As the nonsinging member of the Sanders family, big sister June, played by Tamara Hubbard, rounds out the family's performance with sign language interpretation. As the Rev. Mervin Oglethorpe explains to his congregation: "The Lord didn't bless Miss June with a voice like her kin folks, but if we ever do get a deaf member, well, he's not gonna miss a thing ..."
While other cast members practiced lyrics and harmonies, Hubbard rehearsed sign language. "I picked up the signs quickly," she says. "What was difficult for me was the grammar. ... In sign language, the adjective comes after the noun instead of before. The most difficult thing was hearing the English words from a song, but not being able to sign along to the words. ... I just had to memorize the order of the signs."
June also plays percussion for the family ensemble, using instruments both conventional and otherwise: tambourine, maracas, a wooden "tone block," jingle bells, spoons, a sewing basket full of marbles, a bottle of water and an assortment of empty glasses. Music director Paul Deiss searched high and low to find glasses that made the right pitch. Explains Hubbard: "He went around to antique shops with a wooden spoon, banging on different
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