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Gwinnett community theaters present classic holiday tales

Special Photo: Cathy Seith. Susan, played by Natalia Brody, pulls Kris Kringle's beard in New Dawn Theater Company's production of "Miracle on 34th Street." Chuck Mason plays Kringle.

Special Photo: Cathy Seith. Susan, played by Natalia Brody, pulls Kris Kringle's beard in New Dawn Theater Company's production of "Miracle on 34th Street." Chuck Mason plays Kringle.

New Dawn Theater's messages this holiday season are simple, Sherry Ingbritsen said.

"To never lose faith, to always believe, not just in Santa Claus, but in Christmas itself and the meaning behind it," she said. "To always keep family top of your list and to never forget that even the oldest of adults need to feel like a child at Christmas once in a while."

The community theater group hopes those messages are conveyed on stage in the holiday production of "Miracle on 34th Street."

"We selected the show because it is a classic," said Ingbritsen, who directs the play. "It's a well-known Christmas show that is great for all ages and it's timeless. The moral of the story and the spirit that it portrays are still in place today."

"Miracle on 34th Street" follows a mother and her daughter disillusioned with the idea of the existence of a real Santa Claus. When Kris Kringle is asked to prove he is, indeed, the one and only, he is able to inspire a whole city to believe in the magic of the holiday season.

Another community theater in Gwinnett hopes to inspire audiences with a small twist on another classic holiday story.

New London Theatre has assembled a cast of children and teens for a "shrunken" version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." (Shows featuring a primarily adult cast are also presented.)

"It's supposed to be a lot funnier than the adult cast, because all the younger kids are wearing big clothes like they've just got shrunken," said 12-year-old Lee Collier Jr., who plays the lead role of Ebenezer Scrooge in his first show with New London. "The message would be to always love Christmas and always be nice, never grouchy and don't let the things from the past affect you now."

Joining Collier on stage in two roles is 9-year-old Marshall Vandenoever as Tiny Tim and Old Joe, a man who purchases some of Scrooge's possessions as revealed by the ghost of Christmas yet to come.

"He's got this really funny line," Vandenoever said of Joe, before adopting an accent and reciting the line. "Oh, I always give too much to the ladies. It's a weakness of mine and that's the way I ruin myself."

"Old Joe, he's pretty funny," Collier agreed. "I always hold back my laughter on stage. It's hard. It takes a lot of practice not to laugh at something."

But hopefully the audience won't hold back.

"I think they can expect to laugh a little because several of the cast are very young taking on the role of older people and the things that they say are really unusual so it's very enjoyable," said Lee Collier Sr. "It would be a lot different if you were going to see the adult version."