Gift of the Magi

Henry Swanson (Jonathan Bushey) shows Della (Jana Smith) an expensive watchband she wants to get for her husband for Christmas in LifeHouse Theater’s world-premiere musical “Gift of the Magi,” Dec. 7-29.

Saturday, Dec.7, was the premiere of Lifehouse Theater’s long-awaited original Christmas musical production of O’Henry’s short story the “Gift of the Magi.”

The backdrop of this performance is the Depression-era year of 1929, some historical events leading up to the events presented, were the inauguration of Herbert Clark Hoover as the 31st president of the United States, the opening of the longest bridge in the world, the San Francisco Bay toll bridge and the first demonstration of color television is held in New York City.

Set in New York City during the Christmas season, four tenants live in a small apartment building Jim (Nathan Smith) and Della (Jana Smith) Young a married couple, and sisters Josefina (Tiffany Michel) and Susanna (Alondra Mendez-Acosta) Greenly along with their landlords Henry (Jonathan Bushey) and Abigail (Virginia Watterson) Swanson whose marriage has grown distant due to the death of a family member.

One of the sisters, Josefina, has been ill for some time and has dreams of living in Paris while the Youngs, who lack financial resources, are trying to give each other the perfect gift for Christmas.

The ensemble cast features Highland citizens Sally Angell and Laurel Mitchell.

A few of the popular Christmas carols such as “The First Noel,” “Joy to the World,” and “Deck the Halls” are sung. The performances of “Waiting for Eternity” sang by Danny Blair, “Strength From Above” by Tiffany Michel and “Snip Snip” are well written and choreographed musical numbers.

The musical is written and directed by Sarah Pearce and Jeremy Yeo along with credit for music directing. Other production staff includes choreographer Sophie Mills, production assistants Sage Manson and Brittany Waring along with costume designer Beth Derry and set designer Vincent Martinucci. Zachary Michel and Peter Rajca provide lights and sound.

On a personal note, I think this performance is a must-see for people who may be having a difficult time in their life whether it is yourself or a family member. It also shows the personal sacrifice the Young couple makes in buying gifts for each other.

Finally, this performance promotes the message that Christmas is not about the gifts, but the birth of Jesus and that we should appreciate what we have, including family and friends.

The “Gift of the Magi plays through Sunday, Dec. 29. For more information go to boxoffice.lifehousetheater.com or call (909) 335-3037. Merry Christmas everyone!

The Century Group Newspapers, Highland Community News’ parent company is a sponsor for this musical.

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