New Christmas play for KVTA

November 26, 2018

There are so many Christmas traditions, both local and national, that it might seem hard to come up with something new.

But the Kankakee Valley Theatre Association has done just that — coming up with a completely new holiday show.

“Moments of Christmas’’ is a series of seven holiday scenes, some of which might be completely unexpected by the ordinary viewer. The show will take place Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 2, on the grounds of the Kankakee County Museum, 801 S. Eighth Ave., Kankakee.

The show runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday night, Dec. 1; and 5-7:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. This basically is a tour, with groups leaving every 15 minutes. The $10 tickets must be purchased in advance at the Kankakee Valley Theatre Association website, kvta.org.

Early purchases are encouraged. Last year’s show, “An Evening with Scrooge: A Retelling,” used much the same type of organization, a series of scenes where patrons walked from one venue to the next. It sold out. Additional times were added.

But despite last year’s success, Director Rozy Labriola and KVTA President Robin Tober-Betourne wanted to come up with a new show.

“We wanted to do something original,” Labriola says.

They turned to Tober Corrigan, who wrote last year’s “Scrooge” production. He put together the seven original mini-plays. The plays require a cast of 51 people. Another 10 people are behind the scenes with sets, box office and costumes, Labriola says. Lauren Rybolt is the assistant director. Becky Lowery is the vocal director. Rhonda Stenzinger is the costumer for the show.

The seven scenes, which take place inside the museum, are:

• “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” That was the title of an 1897 editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church in the New York Sun. Church was answering a letter by 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. O’Hanlon would live until 1971. Children attending the play can put their letters to Santa in a special mailbox in this vignette.

• “The Christmas Truce of World War I.” In 1914, the first year of World War I, a truce broke out between the British and the Germans. Soldiers came out of the trenches, exchanged food and gifts and sang carols. During the vignette, Alfred Smith, of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, will teach children how to salute.

• “The Evolution of the Christmas Tree.” Two Christmas tree sellers will tell their stories. There is a German Christmas tree merchant from 400 years ago and an American merchant from the 20th Century. One lucky child from each group will be chosen to hang a star on a Christmas tree.

• “The Publication of A Christmas Carol.” Charles Dickens was already a well-known writer when his “A Christmas Carol” was published in 1843. It has never been out of print since. In this vignette, Edward Chapman and Catherine Dickens tell the story of the tale’s publication. Dickens will hand out a special gift to each child in the audience.

• “The Nativity.” The Three Wise Men tell the story. Children are welcome to bring a non-perishable food item for a local food pantry or an unwrapped toy to be donated to a needy family.

• “Christmas Football.” Mike Ditka tells the story of the 1971 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. Ditka was a Cowboy then. The game was the first NFL playoff game played on Christmas. The Cowboys won. The vignette includes cookies from Mrs. Ditka.

• “The Polar Express.” The conductor and Mrs. Claus read the 1985 classic from Chris Van Allsburg that was later turned into the 2004 animated motion picture with Tom Hanks. The first 330 guests will receive a special gift at the end of this final vignette.

The audience needs to show up 15 minutes before their appointed time. Check-in is inside the Civic Auditorium, where there will be a USO Tour and hot chocolate and mulled wine for sale.

Due to space limitations please do not bring strollers.

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