Archbold Community Theatre has hit a home run with its production of “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.”
Nothing about the play, from the sets to the lighting to the acting, can be faulted. It’s hard to see how professional companies could have done better, especially considering ACT’s reasonable ticket price.
The play is built around the story of Virginia, who, at the age of eight, in 1897, wrote a letter to The New York Sun newspaper, asking if there was a Santa Claus.
Yes, the newspaper said, just as love, generosity, and devotion exist.
The story of Virginia’s letter has been an American Christmastime favorite for decades.
The play opens with Virginia’s friends, Missy and Charly, telling young Virginia that Santa does not exist.
Lydia Babcock, Napoleon, plays Virginia, while two castmates from Archbold, Kate Nofziger and MacKenna Whitacre, play Charly and Missy.
The three, all close friends, do a wonderful job with their roles. Everything, from facial expressions to delivery of lines, was perfect. Each member of the trio deserves special kudos for their performances.
Virginia’s parents, portrayed by David Stuckey and Jan Delaney, also are excellent, as they fumble about trying to find the “right” way to tell Virginia the truth.
Stuckey is particularly interesting as his young doctor character gets riled up and carried away, and tries to hide his pipe smoking.
Donna Kinsman, Missy’s mother, hits just the right tone as a mother angry with her daughter and apologetic to Virginia’s parents. It’s just the tone you’d expect to hear in that situation, whether the setting is 1897 or 2011.
Randy Rohrs, Ridgeville Corners, serves double duty as both the narrator and a character in the show, as he argues with the writer of the famous editorial, Francis P. Church, portrayed by Ryan Mooney, Continental. He’s great in the role.
John Taquino, Archbold, has a limited role as Lige, the coal delivery man, but he handles it well, as he comforts Virginia and tells of his own dealings with Santa.
Adrienne Schmucker, a Pettisville High School senior, plays Virginia’s teacher, Mrs. Birch. She does well as a turn-of-the-century schoolteacher, snapping her ruler as she walks about.
ACT has been praised for its sets before, and “Yes, Virginia” is no exception. Excellent use of lighting can turn the stage from Virginia’s home to two locations in the New York Sun office.
At one point, with careful use of lights, ACT divides the small Giffey Hall stage into three separate locations.
In the past, ACT has struggled with sound, but it’s not a problem for “Yes, Virginia.” All of the actors, children included, can be clearly heard.
In all, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” is great Christmas season entertainment.
There are three more chances to see the play: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9-10, at 8 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 2:30 pm.–David Pugh