Newnan Theatre Company is opening the 2012 Christmas season with two charming Christmas plays for children and an adult parody of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
The double feature children's show includes "Madeline's Christmas," adapted from the delightful children's story by Ludwig Bemelmans, and "A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail," based on the stories by A.A. Milne with the script, music and lyrics by James W. Rodgers.
For adults who need an antidote to holiday sentimentality, Jeff Allen is directing "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge," by Christopher Durang.
The two-act children's show opens on the Main Stage Friday evening December 7 and runs through the next two weekends, with both morning and afternoon shows each Saturday. "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" plays in the Black Box Theater at 8 pm on Thursdays, 10:30 pm Fridays, and 8 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Before each Saturday children's show (December 8 and 15), starting at 9:15 am, the Big Man with the white beard in the red suit will join Madeline, Winnie-the-Pooh and some of their best friends for a special Christmas tea with songs, games, holiday goodies, and pictures with Santa, Madeline, Pooh, and other characters. Tea with Santa is $15.00, or for $25.00 you can enjoy the tea AND see the 11:00 am show on the same day.
Laura Pratesi, directing "Madeline's Christmas," is well known for her starring roles in NTC productions such as "Cinderella," "Epic Proportions" and "And Then There Were None."
"This is my directorial debut," said Pratesi. "I've done lots of other things at the theatre: stage managing, lights, etc., but this is the first time I've been in charge. I feel the weight of the responsibility! I'm very grateful that our Artistic Director Paul Conroy felt I was up to the task."
"Madeline's Christmas" takes place in an old house in Paris where twelve little girls attend boarding school. The girls want to go home for Christmas, but they've all caught the flu because they forgot to wear their scarves, which they'd washed, all except for Madeline. She forgot to wash her scarf – it was dirty but she wore it anyway – and consequently didn't get sick.
"Madeline is full of gumption and bravery. She's the smallest of the twelve little girls, but she becomes the leader of the pack. She steps up and takes care of everybody," said Pratesi.
"There's a magical surprise at the end that gives them a way to fulfill their Christmas wishes. You'll have to see the show to find out what it is," Pratesi added.
The title role of Madeline has been cast with two local actresses. Megan Jackson and Molly McIntyre play the role in different performances, alternating in every other show.
"I have a really amazing cast of girls. They are so talented – any one of them could have been Madeline," said Pratesi. "They have a wide range of experience – one of was a character in 'The Hunger Games.' Several have worked with professional theatres in the area, such as the Fox. People came from all over."
"The book never goes into detail about the personalities of the other little girls, but the performers have done their research and found a personality for each child. So you don't just see 'twelve little girls in two straight lines.' You see individuals who just happen to be at this boarding school and have become friends growing up together," added Pratesi.
Dave Dorrell, NTC's managing director, is playing Harsha the rug merchant and magician, Allison Rohan, who was in "Seussical," has the role of Miss Clavell, and Melinda Copeland is playing Mrs. Murphy, the school cook.
Robbie Kirkland is the musical director. He leads the NITWITS and has starred in several NTC productions, including "The Glass Menagerie."
Choreographer Brooke Trahan has performed in "Seussical," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat" and "Cinderella."
"She is a high student who volunteered to do the choreography," said Pratesi. "She has had a lot of dance training, but being choreographer is a first for her, and I think she's done a really good job."
"I love what they've done, and with each rehearsal they get better," Pratresi added.
Kristi Rapson, a member of NTC's Board of Directors, is directing "A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail."