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John and Joy Rushton take full advantage of Holidays

by Mark Burger

When it comes to the holiday season, I think it’s safe to say that John Rushton is is a bit of a Christmas ham. He’s certainly not a turkey, at Christmas-time or otherwise, but he really enjoys reveling in, and ringing in, the holidays. And that goes double for his wife, Joy.

Rushton unabashedly and unapologetically loves the whole holiday scene. Thanksgiving, Christmas, turkey dinners, trimming the tree, singing carols.

“I am not a cold-weather person,” says Rushton. “I loathe cold weather, but there’s something about the holidays that keeps me warm. Everybody gets together and does their own thing. It just doesn’t seem to work that way the rest of the year.”

Corny? Sentimental?

Guilty! Rushton laughs as he ‘fesses up.

“I love whole thing,” says Rushton, “Of course, I love performing – it’s what I do! – and when you see the faces of people that you’re singing with… and singing to… well, it just feels good.”

For the past several years, the Rushtons have been spreading holiday cheer with Victorian Voices, an eight-member a capella singing group comprised of members of the West Side Civic Theatre, which the Rushtons founded (and which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary next year).

Since the theater is an outdoor venue – located at Shallowford Square in Lewisville – it generally goes on hiatus during the colder months.

Touring with Victorian Voices, Rushton says, “was a way for us to keep the theater family together during the winter months. We like spending time together and we like performing together. It’s a lot of fun and we love being a part of that holiday spirit.”

Joy Rushton had been a member of a similar group when she first moved to the area more than 15 years ago. “There was nothing down here like that, so we had a bit of novelty.”

The novelty caught on, and when Joy and John married, they talked about reviving the concept. Since then, they’ve toured extensively throughout the state with Victorian Voices. Not only is it a good way to celebrate the holidays (and indulge their own love for them), but it also keeps them sharp as performers.

But, notes Rushton, “You have to be careful, otherwise you’ll find yourself booked every night of the week leading up until Christmas. If we performed for every group that requested us, we literally would be.

“But we’re not complaining,” he adds with a laugh. “We’re pretty proud that it’s become as popular as it is.”

There’s a lot of conjecture about the early (and excessive) commercialization of Christmas, which sometimes seems to begin around Labor Day.

There is a silver lining, however, as demand for Victorian Voices heats up as early as October, which means that the Rushtons can schedule their appearances accordingly. Some gigs, they admit, take precedence, even if it means turning down a paying one.

“Samaritan Ministries and the Children’s Hospital, and charities like those, are very near and dear to us – and have been for a long time,” says Joy. For those gigs, she notes, the group will either work for free or donate their performance fee to the organization in question. The paying gigs are their own version of a Christmas club – money to buy extra presents for the kids and friends, or maybe a bigger turkey for Christmas dinner.

“If you can’t give back a little bit during the holidays – using your talent and your time – well, shame on you!” Joy laughs. A little bit goes a long way.

Besides, Joy notes, “John looks great in Victorian costumes.”

By the way, John Rushton is also the vice-president in charge of production for Crimson Wolf Productions, which made the sci-fi feature Eyeborgs this past summer. For the many people who have inquired about the status of the film, here’s the latest: It’s currently being edited “and it’s looking good,” says Rushton, who also appears in a pivotal supporting role in the film. “Of course, I am a little biased – but only a little!”

(More about Eyeborgs as it shapes up.)

In the meantime, for more information about Victorian Voices, give the Rushtons a ring at 336.945.6209 or shoot ’em an e-mail at wsct@triad.rr.com – and tell them Mark Burger sent you.

Speaking of updates, the good people at the Triad Indie Film Network (TIFN), who are also the organizers of the Fruitcake Film Festival here in the Piedmont Triad are still encouraging filmmakers to participate. Not only is it free, but it can be fun.

You don’t even need a camera to make a movie – a concept I’d never considered, actually. You can use a digital camera, a still camera, your cell phone, stop-motion, or even old photographs. The film you make only needs to 10 seconds long.

When it comes to music and sound effects, there are countless resources online where you can download them for nothing (the Free Sound Project, Find Sounds, CCMixter, Free Music). As for editing software, you can download those from Windows MovieMaker stuff, iMovie Downloads and More free video editing.

Or you can simply contact the organizers at triadindie.org/ for all the details you’d need.

The big screening event will be Dec. 20 at Open Space Café Theatre (4609 W. Market St., Greensboro) so there’s still plenty of time!

For questions or comments email Mark Burger Marksburger@yahoo.com

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