Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus packs the house

2018 Yes Virginia TIASC Cast Photo

“Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was boldly and convincingly declared at the Three Hills Arts Academy (THAA). Unfortunately, there were only five shows so for sure there were some who didn’t get to take it in.

With a cast of 23 young people from the ages of eight to 15, and a supporting crew of eight others (youth and adults) and under the directorship of Tiffany Dietz, this was a production that exceeded expectations (for some) and we have come to have some very high expectations for anything that THAA produces.

The actors came from Acme, Linden, Three Hills, Trochu and the surrounding area and formed the Children’s Community Theatre.

Before the house lights went down or the curtain opened, patrons got a novel introduction to the setting and times when the “newsies” met them at the door shouting “Extra! Extra! Read all about it”, and selling the “New York Sun” (play program) for 25 cents. The children had already been active in their own contributing new toys to go toward the Christmas Food Hampers, and the newspaper sales were adding to that fund.

The play is an adaptation of the now famous story of how Virginia O’Hanlon, in wanting to know the “Truth” about whether or not Santa Claus was real, was encouraged by her father to write a letter to the New York Sun, because “If you see it in the Sun , it is so”.

Director Dietz said of the actors: “We have kids… in every different level of stage experience and everyone has made an effort to be a part of our little arts ‘family’!”

Inasmuch as Elias Brown as Francis Church, the newsman who penned the famous reply to Virginia, took the final bow as the ‘star’, I will comment on the fine performance he did. He kept “in character” at all times and that could be seen as a difficult challenge when he had to show several emotions and take several pratfalls, that brought forth the expected reactions from the audience.

The other “leading roles” where the older youth had to play either the adults or the “younger” children are likewise to be commended.

Here we have the following to be acknowledged:

Virginia O’Hanlon played by Desiree Schmidt; Mother O’Hanlon by Myla Wolfe; Father O’Hanlon by Ethan Thiessen; Samantha O’Hanlon by Jayda Fyten; Walter (the editor/boss) by Austin Roberts; and the Parker family with “Mother” by Kiara Pike, Mary-Lou by Alia Wiebe, Wendy by Rowan Smithson and Timmy by James Pike. Martha (soup kitchen attendant) was played by Claire Rector.

Several players, as “Homeless Children” and “Newsies (and Ushers) although without “speaking roles” contributed significantly just by their presence.

Director Tiffany was most successful in having all the actors very aware of positioning on stage, and the audience benefits because the actors do not turn their heads away from the audience when speaking to another character, nor do they look affected in doing so. Perhaps one of the clearest examples of that and the very clear diction that Tiffany exacted from her players was when the “Post Lady” Bonnie Carney made her entrance and interacted with Francis.

Other well managed parts of the staging was to have the Prologue and Epilogue and the speakers arranged in front of the curtain, and then the ‘park scene’ also attached to the curtain.

There was the “surprise” choreography to end the show and that too indicated some detailed practice to bring it to perfection.

None of the success would be so if it were not for the “back stage” crew and technicians and these were acknowledged as:

Stage Manager, Jonquil Thiessen; Student Stage Manager, Salem Stahl; Stage Hand, Emma Imes; Sound/Lights, Caleb Thiessen and Danny Imes; Costume Designer, Chelsea Pike; and Set Designers, Chrisie Rector and Cherie Laplante.