Resounding Cymbals brings Big Band era to holiday stage, benefits cancer patients

For seven years, the community has been benefitting from the musical performances and theatrical productions of the Resounding Cymbals.

This year will prove to be no different when the group takes the stage for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Divine Providence Hospital Auditorium, 1100 Grampian Blvd. The musical, “about family and hope in the golden days of radio,” will benefit UPMC Susquehanna’s Cancer Centers and The Gatehouse.

Taking place in 1941, the story follows a family living in their San Francisco apartment in the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Radio plays a big part of the family’s life as they await the return of their loved ones around the holidays. Holiday classics will be enjoyed in the style of the 1940s Big Band era.

The group came together after a church production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in 2010, which included many of its original members. Tyler Crossley, artistic director, along with Sarah Crossley, head director, and Nate Losell, technical direction, decided to branch out on their own following the performance with the intent of starting an independent performing arts group.

The first official production as the Resounding Cymbals was “Merry Christmas Mayhem,” which Tyler said was in an old school building’s auditorium in December 2011.

“From there, we have grown our numbers — both members and fan base — and have established a stable cast that has become a big family,” he said.

Tyler added that what started with mostly performers from the church circuit has grown considerably thanks to Facebook and other social networking.

“We’re always looking for new members,” he said. “If you’re interested in joining Resounding Cymbals, please contact us on our website. Our mission is to provide quality entertainment to Williamsport and the surrounding area, using the talent of our community volunteers. I believe that everyone out there has talent that can be utilized in some way. It doesn’t matter who you are. There is always something for you to do with Resounding Cymbals.”

Since that first performance in 2011, Resounding Cymbals has focused mostly on plays, but have performed musicals, as well.

Past theatrical performances have included “You Can’t Beat the House,” Gap Fellowship Church; “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Williamsport Scottish Rite; “The Living Last Supper,” American Rescue Workers Community Church;” and “A Partridge in a Palm Tree,” Lycoming Presbyterian Church. Musicals include “The Road to Calvary,” The Gap Fellowship Church; “Follies in the Fall,” Pajama Factory; and “Moonlight in May,” the former Becht Community Center. One way the group merges music with theatre is through variety shows.

“These shows are presented in the format of classic late night shows, such as ‘Saturday Night Life’ and ‘The Tonight Show,’ and they feature various skits and novelty acts, with our house band playing in between acts,” Tyler said.

Helping to keep the show flowing, Booth 35 — with Tyler on keyboard, Losell on drums, Jamin Frear on bass, and Austin Leftwich on guitar — makes it fun and interesting to transition between acts and open the show, and perform as a backing band for guest vocalists. In addition to the variety shows, the band also plays at several community events and can be seen throughout the Williamsport night life.

The group’s Christmas performance, which is always free to the public, has been used as a way to give back to the community for several years.

Typically, guests are encouraged to bring a food donation to the performance, which is provided to a local charity.

This year, in honor of Tyler’s father, who passed away last December, donations will be accepted that will benefit patients of UPMC Susquehanna’s Cancer Centers and The Gatehouse.

“We hope to make this an annual thing,” Tyler said.

For more information about the Resounding Cymbals, visit www.resoundingcym or find them on Facebook @ResoundingCymbalsTheatreGroup.