HIGH SPRINGS – After a few hours of driving, the couple arrived at the High Springs Community Theater to a sold-out show. Luckily, the theater was able to find them a seat for the play. Some weren’t as lucky.

The High Springs Community Theater finished its three-week run of the play “The Homecoming” last weekend. Each of the nine showings was sold out.

“We had to turn people away,” said Arlene Levine, president of the theater.

From Dec. 6 to Dec. 22, people from Lake City to Ocala and everywhere in between came to see the play, said Wanda Roe, who co-directed the production.

The show was inspired by the book “Spencer’s Mountain,” which also inspired the TV show “The Waltons.”

It’s about a family struggling to get by in rural 1932 Virginia. The father of a family of eight has to take a job in a nearby community and has not yet arrived home for Christmas. The family is concerned about his absence, so sends the oldest child to brave a winter storm and find him. Along the way, she meets members of the community and learns about them and her father, having her misconceptions corrected along the way.

“It was just a heartwarming message,” Roe said.

Wanda Roe co-directed with her husband Pete. The couple wasn’t certain about working together at first.

“We weren’t sure if we would fight about it,” Wanda Roe said. “But we got along great.”

The play featured 28 actors from Alachua, High Springs, Gainesville and all around the area.

Working with such a large cast was challenging for the theater that usually deals with 10 actors or fewer, she said. Most of the actors were new to the stage, though there were some veterans.

The cast was comprised of a diverse cross-section of the area, including actors from ages 9 to 72 of multiple ethnic backgrounds.

There were also two students from Santa Fe High School who operated the sound and light boards.

“We could not have done it without everyone working together,” Roe said.

Community members from High Springs and beyond pitched in and provided props, costumes and help create the sets.

Throughout the three-week run, 675 people came to see the show, Levine said.

The themes and messages of “The Homecoming” resonated well with the audience, Roe said.

“Family is the best gift of all,” she said. “That’s the theme that attracted most people to the show."  

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