‘Welcome to Virginia’ auditions set

Diamont -
Kent -

Auditions for the Surry Arts Council’s production of “Welcome to Virginia” are Monday and Tuesday, from 6 until 7:30 p.m. both days at the Surry Arts Council Photo Gallery, which is next to the office at 218 Rockford St.

The play was written by Cameron Kent, the former Emmy-award-winning news anchor at WXII-12 News in Winston-Salem, and a member of the N.C. Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

He has published five novels: “The Road to Devotion,” “When the Ravens Die,” “Make Me Disappear,” “Mayor Molly” and “The Sea is Silent.” His other writing credits include four films which have aired on NBC, HBO, Lifetime and at the American Film Institute.

“I’m so honored to have my Christmas musical performed at the historic Andy Griffith Playhouse,” Kent said. “It’s the perfect venue and audience for this show.”

“I’m also very fortunate to be working with Debby Diamont, who’s directing the play,” Kent continued. “Debby and I have been dear friends ever since we worked together when she was doing the weather and I was doing the sports at WXII. The show is in good hands.”

Diamont enjoyed a successful career in film and television until she retired in the 1990s to raise her three children.

She fell back on her Bachelor degree in Music Education and Masters of Arts in Teaching from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to teach choral music, theater arts, and television production in the public schools. She also attended University of North Carolina at Greensboro for her doctoral studies.

After 23 years and 75 productions at Mount Airy High School, Central Middle School, North Surry High School and the Surry Arts Council, Diamont retired again and usually fills her days working part-time as a handbell director at First United Methodist Church of Pilot Mountain, traveling professionally as an educational tour guide, taking care of her mother, and helping her husband, Coach David Diamont, write a book. She was also recently appointed to the Surry Community College Board of Trustees by Governor Cooper.

While attending the premiere of “Welcome to Virginia” last year, Diamont was very impressed.

“Cameron cleverly combined a laugh-a-minute storyline with some very poignant moments of redemption for his everyman-type characters. Add the subtle weaving of a modern-day Nativity story within the plot and twelve memorable musical numbers to the mix, and you have a great afternoon or evening of entertainment for the whole family.”

“Welcome to Virginia” tells the story of five people stranded at an interstate rest area. Frank Loudman, a brash billionaire businessman, is trying to run away from Christmas to avoid a painful past. He finds himself stuck with his homespun secretary, Kristine; Charlie, a janitor who just wants to get home; Tom, a homeless country musician; and Mary Beth, a young widow who is pregnant.

“Through a heartfelt and hysterical series of revelations from this motley crew of cold-weather captives, Frank begins to reconnect with his younger self, who actually loved Christmas,” the Surry Arts Council said of the production. An original musical, Kent wrote not only the story, but the music and lyrics as well.

“The key to a good production is a great cast,” Diamont said. “So I encourage any professional or amateur who wants to be involved on the ground floor of an original production before it’s published to audition. It’s a chance-of-a-lifetime to work with the playwright – most actors never get that experience.”

There are parts available for men and women, ages 16 and older. Those auditioning should come prepared to sing and read from the script; self-accompaniment (guitar only) is encouraged. Performances are Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 8-9, at 3 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and available for purchase online (www.surryarts.org), by phone at 336-786-7998, or at the Surry Arts Council office. For additional information, contact Shelby Coleman at 336-786-7998 or shelby@surryarts.org.


Production written by Cameron Kent