More than a dozen Cass County residents are preparing to debut in a charitable production of the famous Macy’s “Yes, Virginia the Musical,” this weekend.
Michelle Beedle, who owns and operates a private music instruction studio, Antonia Studios, out of her Belton residence, is producing and choreographing the royalty-free show. She is joined by Peculiar resident Kari Phelps, who is serving as the director.
Together, Beedle and Phelps are coordinating the performance as a benefit for Belton’s Operation Santa project which provides food and cash donations to area families in need.
“Macy’s decided that they wanted to try to give the entire nation a little Christmas magic by making this play royalty-free, and I decided that it would be even more magical if we could give something back to the community,” Beedle said. “I decided that I could donate my time, and maybe find other people who would be willing to donate theirs, and anything we were able to make, we could give away too.”
Two performances at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, will be held at the Belton High Freshman Center, 801 North Ave.
Tickets are $5 for children ages 3-12 and $10 for adults, and can be purchased online at www.sendomatic.com/yesvirginia.
Based on the longtime television special and popular newspaper editorial, the story, set in New York City during 1897, captures the heart of 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon and her quest to discover the truth about Santa Claus.
Beedle said the Belton production of the Macy’s show is the first in the area.
Virginia loves Christmas more than anything else, but when her faith in a man wearing a red suit is shaken by a fight with a schoolyard bully, Charlotte, played by Belton resident Emily DeCock, she writes a letter to the editor of The New York Sun in search for the truth.
A prominent New York City newspaper at the time, Virginia had been assured, "If you see it in The Sun, it’s so."
Her letter to The New York Sun prompted one of the most famous newspaper editorials of all time, and has inspired future generations to believe in the holiday spirit.
Francis Church, the gruff and grumpy editor of The New York Sun newspaper, doesn’t typically have time for charity, little girls or Santa Claus.
Meanwhile, the head librarian at the New York Library, Miriam, portrayed by Ella Smith of Raymore, enthusiastically helps Virginia and her dear friend, Ollie, hunt down proof of the existence of Santa Claus.
“I really had the thought of community, charity and generosity, and if we can spread that, it’s a great Christmas touch,” Beedle said. “And I think the story lends well to that because it is about a little girl in a place where there was a lot of despair but brings Christmas cheer back to her neighborhood, and then really, her nation, because the editorial is the most famous one ever.”
In addition to drawing cast members from Belton, Raymore and Peculiar communities, the show also includes actors from around the metropolitan area, including Gladstone, Lee’s Summit, Raytown and Overland Park, Kan.
Active in the Kansas City arts community herself, this is the first time Beedle, who moved to Cass County in 2011, has organized a community theater production in Belton, but said she would like to make it an annual tradition.