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'Reflections of Apollo' brings Christmas cheer to Cleveland Saturday

By Hugh Fisher

For the Salisbury Post

CLEVELAND — The latest in a series of variety shows at The Building on Baker Mill Road happens tomorrow night when “Reflections of Apollo” returns for an evening of holiday music, dancing, comedy and good cheer.

Organizers say they’re hoping for a little Christmas magic to keep the talent show growing — and give their friends and neighbors more of the family entertainment they say the community needs.

“We focus on this as a community outreach, to bring people in,” said Sandra Steele, one of the show’s organizers. “There’s really not a lot to do for the young people here.”

She and Tommy Cuthbertson, who owns a welding and metalworking business in Cleveland, put together the first local talent show last fall.

Tickets are $8, but the organizers say that helps them cover the cost of entertainers.

This month’s show features holiday music and brings back two performers who created a buzz at last month’s performance.

Saturday night’s headliner is religious comedian Reverend Clee, a native of Winston-Salem who was a major draw in the November show.

“He does gospel comedy, with pretty much a church background, spiritual but funny,” Steele said. “But it’s all clean.”

The same goes for all other acts. “There’s no profanity allowed in the show. It’s a family environment,” Steele said.

Also back for another performance is local dancer Bobby Mitchell Hampton Jr., who showed off his moves for the first time ever in November.

“He was phenomenal,” Steele said. “At the last show people were so amazed they couldn’t sit down.”

The show’s emcee is Charles “Nard” Cornelius of Salisbury, an amateur comedian who Steele called “Salisbury’s best-kept secret.”

There will be a variety of other talents performing, including musicians, singers and poets, Steele said.

The previous three shows have been very well-received. “We had a hundred people at first, and it’s been growing tremendously,” she said. “People really enjoy the show.”

She and Tommy Cuthbertson said the show was doing what it was intended to do: provide an outlet for creativity and a place to go for fun in Cleveland.

“Everybody was sitting around with nothing to do, with no entertainment,” Steele said. “Young people had no place to go and were getting into all kinds of things.”

She talked with Cuthbertson, who owns a large hall that’s come to be known as The Building. Steele said Cuthbertson donated use of The Building for the shows and has worked hard to organize the event.

“He was the one who made this happen,” Steele said. “He’s one of the type of people who works in the background. A lot of people in the city know him, but he’s one of the humble people.”

Steele and Cuthbertson knew each other from their days in the West Rowan High School marching band.

And music has remained a part of their lives. Steele is choir director at Galilean Deliverance Church in Charlotte, and Cuthbertson is part of Messengers for Christ, a band which includes his son, Desmond, and other family members. Desmond is also director of the house band that performs at “Reflections of Apollo.”

Steele said they wanted to find more people with talent in the community — singers, poets, dancers, musicians and more. They were inspired, Steele said, by the number of people from North Carolina who had found fame on “American Idol.”

“The talent in the Rowan County area is just as good. But nobody is having any event where people can come out and see it,” Steele said. “So I thought, ‘Let’s have a talent show, call it Reflections of Apollo and see how it goes.’ ”

They put on the first show in September and left people wanting more.

“It turned out to be something positive,” Steele said. “People have said the show is good, really good.”

Cuthbertson said the November’s show drew spectators from Winston-Salem, Gastonia and Charlotte.

The shows have inspired local people to show off their talents. Cuthbertson said he auditioned several more entertainers this week, with good results.

Steele doesn’t want to stop with a talent show: She said she’d love to find sponsors for young people who want to develop their singing and dancing talent through education and training.

“But we want to leave the show open for everybody to see what kind of talent we have,” she said. “I would invite people to take the opportunity to participate in the show.

“We hope this’ll put Cleveland on the map.”

Cuthbertson said he hopes more people will take an interest in community events like the Apollo, “something other than drinking and fighting and fussing,” he said.

This month, Steele said the hall is decorated for Christmas with lights and wreaths, and Christmas music will be part of the evening’s entertainment.

Steele and Cuthbertson have another treat for their guests: They’ve purchased some small gifts to give out as door prizes for some lucky audience members.

“I just like sharing and helping people,” Cuthbertson said. “I want folks to have a place to go for fellowship in a good family atmosphere, where people can come and share their talent, be entertained and have fun, all at the same time.”

Want to Go?

“Reflections of Apollo” will be held at The Building on Baker Mill Road in Cleveland Saturday night. Doors open at 7 p.m. Show begins at 7:30. Tickets: $8 at the door.

Directions: Take U.S. 70 to the Cleveland Fire Department; turn right onto School Road. At the stop sign, turn right on Main Street. Cross the railroad tracks, then turn left onto Church Street. After about one-half mile, turn left onto Third Creek Road. Remain on this road for about two miles; the road becomes Baker Mill Road. The Building will be on the left.

For more information, call Cuthbertson at 704-640-1287.

Contact Hugh Fisher at 704-797-4245 or hfisher@salisburypost.com.

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