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New Orleans crew assist with Toyland

By Staff
Melissa Cason, Franklin County Times
PHIL CAMPBELL-The Legend of Toyland opens its public performances tonight. Over the past month, cast and crews have been working to bring the magic of Toyland to children young and old.
Lots of hard work goes into making the production magical for the audience, and having good lighting and sound is essential to making any show great for the audience.
Entertainment Technical Supervisor for Harrah's Casino Fred Martinez along with his wife, Cassie Nichols, and friend, Jade Crowley, traveled hundreds of miles from New Orleans to provide quality lights and sound for the show.
"I have been doing the lighting for Toyland since 1996 with one year off so this is my tenth year here," Martinez said.
Martinez, a native of Russellville, said that he has been involved with the lighting and sound in the theatre since he was a freshman in high school.
This is Nichols' eighth year helping with the production.
"It's a lot of hard work, but when the lights come up and you hear the kids stomping their feet in excitement…that's what makes it all worth it," Nichols said.
Nichols and Martinez said that seeing the audience's reaction along with being a part of the longest running musical is what keeps them coming back each year.
"Cats ran for 20 years on Broadway," Martinez said. "That statistic alone says a lot about the show."
This year marks the 26th year for the production at the Northwest Shoals campus, but creator and director Lanny McAlister "dreamed" the show up in 1976 in Georgia before coming to teach at Northwest.
The lighting and sound team began preparing for the show a week ago, and worked diligently until opening day to make sure everything is perfect for the show.
The show opens tonight at 7 p.m., and will have two matinees at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday. There will also be another evening performance tomorrow beginning at 7 p.m.
All seats are $8, and are available at the campus bookstore or the cashier's office at the Muscle Shoals campus.