published Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Musical 'The Least of These' premieres in Spring City


• What: "The Least of These."

• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1; 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7-8; 2 p.m. Dec. 9.

• Where: Tennessee Valley Theatre, 184 W. Jackson Ave., Spring City, Tenn.

• Admission: $12.

• Phone: 365-7529.

• Website:

A Christmas story read nearly 60 years ago has inspired a new Christmas musical that has its world premiere Friday, Nov. 30, at the Tennessee Valley Theatre in Spring City, Tenn.

"The Least of These," an original play by Rhea County resident Thomas Rodgers, will be offered six times through Dec. 9.

The musical, set in modern times, focuses on a homeless person and the founder/director of a rescue mission as they interact with various people on the day before Christmas.

"Back in 1953 when I was a kid," said Rodgers, who also directs the play, "I got a book, 'Christmas Legends.' One of those stories was the inspiration."

The Least of These is the name of the rescue mission, which is being threatened with closing to rid the business district and the town of the people who use its services.

Rodgers said the musical is "not overtly religious" but has somewhat of a social commentary. Its eight songs include "Aren't You Glad It's Christmas Once Again," which is sung by the business people happy for the ringing cash registers; "War on Christmas," sung by the religious zealots out to purify the holiday; and "Nimby" (Not In My Back Yard), sung by those who want the shelter closed.

Patrons of "The Least of These" are asked to bring a nonperishable food item for Ekklesia Bible Tabernacle, a nondenominational church in Dayton, Tenn., that distributes monthly food boxes to the elderly and other families experiencing economic hardship.

Recently, due to the closing of one source of food donations and the limiting of donations by a second organization, the church has had to cut the number of households served. All donations will assist needy families in the area.

Contact Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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