Children at the Portsmouth Little Theatre are putting the finishing touches on their performance of Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, which premieres Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.
The show is bound to put its audience in the Christmas Spirit.
Based upon the teleplay by Val de Crowl and Andrew J. Fenady, the story is based upon true events.
In 1897, eight-year old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the response written by Frank Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies and various play/radio adaptations. The story has become a beloved part of Christmas tradition for many.
“There was a little cartoon of the story that I watched as a kid,” said Director Guinevere Mercer. “What he basically told her was that, of course there is a Santa Claus, he exists as surely as our love for each other does. That’s heart of it, finding faith in our humanity and our kindnesses to one another. It’s especially poignant with the young children doing the show.”
Since the show is based upon a radio play, the staging makes for a unique set-up and interactive experience for both the performers and the audience.
“The children are actually playing voice actors from the 1940’s who are putting on a radio production of the story,” explained Mercer. “So the voice-actors will be at their podiums doing the lines and behind them on stage we have a sound booth. The kids playing the sound engineers will be doing live sound effects. We have a carriage wheel one kid rolls across the sound board, one uses some coconuts to make horse hoof clopping noises. The audience will get to watch how those effects are made and it also gave the kids an opportunity to learn about radio and the role that it played back in the day before the internet, TV, smart phones and all of that.”
The show features children as young as age five up to age fourteen, but Mercer said that cooperation and participation have not been a problem, despite having only five weeks to practice.
“We understood that by doing Jekyll and Hyde in the fall, it would take a lot of time. We needed to have it around Halloween, and we discussed at our meeting last year ‘Okay well that gives us limited time for Christmas,’ we had to come up with something that could be put together quickly,” said Mercer. “I’m very lucky because I’ve actually worked with kids in my professional life for about a decade. I volunteered to direct because I love working with kids, they’re attentive, they’re eager and they want to be there. They’re also used to studying and they take direction well. This has actually been one of the smoothest productions that I’ve had any role in. I was nervous about the Thanksgiving break, but they came back in ready to roll. Some of them had even come in for extra practices. They’re very ready and I think it’s going to be a very good production.”
Yes Virginia There is a Santa Claus is rated ‘G’ and is friendly for all audiences.
Showtimes are Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 9-10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased by visiting www.pltlive.com or at the door one hour prior to showtime.
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