American Music Jubilee starting TV show

pseligson@newsobserver.comMarch 7, 2014 

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    American Music Jubilee

    When: Saturdays and Thursdays, either 1:40 p.m. or 7:40 p.m.; call ahead for times and dates.

    Where: The Rudy Theater, 300 N. Raiford St., Selma.

    Tickets: adults, $19.50; children, $14.50; but prices change depending on the season and seating location.

    Contact: 919-202-9927, toll free 1-877-THE-RUDY (843-7839), amjubilee.com.

The American Music Jubilee hopes to turn the family, fun and humor of creating live entertainment into a TV show.

The Jubilee is a variety show of mostly country music with clean humor and a focus on American pride. Known as family-friendly, the Jubilee calls Selma’s Rudy Theater home and is a main entertainment draw in Johnston County.

Spook Joyner, the show’s owner and producer, has come together with some business associates and filmed a pilot for a reality TV show. They have already pitched the show to TV networks; Joyner wouldn’t reveal who is looking at buying the show, but he said three major networks are interested. He should know in about four months whether the show will be picked up.

The show would focus on the process of putting together a live performance and how the cast and technical staff work together. “Lighthearted controversy and a lot of humor,” Joyner said, describing the content.

“It’s about life at the theater and somebody getting there late, me getting on them; or somebody getting on somebody else’s harmony part, and they get to fussing about it, and I go in and straighten it out; or somebody gets somebody’s coat,” Joyner said.

Joyner said TV needs more positive, family-friendly shows. He wants to recreate the “Andy Griffith Show” with music. The theater is a family, and shows always end in prayer.

“I can’t misrepresent the theater,” Joyner said. “The theater is about God and country. That’s the American Music Jubilee.”

“I wasn’t going to allow any negative stuff or any ugly talking because we get a lot of church groups, and I just don’t want to misrepresent it,” he said. “A lot of the reality show stuff is trashy, and we just found out early in the game that we weren’t going to allow that.”

If picked up, episodes will likely be 30 minutes. Joyner isn’t sure of a title, but current ideas include “Life in the Rudy” and “Spook at the Rudy.”

The Jubilee performs three different shows each year, with about 30,000 people attending annually; Christmas is the busiest time. Joyner also plays guitar on stage, along with a bassist, drummer, pianist and steel guitar player. The show also includes men and women singers and a comedian. Along with theater staff, the show employs about 20 people, Joyner said.

Singer Angela Resignalo said she is excited to let the world know how the show comes together. “Everybody’s always asking what do you all do to get ready and how much y’all practice, and not really many people know how much work goes into putting a show together,” she said. “So it will be exciting for people to get to see kind of the behind-the-scenes of what we go through.”

Like many of the people who work on the show, Resignalo, a hairstylist, has a full-time job outside of the theater. She commutes to Selma from Greensboro. “We’re like a big family down there, so everybody gets along,” she said. “I just love doing it. That’s why I make the sacrifices I do.”

The pilot episode focuses on the back stories of cast members. “It was kind of nerve-wracking to begin with,” Resignalo said. “Just like figuring out what I wanted to say and just trying to be myself I guess was the hardest thing to do to start with.

“I didn’t know if I was talking to the person working the camera or if I was talking to the camera. I felt like I needed to interact with somebody. It was pretty hard just to stare into a big camera lens and spill my life story.”

Singer Donnie Strickland agreed that adding cameras to the mix was an adjustment. When on stage in the spotlight, “you’re in that moment,” he said. “I can stand and sing in front of a million people. But when you don’t know the camera’s watching or you’re just looking right dead straight at the cameram it just kind of hits you.”

“You kind of freeze up a little bit. What am I going to say? Am I going to say something wrong?” Strickland said, laughing.

Joyner showed the pilot last month to members of the Greater Area Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce. Selma Mayor Cheryl Oliver said the pilot was great and that the show had a lot of potential.

If picked up by a network, Oliver said, the show would give Selma visibility. Tourists would recognize the name of the theater. “Hopefully, they’d stop, come see the show, come spend a night in the hotel, do some shopping,” she said. “I think the benefit could be to Selma but to all the surrounding community.”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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