stage will start at 7 p.m. with the main show following at 7:30 p.m. As for Sunday, concessions will open at 12:45 p.m. with the warm-up show starting at 1:30 p.m. and the main show at 2 p.m.

Anyone interested in purchasing tickets must call the SJCC box office at 931-455-5321 to get tickets in advance for $20.  Tickets will also be available to purchase at the shows for $22. Masks are encouraged and social distancing requirements will be in place.

Kyle Murphy may be reached at kmurphy@tulalhomanews.com.

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