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Friday, December 15, 2017

Fort Thomas Children Help Star in Crossroads Last "Awaited"

Often lost amidst the holiday hustle is the meaning behind Christmas.  Families who celebrate the Christian faith often have unique, church-focused traditions to ensure the Advent and Christmas season is faith-based.  One tradition many local families enjoy is now in its 11th year of production- Awaited, written, produced, and hosted by Crossroads Church.  For a dozen Fort Thomas children, this year they will not only be attending this hard-to-get ticketed production but also will be joining the cast and crew.

According to their press release, Awaited is the “highest-attended Christmas performance” in the city with two locations and 130,000 total guests over 47 different shows.  The tickets are free but they do go quickly and thus can be difficult to come by (to get tickets, go to The final show will be on December 23.

For a little background, Crossroads advises, “Awaited is an original Crossroads production which began in 2007. Utilizing all local and largely volunteer talent for everything from costume and set design to musical arrangements and dance, it’s a Christmas experience for the whole family. The show includes 450 cast and crew, 2 ten-piece bands, adult and children’s choirs, original dance performances, and layered video projections. Audience members are immersed in the experience—from stars on the ceiling to snow falling to choir members and dancers moving throughout the auditorium.”

For Lori Valentine, owner of Fort Thomas Coffee and Fort Thomas resident, the show is much more personal.  Valentine’s children, Kit (age 8, 2nd grade at Moyer) and Honor (13, 8th grade HMS) are performing in the show for their 3rd and 4th year, respectively.  Says Valentine, “the show itself is gorgeous, so professional and so creative. (…) The music is incredible; I feel so lucky that my kids have the chance to participate in something so positive and important that is centered around serving others at this time of year.”  Valentines child, Honor, goes on to say, “It’s really cool to see how Awaited is changing people’s lives and I love being a part of that.”

Bode and Chaney Russell

In addition to the Valentines, Chaney Russell, 3rd grader (8 years old) at Johnson is participating for her first year in the show.  Says Russell, “So many people come to Awaited and we just want to give them the best show possible.”  Older brother Bode Russell (12, 7th grade at HMS), adds, “I love being a part of Awaited because I get to be a part of something bigger than myself and help people know about Jesus.

Other performers from Fort Thomas include Libby Speiss (13), Belle Bryant (13, 7th grade HMS), Avery Cavacini (14, 8th grade HMS), Jackson Hopper (15, 10th grade HHS), Gracie Smith (12, 7th grade HMS), and Lucy (13), Ashton (11), and Mary Rose (10) Willis.
Fort Thomas crew came to support some cast members
Says Gracie Smith, “It is very special because I get to experience what it was really like to live in Bethlehem at that time.”  

Nicole and Shawn Hopper could not be prouder of their son Jackson who is in his first year in the production and plays a Warrior Angel Drummer.  Says Shawn Hopper, “the way the story is told from the perspective of the angels with all the effort that God and his army put into bringing us this Savior, the scene when baby Jesus is born… chokes me up every time.”  Nicole adds that she and her husband were initially concerned with Jackson committing to 30 shows but quickly realized that it was the right choice, saying, “God has blessed Jackson with one of the best experiences he has ever had.”  Jackson added that he loves that he is “serving God by telling His story.

In addition to seeing the show live, one can also stream a broadcast version at from December 21-23 or can watch the show on WCPO (channel 9) on Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. and again at 11:30pm or Christmas Day at 5 am and 11 am on WLWT (channel 5).
Libby Speiss
In closing, Libby Speiss, in her first year of Awaited, says, “I love Awaited because you get to do something you love like acting, singing, dancing, and performing for an audience while worshiping God and bringing others to Christ.” And for these Fort Thomas families, introducing Christ to the world is the message of the Christmas season.

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