FAYETTEVILLE — A house filled with children at Christmas time often brings to mind joy and excitement.

In at least one scenario to be presented locally this year, a dash of anxiety and uncertainty is thrown into the mix.

The Historic Fayette Theater will present "On Christmas Day in the Morning," written by Faye Couch Reeves, as its annual Christmas show next month.

The play is set at the Little Angels Home for the Orphans in Shortcomings, Texas around Christmas time in the mid-1930s. It will be performed during two weekends in December. On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7 and Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13-14, the lights will come up at 7:30 p.m. There will also be matinee performances on two successive Sundays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, at 2 p.m.

"It is about getting enough orphans adopted by the end of the year or else the orphanage will close," explained director Cindy White. "They're in the middle of nowhere and no one is coming to the orphanage.

"The kids come up with a plan to get adopted rather than waiting for parents to come to them."

At the centerpiece of the group of children, whom range in ages from four to 14, is "one ornery orphan, Lucy James" who is "very spunky, and she's been adopted seven times, but she keeps coming back because she says she hasn't found her perfect (home)," said White.

In addition to 18 orphans, the Depression-era story also features 17 adult characters, some whom are "flamboyant," such as an actor and an evangelist, according to White.

"Vicki Cook, Sharon Bibb, ... I have a lot of veterans, kind of an all-star cast," said White. "And the kids have surpassed my expectations. I've found orphans who sing like angels."

At times, the stage is "very full," she noted.

The production features seven or eight Christmas carols, and the opening segment, "Christmas Day in the Morning" arises from the carol "I Saw Three Ships." "They're dancing to it at the very beginning, which is very fun to see," said White.

It marks the first time the play has been performed on the HFT stage, White said. "I read the script, and I knew I wanted to direct kids again because I love putting them on the stage, (and) they just grow and blossom. They develop, they create friendships for a lifetime, and they continue to be involved in theater."

"It (the script) was clever, it was funny, and it gave the kids a lot of opportunities to be funny on the stage," she continued. "I think it's just great family fun.

"I think (the acting and the musical numbers) will appeal to everyone." Theater-goers can expect "a lot of fun, a great heartwarming story," she said. "Every time I listen to the music for the curtain call, I tear up.

"At the end, I really see it as a story about adoption. If anybody has anything like that close to them, it will be really great."

• • •

The cast is as follows:

• Radio announcer — Paul Neil

• Mrs. Irene — Sharon Bibb

• Edith Hancock — Melissa Minter

• Miss Tiny — Shari Davis

• Miss Lou Ann — Millie Petersen

• Mr. Adams — Charles Haga

• Mrs. Adams — Kristen Cantrell/Amy Bloomfield

• Janice — Kiley Price

• Eva Maria Albergotti — Vicki Cook

• Amen Sister Joy — Mykah Price

• Amen Sister Charity — Haylee Swafford

• Amen Sister Faith — Katie Neil

• Betty Ann — Alice Haga

• Miss May — Michele Alvarez

• Albert Winship Montague III — Rick Hill

• Billy — Greg Boggs

• Townsperson — Kaleb Shiflett

The orphans are as follows:

• Bobby — A.J. Bane

• Sweetness — Lily Dyer

• Little Bit — Lilli Kate Pino

• Carol — Rachel Wells

• Susan — Ava White

• Cathy — Chloe Kania

• Sally — Holly Jones

• Hilda — Kendall Bloomfield

• Nick — Ashton Donelow

• Bonnie — Katherine Dyer

• Yvonne — Jordyn Floyd

• Lily — Mia Calloway

• Barbara — Kinzlee Dove

• Sarah — Reagan Calloway

• Blossom — Ivy Carr

• Possum — Marleigh Neil

• Lucy — Scarlett Carr

• Dallas — Brandon Haga

In addition to White in the director's role, the crew includes Paul Contin as production designer; Contin, Vicki Cook and David Bryant in set construction; Contin and Cook in costume designing; Bryant as backstage manager; Jimmy Boothe as lighting designer; Emily Hill as lighting sound technician; and Laurie Zorio as box office manager.

Corporate sponsors include New River Vision Care, Cathedral Café, Canyon Rim Rotary Club, Klenk & Lockhart Family Dental Care, Southern Eye Care Associates and Wisteria's Gifts.

Special thanks are given to Paul Contin, Vicki Cook, David Bryant, The Robbins Company, Oak Hill United Methodist Church and Paul Neil.

Tickets will be $12 for adults and $8 for students under 12 and senior citizens over 55.

Call the theater at 304-574-4655 for more information.

Email: skeenan@register-herald.com or follow on Twitter @gb_scribe

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