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‘Man Who Saved Christmas’ opens Friday at The Prizery

South Boston News
Practice, Practice, Practice — These local children are working hard to be ready for the opening night of HCLT’s upcoming production of ‘The Man Who Saved Christmas.’ From left: Easton Berry, Katherine White, Jordan Carr, Victoria Montes-Bradley, Mary McLaughlin, and Gracie Berneche. Opening night is Nov. 15, with additional shows on Nov. 16, 22, 23, 29, and 30 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 17 and 24 at 3 p.m. For tickets please call The Prizery at 572-8339 or visit http://www.hclt.org.
SoVaNow.com / November 11, 2013
We all hope for our children to find something they love to do which will also help them develop confidence, poise, responsibility, and leadership. We introduce them to lots of sports and activities, hoping to find one which will put that sparkle in their eyes and make them want to work hard. We want them to learn the importance of making a commitment and sticking to it, the responsibilities and rewards of being a part of a team, and the great joy which comes from accomplishing something big. For many children in our community, participation in theater is just the right venue for all this growing up to take place.

Halifax County Little Theatre’s season opener, The Man Who Saved Christmas, will take to the stage on November 15, but the cast and crew have been working together in rehearsal for about eight weeks. This cast includes many young actors who have already developed a passion for theatre. Gracie Berneche, Easton Berry, Victoria Montes-Bradley, Mary McLaughlin, Katherine White, and Jordan Carr are excitedly learning lines, staging, choreography, and music, and giving up their spare time to practice, practice, practice for this upcoming show. Actually, in theatre it’s called rehearsal, not practice, but they are loving every minute of it.

Gracie Berneche, a veteran at the age of 11 (who plays a precocious little girl whose only dream for Christmas is that her father will come home from the war) puts it this way, “It’s really not a commitment if you love doing it.” She is involved in theatre, dance lessons, voice lessons, Band, and SCA, and she also has homework, of course. “I usually get my homework done at school when I have extra time during class,” she explains.

With rehearsals 3 or sometimes 4 nights per week, things can get hectic. “Sometimes dance gets cut short,” Gracie admits, but “I seriously love the spotlight. I’m not a vain person, but I love to create another character and pour my heart into portraying her. It’s thrilling to me.” Gracie has had many opportunities to perform on stage, including the title role in the Prizery production of Annie several years ago. She embraces the hard work and teamwork involved, and says that “My mama is my biggest supporter. She’s always there for me and never gives up.”

Mary McLaughlin, who is part of an ensemble of kids in this production, is in sixth grade, and has been involved in theatre long enough to realize that the hard work comes with many benefits. Her favorite theatre experience so far has been “A Christmas Carol” because it was a really big production with great music and dancing.” She especially likes “being with friends, meeting new people, dancing, and working hard to put on a great show.” “Costumes are fun,” she continues, “so is being in different eras and places.”

Mary has learned that “I have to be smart about my time.” She realizes that sometimes she has to give up free time with friends to be in plays. She has ACE practice four afternoons per week, as well as voice and trumpet practice, in addition to play rehearsal. She’s glad she doesn’t have much homework right now, and admits that she has sometimes had to resort to doing homework in the car, and has learned to focus so that she can complete assignments very quickly.

Mary is especially appreciative of fellow actor Gracie Berneche for her support. According to Mary, “There are many people who support me, but Gracie Berneche, even on days when my voice isn’t great and my mind is going crazy, helps me to do well by saying encouraging things.” Both Mary and Gracie have been inspired by young professional actors they worked alongside during The Prizery’s Summer Theatre, most notably Katie Finan, who played games with the younger cast members, gave them pointers, and encouraged them all to pursue their dreams no matter what.

Easton Berry, another member of the ensemble of children in this production, has already learned how to manage his time at the very tender age of 9. “I’m not playing sports this fall so I can do this show,” he explains. “I do my homework before practice.” He loved being in the spotlight as Jeremy Jacob in last spring’s HCLT production of How I Became a Pirate, his first show for Little Theatre. “My sister Micaela encouraged me to try out acting last year” he says. “She pushed me to sing and act. Then I started to like it.”

Easton’s family shares this love of theatre. His mother, Kristin, is directing The Man Who Saved Christmas, his father and sister Micaela are part of the orchestra, his sister Jaina has had parts in several plays, and little brother Tyler, who’s 5, is anxiously awaiting his turn to be in a play. Easton says that his mama is his biggest supporter, and that she “gets me going by having fun with me while we work on lines.”

Victoria Montes-Bradley, another of this group who has caught the theatre bug, puts it this way. “Acting and singing is all I want to do. I love being on stage, and I love to sing and act.” She credits her mom as being her biggest supporter, and also “her biggest fan”, but says that she gets a lot of support from audiences who tell her how much they enjoy watching her. Victoria first discovered the joy of being on stage when she was just 4 years old, “when I didn’t know how to read yet”, and Mr. Chris Jones cast her in her first role in a play. “I had to learn a lot from all the other cast members,” she says, but adds, “I was born to act. I love being on stage!”

Jordan Carr, 11, also a member of the children’s ensemble, puts it quite simply, “I do it for fun!” She realizes that she has to give up her time to rehearse, learn lines, and perform, but she enjoys it so much that it doesn’t seem like such a big sacrifice. As she explains, “really, theater is more for pleasure. For instance, there are lots of fun scenes in The Man Who Saved Christmas. I especially like it when we all run around making faces at Mr. Dixon.” Jordan has high praise for director Kristin Berry. “She works very hard and has a great attitude; she’s always fun to be around.”

The excitement these young people feel about being on stage is contagious. Their boundless energy and bright smiles are evidence of the passion they feel for what they are doing. They may not even realize that they are learning teamwork, poise, and how to speak effectively in front of people, but they do know that they are having fun!

The Man Who Saved Christmas opens November 15, and runs through Dec 1. Come and join the fun as this family oriented, heartwarming story comes to life on stage. Show dates are Nov 15, 16, 22. 23. 29, and 30 at 7:30, and Nov 17 and 24 at 3:00. Tickets are available at hclt.org, or by calling 572-8339.

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