2018-10-10 / Front Page

A Different Kind of Friday Night Light


Cast member John Stewart leads the Miller County football team through the spirit line in Swamp Gravy: Fourth and Long. Cast member John Stewart leads the Miller County football team through the spirit line in Swamp Gravy: Fourth and Long. Real life and storytelling collided this weekend at Cotton Hall Theater. While the cast of Swamp Gravy: Fourth & Long told stories about football Friday nights in Colquitt, the Miller County High School marching band, football team, and cheerleaders were taking on a role they might not be used to—spectators.

“We were so excited to have the marching band, football team, and cheerleaders in the audience,” said Cotton Hall Artistic Director Will Murdock, “This show would not have come together in the way that it did without the help Coach Bell and Holly Thomas gave us.”

Thomas, the band director of the Pirate Pride marching band, loaned the production old band uniforms, instruments, and even a vintage marching banner for the set. And over the summer, she let Murdock observe the band’s rehearsals while he was still working on the play’s script. Murdock said, “It was really incredible to hear what they were able to create together, because where there was nothing… there was suddenly a song.”

While Thomas outfitted the production with band memorabilia, Miller County High School football coach, David Bell, helped the Swamp Gravy football team suit up—loaning jerseys, helmets, and football pads that were no longer in use. For him, the production hit close to home. After seeing the show, he said, “I recognized almost every one of the stories! The show was awesome! It captured exactly how important local sports are to our local history and community.”

A generous patron is to thank for the ticket donation that allowed the teams to attend the production, and Murdock thinks it made all the difference. He said, “I don’t think we could have asked for a better opening weekend. Between the Locals Night crowd on Friday, and having so many students and Miller County fans in the crowd on Saturday, it was just electric. The cast has worked so hard on this show, so to feel people respond to that in the way they have is really wonderful.”

The effort from the cast did not go unnoticed by band director Holly Thomas, who said, “Fourth and Long is perhaps one of the best Swamp Gravy productions ever! The storyline, acting, and production was nothing less than exceptional! The inclusion of football, cheerleading, and band brought the stories to life and reminded us that all three are important components of memorable Friday night lights.”

Audiences still have time to catch the show, which will run for the next three weekends at Cotton Hall Theater on October 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, and 27, 2018. Friday performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday performances begin at 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www.swampgravy.com or 1-229-758-5450.

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