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Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!) On Stage in Visalia

IN THE November 30 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andArts & Entertainment,
andTheatre
SECTIONS

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon for this show at the end of this article

Kick off the holiday season with the antics of three actors portraying 30 men, women, and animals in 90 minutes! The action is packed with fun that will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter. The Visalia Players presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!) as the perfect opener to a season filled with joy and spirit.

From left to right: Craig Harrill, Elaine Wood, and Sergio Garza

The show directed by Sylvia Garoian and Gary Benjamin has well defined characters portrayed by “wonderful actors, who understand that timing is critical” for this fast paced, farce-like, script. Garoian describes Jim (Craig Harrill) as the traditionalist, John (Sergio Garza) as the child spirit of Christmas, and Michael (Elaine Wood) as the intellectual. Just imagine those three personalities set on a mission to uplift your spirits! According to Benjamin, “at times they are irreverent which I love!” Although young children may not follow all the lines and nuances, “they will be entertained by the sights, sounds, and vocal changes.”

The cast includes veteran actors. Frequent attendees at the Ice House will remember Garza from many shows including Shakespeare Abridged and Lonely Planet. Wood is also an Ice House veteran with a wide range of acting skills displayed in such diverse shows Hot Flashes and Seven. Harrill is a newcomer to the Ice House, but has a professional acting background on stage and screen. Harrill was last on stage at COS in 1996 and was encouraged to come back to the stage by his mother after they saw Of Mice and Men.

Recently, Harrill has been employing his talents with his fifth grade students, but is very excited to be performing with actors that have synergy. “I am happy to be working with people I enjoy.” Harrill indicated that although he has been involved with many shows and venues over the years, he has never done a role where “I change character mid-line. I go from Scrooge to George Bailey (think It’s a Wonderful Life) in one line including voice quality.”

Wood identifies Michael as wanting to explore the meaning of the Christmas spirit and ultimately wants to tell the audience what he really wants for Christmas. Although Michael was originally written for a male actor, Wood, the directors, and fellow actors believe that the role is really androgynous given the various characters Michael portrays. “I hope people are uplifted when they leave, leaving their cares behind for a few hours.”

Garza describes John as having “the heart and mind of a child. I loved the script when I read it.” When discussing the rapid transitions required, Garza noted, “It’s a rush to go between characters. By the end of the show, you feel like you have been to the gym. It leaves you with a good upbeat feeling.” Garza expressed his excitement, “It is a fantastic show if you are a holiday person and like to enjoy fun times.
It is about the joy that Christmas brings.”

From left to right: Elaine Wood, Craig Harrill, and Sergio Garza

Supporting the energy filled, rapid costume and prop changing characters of Christmas stories from around the world is Gail Conn. Conn provides the sound effects and accompaniments that include holiday tunes as well as an original song, The Most Famous Carols of All, which is certain to sound familiar!

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!), a rollicking start to your holiday season, opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, December 2, 2011 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 12/2, 12/3, 12/9, 12/10, 12/16, and 12/17 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 12/4, 12/11, and 12/18.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Print this page and take to the show to get discount:

Visalia Community Players Two-For-One Coupon
Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)
By Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez
Admit 2 Adults for $12.00
Coupon good for any performance of the play.
One Coupon Per Family
Reservations Suggested – 559-734-3900

Watch for a new Local Live every Wednesday evening at 7!

Nancy Holley has been involved with the Visalia Community Players off and on since the 1970’s, both as a director and actor. In July, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since then expanded her role at the Players and is now Vice President of the Board, and on the perusal committee.

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