Diners, Disappointments, and Divine Joy
A reminder of God’s sovereignty and memories from a family icon proved Jeremy Chandler’s inspiration for the 2016 Christmas production at Triad Baptist Church.
The musical, “Joy Comes in the Morning,” opens Friday, Dec. 2, in the Triad Worship Center and continues 7 p.m. nightly through Sunday, Dec. 4.
Set in the fictional Derby Diner on a snowy Christmas Eve, the show features holiday classics, traditional Christmas music and original songs performed by the Triad Baptist Church Choir, Triad Worship Band and soloists to help weave a tale of stranded and snowed-in strangers who discover the source of true joy.
“This past winter, when the weather was bleak, cold, and rainy and I was feeling a bit down as we all get from time to time, a friend gave me a plaque that read, ‘Joy Comes in the Morning, ” said Chandler, Triad’s creative communications director.
“It reminded me how God is sovereign and all things work together for His pleasure and His glory. We just have to be patient.”
Soon, Chandler had his play title, theme, and began to write. “Pastor Rob (Decker) often says that with every blessing comes a burden,” he said. “The inspiration for this play was just that, embracing the burdens and basking in the joy of the blessings.”
Although the play’s action is fictional, Chandler tapped a family icon for the setting — a diner much like the actual Kitchen System Diner his grandparents Louise and Shorty Kitchen worked at for about three years and once owned and ran for five more in Louisville, Kentucky.
In Chandler’s play, the diner is called the “Derby Diner,” in homage to those roots, and the fictional owners are named Big Shorty and Lou after his grandparents.
“I’ve always loved to hear the stories that Memmaw would tell about the diner she and my grandpa owned in downtown Louisville,” he said. “Though the setting of this play is timeless, it does pay tribute to the banter of new friends hanging out amidst coffee, hotcakes, and the discovery of joy through new ventures!”
Set designer Renee Caudle and Nehemiah’s Few ministry leader Harold Simcox used an actual photo Chandler supplied of the Kitchen System Diner to build the diner set featured in ‘Joy Comes in the Morning.’
“Renee did an excellent job of recreating the Kitchen System Diner from the photo,” Chandler said, “and Harold did an excellent job in construction. Renee is very detail-oriented and worked hard to create a ‘classy and timeless’ diner for our audience to enjoy.”