By Gail McCarthy
---- — Magic and local history are new to this year’s production of “Holiday Delights,” which runs tonight through Sunday at Gloucester Stage Company.
The show features a cast of 40 ranging in age from 6 to 16, all students in the Gloucester Stage Youth Acting Workshops. This family holiday event marks the fourth time in Gloucester Stage history that a production has featured an entire cast of student actors, all from Cape Ann.
New elements in the 2012 production include a boys quartet performing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” twists on classic holiday stories and an original story set in turn-of-the-century Gloucester, featuring the young girl’s grandmother as a young girl herself growing up on the Fort in an Irish-Italian fishing family.
“On her journey she learns about the special traditions of other families and comes to realize the importance of her own family traditions,” said Heidi Dallin, who conceived and directed the production. “This festive evening of stories, songs, magic and dance tells the story of her journey to discover what is really important during the holidays.”
The show has more than 100 costume changes for the actors, many of whom play multiple roles.
As the story unfolds on Christmas Eve, Mrs. Claus takes the young girl to visit Scrooge’s sister Fan and a young Scrooge, the Cratchit Family and the Fezziwig family from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” as well as the March sisters from Louisa Mae Alcott’s “Little Women.” The girl visits a contemporary family celebrating Hanukkah and the animals of the forest in Henry Van Dyke’s “The Very Best Kind of Christmas Tree.”
The director thanked Susan Pollack, author of the “Gloucester Fishermen Wives’ Cookbook,” Gloucester native Maria (Brancaleone) Theriault, and the Sawyer Free Library for their help with the scene related to Gloucester’s local history.
“I wanted to offer the cast a glimpse of Gloucester’s past and enrich their experience in the production,” said Dallin.
“Holiday Delights” features such classic holiday music as “Deck The Halls,” “O, Christmas Tree” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” The show closes with an audience sing-a-long and a visit from Santa Claus.
Gloucester High sophomore 16-year-old Jaqi McCarthy plays Mrs. Claus. McCarthy has been a student of Gloucester Stage Youth Acting Workshops since age 6.
Eastern Point Day School student Elaina Turner, 11, plays the young girl who wants to skip Christmas. Turner first appeared in Holiday Delights in 2007 and was the youngest member of the cast when she played an elf and a skunk. She has been in the show every year and this year she is the lead.
The cast is Julia Amero, Lily Armstrong, Jack Bergin, Willa Brosnihan, Chloe de Gaspe Beaubien, Ella de Gaspe Beaubien, TS Burnham, Talia Dewolfe, Aidan Donald, Ruby Evelyn Featherstone, Henry Hardy, Lila Hawks, Olivia Heasley, Yishai Howe, Anita Magee, Gabriel Magee, Zachary Magee, Ewan McCarthy, Madison McCarthy, Jaqi McCarthy, Hope Miller, Belle Muller, Jessyca Muniz, Sophia Mustone, Lila Olson, Olivia Osterman, Alex Polizzi, Annabelle Rogers, Sierra Rudolph, Christopher Siems, Autumn Silva, April Smith, Haley Sullivan, Colby Taormina, Rowan Trainor, Elaina Turner, Mark Turner, Brianna Ward and Sara Wheeler.
The production includes a student production staff: Gloucester High’s Jordan Westling serves as assistant stage manager. Production assistants are James Turner of St. John’s Prep, Peter Periera of Gloucester High, Margaret Adams of Manchester Essex Regional High School, Emma Donald of Essex Agricultural and Technical High School, and former student Daria Whittaker of Rockport.
In addition to Dallin, the artistic staff includes music direction by Helen Greene, choreography by Carol Burnham, set and property design by Jamie Wilkinson, set painting design by Gloucester artist Camilla MacFadyen, costume design by Lara Jardullo, magic coaching by Evan Northrup, production stage management by Denise Gallo and lighting design by Brendan Marr.
Performances are tonight through Sunday at Gloucester Stage at 267 East Main St. in Gloucester. Performances are 7 p.m. tonight, tomorrow and Saturday; and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for senior citizens, $8 for students and $6 for children under 12. For tickets and information, call 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.com.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or email@example.com.
If you go What: "Holiday Delights," a family show. Where: Gloucester Stage at 267 East Main St. in Gloucester. When: Performances are 7 p.m. tonight, Friday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 15; and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16. How much: $15 for adults; $12 for senior citizens, $8 for students and $6 for children under 12. For tickets and information, call 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.com.