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Leila Sisson Mase: A lot of jumpin’ and jivin’ going on

It was a cold and rainy night in Americus but that didn’t daunt folks from heading downtown, specifically to the historic Rylander Theatre for one of the best musical performances we’ve had the opportunity to attend in a while.
The talented musicians in “Forever Young” put on a fantastic show that had the audience jumpin’ and jivin’ all night long. We had so much fun despite the ordeal of dodging raindrops and stepping in big puddles from the car to the theater and finally getting to our seats. There was a minor mix-up on our seats (my fault) that turned out OK because former residents Luke and Susan Flatt of Albany, and Grier Smith Allen of Leesburg, and Beth Alston, were sitting to our left.
The five cast members in “Forever Young” captivated from the minute they danced on stage until the final number. Of course, they received a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd.
“Forever Young” is reportedly based on a true story of five best friends who discover that a record player (remember those) can truly change everything. The cast — Justin Sassanella, Avilla Martin, Chadd Ruden, Brad Baker, and Ryan Appleby — told the story through song and dance that was a mix of pop, rock, and country classics. During the closing number, they explained the performance was really a tribute to your life and music. Incidentally cast member Brad Baker is a former Americus resident, son of John Baker, a previous director of the famed Americus High Singers.
Kudos as well to Americus residents Nyla Franklin and Charlotte Lunneborg who participated on stage in a couple of the numbers and did a phenomenal job, going along with the cast like they did this every day. Good job, ladies, on your Rylander stage debut!
Some people we spotted in the auditorium were Carol Sears, who I haven’t seen in a while, Bill and Jan Bird, Bill and Meda Krenson, Meg Usrey, Hope Henderson, Donna and David Minich, and here especially for the show were former residents Ginger and Jerry Perkins of Opelika, Ala., and her mom, Mervin Brown of Americus. Ginger is recovering from a serious illness and this was her first major outing.
A heartfelt thank you to Mary Perry of Parrott who helped me avoid a disaster. And happy birthday wishes to Anne Barrett, my daughter-in-law, a grandtoddler Bennett Vann, turning two, Beth Carroll and Nancy Miller, and congratulations to Heather and Chris Stanley who celebrated their ninth wedding anniversary.
Randy and Nancy Jones and family, including Nancy and Paul Fitzgerald and daughter Kate of Americus, and Macon daughter Jenny and family joined their daughter Stephanie Jones in Atlanta for the recent inaugural ball of newly elected Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Nancy said they had a fabulous time; Nick Owens and James Edgemon are home after a globe-trotting tour of London and Paris, and Sue Fitzgerald and David Bottomley are back in town after spending Christmas in England with David’s family, while Jane Wilson Abernathy is back from a trip to Hawaii with her daughter, Betsy.
Meanwhile, the Sumter Historic Trust education committee — Kim Christmas, Lee Kinnamon and Meredith Owen — met recently with Kim Fuller of Plains, executive director of the Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, to make plans for a tour of Plains from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. This is not your ordinary tour of the hometown of our 39th U.S. President. It will have a different twist that will be educational as well as amusing, and with several surprises in store including visiting some of the ghosts at the Carter Haunted House. You’ll get an exclusive behind the scenes tour of Plains, and hear never-heard stories of growing up a Carter.
Tickets are limited. They are available online through Sumter Trust’s website www.sumter historic trust.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.