For weeks, Main Street Theatre’s Special Children’s Workshop students have been learning the fundamentals of stage acting and preparing two plays to present to the public. Tickets are now on sale for back-to-back productions of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “Becoming Claus,” which debut next week.
“Right now, we are right in the middle of our annual children's summer workshop and our theme this year is ‘Christmas in July,’” said Co-Director Leah Conner.
Co-directors David Woody and Conner have orchestrated the camp for years. The workshop lasts five weeks and is comprised of children from 7 to 17 years old.
“We teach the kids all the basics of theater. We focus on stage direction, history, set design, costuming, make-up and a little bit of lighting,” said Conner.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” is about a group of small town bullies who have never heard the story of Christmas. After a series of events, the bullies star in a church play on the subject. Although they are difficult to control at first, the bullies find out the true meaning of Christmas.
“A lot of people are familiar with this production. It came out in the early 80s and many people have read the book. I actually had to read the book in the school,” said Conner. “It’s about the Christmas story and church musical that is put on by children. This story has a twist with the town bullies.”
The second play of the evening is an original play entitled, “Becoming Claus.” Workshop veteran students who have participated for years in the summer program decided to write and direct their own production.
“‘Becoming Claus’ follows the life of a little girl from a very young child to an adult,” said Conner.
As the young girl reaches the age where most people stop believing in Santa, she takes a stand. Telling her friends that she actually saw Santa, she is ridiculed.
“As time goes on, she becomes a bit of a skeptic. By the end, this play has a very uplifting, serious tone. The story has a redemptive quality,” said Conner. “The kids have really done a good job with the play. It’s really not very long but it is deep. Some of the kids have been crying while they are practicing. It has a punch.”
Conner commented that as the camp comes to a close, she is looking forward to opening night next Thursday.
“My favorite part of the camp is when it all comes together. Everyone is so proud of themselves because some of them don’t really get it until the show happens,” said Conner. “They realize how much they have done and why it was all worth it. When they are on stage and people are watching them, their faces light up.”
The Christmas in July themed double production is open to the community and runs July 16 through 26. Shows begin at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.mainsttheatre.com.