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HCLT brings proof Santa does exist

South Boston News
The holiday classic “The Miracle on 34th Street, the Play” hits the stage in just one month, and these young people are hard at work filling roles as elves, shoppers, children, and holiday carolers. From left, first row,McKayla Moxcey, Luke McKinney, Leah Griffin, Emma McKinney, and Nathan Covington. Second row, Kynnedy Riley, Rilee Daniels, Paige Shelton, Jayda Younger, Halle Beadles, Caraline Spell, and Jared Smith. Not pictured are Mark Betts, Molly Nunn, and Ma’Kiya Palmer. The shows opens Nov. 16 for two weekends of Kris Kringle and holiday fun.
SoVaNow.com / October 19, 2017
By Greg Donner

It’s getting to be that special time of year when many people are experiencing doubts about what is so clearly real to all children below a certain age. For some reason, older children want more proof of the presence of a certain man dressed in a red suit, and some adults are so jaded that they ignore the very idea of the jolly old elf completely. Fortunately, Halifax County Little Theatre and director Kasey Renae Moore have the cure for doubters in their upcoming production of “Miracle on 34th Street, the Play.”

The play is based on the original novel by Valentine Davies and the classic motion picture. HCLT has been lucky to find a large cast of true believers in the Christmas Spirit that has no difficulty with understanding the magic of a man so special that he can visit children from around the world and deliver gifts and good cheer in one night.

At least 14 of the cast members are in Santa’s prime focus group, and a recent survey showed that not one of them has any doubts about his authenticity. Their belief in the legendary North Pole resident is helped by the fact that the old man himself has managed to find the time to be in the story that focuses on the very question of his existence.

Some members of the cast seem to have been on the stage continually for several years. Mark Betts and McKayla Moxcey come to the production having played in multiple Little Theatre shows, including for Mark “A Christmas Carol,” “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963,” and adding in McKayla, “Elf Jr.,” and “Jackie & Me.” Mark talks enthusiastically about his love of theatre, and other than school, it fills his time. He says, “I love theatre, and the worst part of a play is when it is over.” McKayla appears as multiple characters in this play and adds, “Theatre is the best thing ever! I think this is a beautiful show.”

Two young players return to the Prizery stage having also served in last year’s production of “Elf Jr,” Paige Shelton and Luke McKinney. They share one thing in common: their enjoyment of performing. Luke says he is involved because, “I love the story, and this is my fourth play.” He was also in HCLT’s “Shrek” and has been in some Prizery productions, too. Paige even has to speak Dutch in this production!

Filling out the young ensemble are a large group of first time performers of various ages. Leah Griffin and Nathan Covington are the youngest cast members and learning quickly how much work goes into making a show come to life. As second graders, Nathan at Scottsburg Elementary and Leah at Clarksville Elementary, they are balancing their schoolwork and activities with learning lines and creating characters on stage. Leah said, “I love how this story proves that children can make a difference and that Santa IS real!”

Other elementary school age actors are Kynnedy Riley, Ma’Kiya Palmer, Emma McKinney, and Caraline Spell. Kynnedy was in “Elf, Jr.” last year also, and Ma’Kiya has been in “Charlotte’s Web” and “Four Little Girls,” while Emma and Caraline are interested in finding out how it feels to be on stage. The girls have a variety of interests outside of school and the show, as they are involved in soccer, softball, dance, or gymnastics. Additionally, one of the best parts for several of them is that they get to make new friends.

Jared Smith, 11, attends Lincoln Elementary in Buckingham County, North Carolina, and joins the ensemble in his first HCLT production, but he has a long resume in theatre work in neighboring communities. He resides in Reidsville and travels nightly for rehearsals.

Filling out the group are older students Rilee Daniels, Molly Nunn, Jayda Younger and Halle Beadles. They play parts ranging from troublesome teenagers to adults in large group scenes. Rilee was in HCLT’s “A Christmas Carol” and “Elf, Jr,” and she and Molly were in the Prizery’s production of “Honk” last spring, but it the first Little Theatre production for Molly, Jayda, and Halle. Jayda said, “The best part of the show is being able to be a part of something the whole town can see.” Halle reminds folks, “Just because you don’t believe in something, doesn’t mean it’s not true.” All four girls are also making new friends and are role models for the younger children.

These young stars cover a wide range of ages and experiences on stage, but all have one goal in mind. They want to entertain audiences of all ages and help people to believe in the spirit of Christmas. After all, we all believed once. The world might be a little better place if we could recapture that feeling. Make plans now to attend this heartfelt play and start your holiday season off with a smile. Be sure to bring your own disbelievers. They might just leave with a fresh take on the truth of that jolly old elf.

Halifax County Little Theatre’s special holiday show is clearly meant for the whole family, visiting Thanksgiving company, and all ages.

The show opens Friday, Nov. 17, and runs for two weekends, ending on Sunday, Nov. 26. Evening shows are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students and are on sale at The Prizery at 434-572-8339 or http://www.prizery.com.

HCLT season brochures are also available for people to purchase tickets for the whole season at reduced prices. They can be found at the Prizery, the Visitor’s Center, and both public libraries.

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