A delightful Christmas short story by O. Henry is brought to life in a Sonoma Arts Live production this weekend at Sonoma’s Andrews Hall. Libby Oberlin directs a staged reading of “The Gift of the Magi” on Friday, November 29, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, November 30, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
The playwright, John Partridge, is also a composer and conductor who has served as musical director for several SAL productions, including Evita and Gypsy, and as SAL board president. He describes The Gift of the Magi, his first musical, “a family-friendly holiday show that people of all ages can enjoy,” said Partridge.
“I tried to think of another story – besides Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ – which most people would know,” he said. “The challenge was to expand this short story into a full-length musical. I think I’ve done that while keeping the spirit of O. Henry’s original.”
The musical is set in New York City in 1905, as newlyweds Jim and Della Young face their first Christmas together without enough money to buy each other presents. Meanwhile Della is trying to get a bunch of boisterous children organized to put on a Christmas pageant with the help of her upstairs neighbor, a retired vaudevillian.
Bringing this new work to life are George Bereschik, Robbie Dornaus, Rhonda Guaraglia, Julia Holsworth, Megan James, Jeane MacPherson, Monica McKey, and Nancy Vandegrift.
This project reunites director Lauren Miller and Partridge, the team that brought the highly successful Evita to the SAL stage in 2017. Miller, a graduate of San Francisco State University, said, “I am thrilled to be working with John again. John’s musical adaptation of the classic story ‘The Gift of The Magi’ brings to light a heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas in a timely manner.”
Between the original score that elevates this story to new heights and a talented cast,” it will be a ‘do not miss’ event,” Miller says. “I am particularly excited that we are doing a staged reading; showcasing new works is vital to the continual growth of American theatre.”
Tickets available from the SCC box office and online at sonomaartslive.org.