DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - A big, New York-style Christmas production in Denham Springs that was supposed to open last Saturday has been rescheduled, but some locals cast in the show, Candlelight Nights, say they won't be taking the stage.
It's marketed as the biggest show to hit Denham Springs, with performing artists like Tiffany and Jody Watley, among others. It's supposed to be a way to help brighten Christmas for people in Livingston Parish who may have had the blues since last year's historic flood.
It sounded like a grand opportunity for 15-year-old Kendall Claire Lamont of Prairieville, who has been performing since she was 4-years-old. But her mother and some others told 9News they recently wrote resignation letters to the show's producer, Chris Antie, after they say they showed up for rehearsals and never got paid. Cast member Amanda Burge says she, her husband, and their son attended ten rehearsals and never saw a dime.
"He [Antie] owns me $1,000. He owes my husband $700 and my son $500 dollars. That's $2,200 in all," Burge said.
According to the contracts signed by Antie, the participants would be paid a certain rate for each performance and rehearsal. The agreement said the payments would be made bi-weekly. It also lists performance dates beginning Saturday November 25 through December 22, 2017. But the show never opened. Burge says she knew something was wrong the weekend before when Antie suddenly starting canceling practices.
"He told us at rehearsal on Saturday that Sunday and Monday were canceled and that he would let us know about Tuesday, and then Tuesday came and went and not a word from him. He ignores all of my text messages, ignores my emails," Burge said.
Antie did not return our calls or respond to knocks on the door at the address listed on the performance agreement.
Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks, who is one of several sponsors of the event, says Antie did return his call either. "He told me, it [the show] has not been canceled, but because of some issues regarding money and things like that with the venue, they were going to host it at, it has now been moved or is in the process of being moved to a place off of Millerville in Baton Rouge," Ricks said.
Antie's attorney, Robert Harrison, followed up Monday afternoon with a statement confirming in part, "Due to production issues, the show has been rescheduled for December 10, 17, and 22." He added that ticket holders and sponsors can request a refund. As for cast members, he says they will be paid according to their contracts, which are currently being evaluated.
Harrison could not confirm the new venue for the show. Burge says the production that was supposed to lighten their moods has left her and her family in a dark place. "My son is not in a Christmas show, which he's been in one every year. Theater is his life. That's what he wants to do. He's out, and I'm left wondering where this Christmas money is supposed to come from that I was expecting," Burge said.
WAFB was one of the original in-kind sponsors of the show and agreed to give out tickets, but the station is no longer involved with the show.