Bright Lights Little City celebrates one rural Appalachian community that embraced creativity without reservation, ensured success in self-determination, and through five decades has pursued the joy of self-discovery through the Arts. 

Designed as a half-hour special for national public television release, the film explores the unlikely history of the Crabtree family and the birth of the Cumberland County Playhouse through the voices of Broadway stage and Hollywood screen stars like Bob Gunton, Julie Ann Emery, Ruthie Ann Miles and the remembrances of Jim Crabtree, Bryce McDonald and current theater staff.

The documentary calls on family memorabilia, Playhouse production photos, and legacy footage from a variety of sources to share the story. Here is the creative grand gamble that—50 years on—is still paying dividends for the entire Cumberland Mountain Region and for audiences and actors from across the United States.

At least as important as the creative and economic opportunities brought to the mountain community are the cultural changes the theater has wrought. The Playhouse now hosts hugely diverse casts and takes on important, timely social issues. The enlightenment of this former ‘Sundown Town’ community has been dramatic and lasting.

Bright Lights Little City is set for national release in April of 2018.

-Todd Jarrell

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Watch Trailer Here!