Sevierville teacher is extra in Dolly movie
When "A Country Christmas Story" premieres on Lifetime Saturday evening, Marvin E. West won't be watching – even though he was cast as an extra in the movie, which features Dolly Parton and was filmed at Dollywood.
That's because he'll be working. "I'm in one of the shows at Dollywood," he said. "'O Holy Night.'"
An actor with 25 years of experience, West is a special-education teaching assistant at Sevierville Intermediate School. He also is the school's drama coach.
In "A Country Christmas Story," West is part of a crowd watching a singing competition in Dollywood's Dreamsong theater. He landed the job courtesy of his representation, Knoxville's Studio Model & Talent Agency.
"I heard about it on a Dolly fan site," he said. "Then I contacted my agent, and it went from there."
Filming took place in early September, the first week of school. "I had to miss some," he admitted.
"A Country Christmas Story" is about an Appalachian girl who pursues a country music career against her mother's wishes. It airs on Lifetime at 8 p.m. Saturday, and several other times in the days that follow.
West has done extra work on other major screen projects, including the films "42" and "The Three Stooges" – as well as "Joyful Noise," the gospel-themed musical that stars Parton and Queen Latifah. There is, West said, no connection between his appearances in two Parton films and his work at Dollywood.
He is in his 15th season at the theme park. "I guess they like me," he said.
West also acted in 2007's "Bell Witch," an independent film about the Adams, Tenn., poltergeist. His stage credits include Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" and both Daddy Warbucks and Franklin Roosevelt in "Annie."
At Sevierville Intermediate, West's drama program meets after school. He is directing the group's production of "A Christmas Carol," which is set for Dec. 16 and 17. He adapted this staging of the Dickens classic.
"Everything we do at school I've written or adapted," he said. "We can't afford to pay royalties."
Are his students interested in his screen appeareances? "They were real excited about 'The Three Stooges,'" he said.
As for his work on "A Country Christmas Story," "I don't think they're as excited as the teachers."