- Last Updated on 07:15 AM 10/25/13
- BY Becky Donner/Special to The Gazette
“Let’s go, people! We’ve only 60 days till Christmas, so let’s get a move on!” The opening lines of Ron Lytle’s ‘new old-fashioned’ holiday musical sound as if they are talking about those of us in the present time, but the time of this show is 1919, when America was involved in World War I.
Halifax County Little Theatre’s fall musical tells a wonderful tale of hardship and love, of hope and determination. In addition, Little Theatre is proud to be selected as the presenter of the Virginia premiere of this show.
Director Kristin Berry and Musical Director Cheri Blackwell have been hard at work themselves for the past two months with their cast of “incredible vocal talent,” according to Berry. “We’re so excited to put some new faces on stage, or faces audiences haven’t seen in a long time. And this show is just so perfect for the holiday season.”
The story is based loosely on some actual events during World War I, when the government tried to cancel toy production in favor of arms manufacturing. Obviously, there would have been a lot of disappointed boys and girls. Toy factory owner A.C. Gilbert is determined to find a way to lobby Washington in order to save his company as well as Christmas.
Add some precocious children, a newspaper reporter determined to find a story, a secretary wanting to protect her job and her emotions, a conniving office worker, and some Washingtonians and toy factory workers, and it all adds up to a musical comedy with just the right amount of romance, suspense, comedy and intrigue.
The show opens Nov. 15 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 30, at The Prizery. In addition to the cast of 20-some will be a live musical ensemble composed of local music students and adults. The music has been reorchestrated just this fall by the composer, and Little Theatre has received the music almost literally “hot off the press!”
Playing toy manufacturer A.C. Gilbert is James Abbott, known locally for the beautiful sound of his voice. Victoria Palmer, new to Little Theatre, will portray his wife, Mary. They are taking care of their niece, Ellen, while her father is off at war. Gracie Berneche has been chosen to portray Ellen, and she and her friends play a pivotal role in exposing who is the bad guy and who is the good guy.
Creating the children’s roles are Easton Berry, Victoria Montes-Bradley, Jordan Carr, Mary McLaughlin and Katherine White. Secretary to Mr. Gilbert is Tasha Dyer, and the determined reporter is played by her real-life husband, Scott. The sparks will fly between those two characters, compounded by the jealous office worker, portrayed by Jeremy Duffer.
Costume guru Ginny Bogart has been researching clothing styles of the war period, choreographer Pat Crew has been teaching dance steps to the ensemble, and Marshall Slayton and his crew of hard working men and women are already building and painting set pieces. Producer Andy Rice is handling all the technicalities of the show, and a whole lot of other people are coming together to make the show a success.
Tickets are already on sale at The Prizery (572-8339), and season brochures are also available there and at the local libraries for Little Theatre’s entire season.
For more information about the season or to request a brochure be mailed, contact Becky Donner at 572-2139.
But especially, make plans to see “The Man Who Saved Christmas.” It is sure to become a new holiday classic.