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First Stage presents ‘A Christmas Story’

November 30, 2018

It’s beginning to look and sound like Christmas as area theater companies put their spins and twists on some holiday classics.

Here’s a look at some incoming theatrical productions this weekend and next:

First Stage offers local

audiences ‘A Major Award’

Do you sit and watch the endless holiday marathon of Jean Shepherd’s laugh-out-loud classic, “A Christmas Story,” on TV each year? Well, have we got the local musical for you.

Head up to Huntington High School’s auditorium this weekend as First Stage Theatre Company brings to life the classic holiday tale “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Huntington High School, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. Tickets are $12 and $10 for children age 12 and under. To reserve tickets, call 304-416-KIDS (304-416-5437).

The two-hour-long play is directed by Amy Browning, music directed by Christa Navy and produced by Jeanette Bailey. The cast of the play is made up of young performers grades 1-12 and a several adult actor/mentors from the Tri-State.

This musical is based on the movie classic that runs round-the-clock on television every Christmas. Set in the 1940s, the musical follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker (starring Christian Garnes) and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts - an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.

Although First Stage had dialed up the non-musical stage version of “A Christmas Story” twice before, director Amy Browning said the musical, with an action-packed book by Joseph Robinette, and with music and lyrics written by Pasek & Paul - who also wrote “La La Land,” and “The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman, has been an exhilerating adventure.

“It is the same story that people are used to and are familiar with - similar to the live version that was on television last year - and it has a lot of really fun and catchy songs,” Browning said. “It is very awesome music but difficult and challenging.”

Browning said one of the neat aspects of this production is that it called for a number of adult roles with some well-known regional actors on stage including Kenny Bass as Jean (the narrator), Michael Gore as the father, Jennifer Scott as the mom, Jane Modlin as the teacher and local attorney Ken Bannon as Santa Claus.

“That has been a really cool opportunity for the kids to work with some real professionals and to see that the adults make mistakes just like they do,” Browning said. “We have been really excited with the interactions between the kids and the adults and I can’t say enough about how well the family unit interacts together. Everybody does a lovely job.”

With some wild scenes like 11 leg lamps dancing when the dad gets his “Major Award,” and scenes from western fantasies to speakeasy scenes, Browning said it’s been nice to have some first rate choreography taught by professional - and former First Stage alum Maggie Saunders.

“This is the first time that Christa Navy has worked with us and the first time that Maggie has been back and we’ve been really excited to not only have the children gotten to learn in the same normal dynamics but have been getting to work with working professional,” Browning said.

Go online at https://www.facebook.com/First-Stage-Theatre-Company and www.firststagetheatre.org

“A Christmas Carol”

Although Marshall University Theatre is taking a year off from “A Christmas Carol,” you can still have a Dickens of a Christmas across the Big Sandy.

The historic Paramount Arts Center keeps the holiday spirit alive this weekend with a 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 presentation of the Nebraska Theater Caravan’s touring show, “A Christmas Carol.” Tickets are $25 to $55.

This celebrated Charles Jones adaptation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is rich with thrilling ensemble music, alive with color and movement and is created to tell this great and enduring tale in a manner that people of all ages will enjoy.

Woven throughout this classic tale are beautiful new arrangements and moving renditions of holiday songs such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Wassail Wassail,” “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” “Away in a Manger,” “Greensleeves,” “The Boar’s Head Carol” and many more.

Featuring a cast of 23 performers, live musicians, and Broadway-style scenery and costumes, audiences cherish this sumptuous holiday classic.

“Little Red Riding Hood”

Stop into Smith Music Hall, Hal Greer Blvd &, 3rd Ave, Huntington, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 when Marshall University’s opera program, Opera at Marshall, will present the children’s opera “Little Red Riding Hood.”

The performance is free and open to the public, the opera is appropriate for children ages 4 and older and lasts about 45 minutes.

“This Children’s Opera not only has classical artistic elements but also fun and tuneful melodies and texts for the audience of all ages,” said Alexander Lee, assistant professor of voice at Marshall and director of the opera. ”

‘Little Red Riding Hood’ will make you and your children appreciate and love this synthesis of music, stage and drama.” The event is sponsored by the Marshall University School of Music in the College of Arts and Media.

“Elf Jr.: The Musical”

The Children’s Theatre of Charleston continues over eight decades of successful productions with the whimsical, comical, musical presentation of “Elf Jr.: The Musical!”

Performances run at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 and Saturday, Dec. 8 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center Little Theater.

Debbie Haught directs more than 60 local actors in this production, with Jeff Haught as Musical Director.

The musical follows the storyline of the famous modern film starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Tickets are $12 or $10 for students. You can purchase tickets at the door (beginning one hour prior to show time) or you can order on-line at: http://www.ctoc.org.

“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”

The Alban Arts Center is delighted to bring to holiday audiences “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” by Barbara Robinson. A classic for over three decades “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” reinvigorates the standard Christmas pageant motif with the antics of the Herdman siblings, the worst kids in town.

The production runs at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15. There’s also Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 16 at the Alban Arts Center, 65 Olde Main Plaza,

St. Albans.

Directed by Adam Bryan, the production features the on-stage talents of Fiona Sullivan, Seth Vannoy, Isaac Arthur, Samantha Phalen, JD James, Aeson Stuck, JJ Peyton, Elliet Malcomb, Emma Fields, Linda O’Neil, Meagan Goode, Amanda Bowles, Candice Anderson, Caroline McLaury, Ayden Johnson, Gideon Ervin, Harmony Good, Molly Sullivan, Claire Kosky, Liberty Stepp, Daisy Hudson, Lily Rhodes, Stevie Jenkins, Keegan Hutchinson, Emma Turley, Karma Good, Amelia Chapman, Erica Turley, Riley Fleming, Eliyah Ervin, Allyson Gagnon, Kylie Anderson, Elijah Kiser, Bethany Bryan, Finlee Bryan.

Tickets are $15 and $10 for children/seniors and may be purchased online at www.albanartscenter.com or by calling 304-721-8896.

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