- Last Updated on 05:19 PM 11/14/13
- BY The Gazette-Virginian
Try and imagine a Christmas with no toys under the tree. Now imagine that you own the toy company that makes all of those wonderful toys. The latest production from Halifax County Little Theatre is loosely based on a real episode during World War I.
The all new musical from Ron Lytle takes the predicament and expands it into a story of American commerce, the power of the press, and a great romance, all with a musical backdrop that will have audiences still humming a tune as they exit the theatre.
Playing the slightly curmudgeonly A.C. Gilbert is James Abbott, who returns to the Little Theatre stage after a long absence. Many long-time patrons will remember Abbott’s masterful portrayal of Daddy Warbucks in the troupe’s “Annie.”
Whether speaking or singing, his voice fills the room with such power that he lifts the spirits of all who are privileged to hear him.
In his modest manner, Abbott simply says he is glad to have a chance to be back on stage. His mastery of the stage and his musical expertise lift the spirits and the performances of the entire cast. In addition to his desire to perform, Abbott says that the return to South Boston has brought him closer to family and friends whom he has not spent time with for the past few years. He lives in Danville and is pleased to be back to his hometown more. He also praises the hard work and talent of the entire cast.
Abbott says that he thinks it is very special to be involved with a premiere of a major new musical, saying, “The music is great, and I think that the audiences will be surprised how wonderful the singing in this show is. Everyone has worked so hard to make it special.” He also is pleased to be performing at The Prizery and marvels that a town the size of South Boston could have such a performance space.
In the show, Mr. Gilbert may be a little gruff, but he has a wife whose sweetness is enough to overcome the problems that gruffness creates. Filling the role is a first time performer, Victoria Palmer. Although she lacks play experience, she has a long history of singing, including church choirs and high school regional choruses. She currently serves as minister of music for Mount Pleasant CME Church.
Palmer has nothing but good things to say about her first big role on stage and working with Abbott.
She said, “Everyone here has been so nice, and they can really sing.” She is especially excited about the big final song and the full cast presentation. She added, “I just know that people will leave here singing.”
During the play, there are a lot of plot twists and difficulties to work through from battling the government to encouraging the love interests of the company secretary and the young newspaperman whom Mr. Gilbert would rather throw out of his factory.
The Gilberts also must make a home for their young niece, whose father is overseas fighting in the war, and it makes for a full evening of problems to solve. The show manages to do all that and give audiences a new musical experience they will not soon forget. Abbott and Palmer are working hard to make the experience as memorable as possible.
“The Man Who Saved Christmas” is a great holiday story, a romantic comedy, and toe-tapping musical. Make plans to attend and bring the whole family. The show opens at 7:30 on Nov. 15 and has additional performances at the same time on Nov. 16, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Two matinee shows are planned at 3 p.m. on Nov. 17 and 24.
Season tickets for the entire Little Theatre season or tickets for this show are available from The Prizery box office or by calling 572-8339. Anyone who would like a season brochure mailed to them may call 572-2139 to see the entire season off