Nov 20

ART BEAT: "A Very Grinchy Christmas" returns and a local chorus wins national recognition

By: Holley Calmes

Published: November 20, 2014

The holidays are filled with performances and events to raise the spirits and celebrate this special time of year. Some of the events are familiar and well loved, such as “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” Yet, there is a bounty of other activities, some which might offer surprises.

For the past five years, Southern Ballet Theatre has offered an alternative to the traditional Nutcracker. “A Very Grinchy Christmas” is a full-length presentation based on the Dr. Seuss book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” With a cast of over 50 dancers, audiences can enjoy this twist on the usual holiday fare.

“Grinchy” will be performed on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. Advance tickets are $16.50 for adults, $14.50 for students and seniors, and $11.50 for groups of 10 or more. Tickets at the door are $18.50, $16.50 and $11.50 respectively. They can be purchased at, by visiting the Gwinnett Center Box office in the Arena Building, or by calling 888-929-7849.

Lead roles include the Grinch, performed by Artistic Director Brandon Chitwood, Cindy Lou-Who, performed by Faith Candino, a junior at Grayson High School, Max, performed by Caroline Deedy, a senior at Greater Atlanta Christian, and Sister Lou Who, performed by Alyssa Watkins, a junior at Central Gwinnett High.

Other cast members include students from Southern Performing Arts Academy, where Southern Ballet Theatre has its home. Guest dancers will perform the roles of Little Who-Girls, Mice and Soldiers.

For those who especially enjoy this annual production, better be sure to attend this year — it’s the last one for a while, at least.

“We would like to thank all of our patrons that have supported ‘Grinchy’ for all 5 years,” Co-Artistic Director Alicia Chitwood said. “We are excited to put ‘Grinchy’ in the SBT vault and debut ‘The Polar Express’ next November 2015.”

On another front, Gwinnett performing arts nonprofit Atlanta Harmony Celebration will be celebrating a little early. AHC, a female barbershop chorus, is coming off a great result from the International Contest and Convention in Louisville, Ky., last weekend. They earned a 10th-place finish and were the only southern group to place this high among the many groups who competed.

AHC Director Kathy Stone said, “This is the first time we’ve broken into the Top 10. There were over 60 choruses competing throughout the year to earn a spot in this contest and, after we won our Area Contest, in the spring, we earned the right to compete on the ‘Big Stage.’ The other nine winners were from the northeastern part of the US.”

Like their fellow Gwinnett-based a capella barbershop harmony group, the Stone Mountain Chorus, AHC is looking for more voices. To find out about their activities and participation, visit the website at

For information about Southern Ballet Theatre, go to their website at

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at [email protected]