It mixes humor with some serious moments, and it's one of the best Christmas stories to be heard, according to one fan.
Jamie Gorski's "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" will be performed by the Fort Smith Little Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at the theater, 401 N. Sixth St., and the off-season production will "move" audience members in more than one way, said Eric Wells, a co-director for the show.
"The story is funny; there is a lot of humor," he said. "I wouldn't say it's a drama, but 'Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus' definitely is one of those great Christmas stories that is for all ages. It will touch your heart."
Fort Smith Little Theatre members will share a true story from 1897 in a modern-day setting. The story focuses on what happens when a "down-and-under" newspaper man meets an 8-year-old girl via mail, Wells said.
"The little girl sees unfortunate events unfold, and she begins to have doubt about the spirit of Christmas," he said. "When she meets someone, things change and she finds that the spirit of Christmas is uplifting."
Among those featured in the cast are "four talented" girls ages 9-13, Wells said. These young actors are Salem Colburn (Virginia O'Hanlon), Bekah Wilson (Samantha O'Hanlon), Ellie Friddle (Mary Lou Parker) and Adeena Thomas (Wendy Parker).
This off-season production was written by Jamie Gorski and is Fort Smith Little Theatre's Christmas production. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.
For information, call 783-2966 or visit www.fslt.org.
"We asked all of our volunteers if they would be interested in being part of this show," Wells said. "With the four girls, we did what was kind of a mini-audition, and I have to say that the parts they were cast for are perfect."
Other cast members include Aaron Ray, Rikkee Workman-Black, Michael Relland, Rham Cunningham, Lora Rice, Tyler Huntington and Cecilia Woods-McDonald. Those featured in the production's prologue segments include Jerrica Alexandria, Suzanne Thomas and Michael Richardson.
Crew members for "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa" include production mentor Micki Voelkel, producer Meghan Partain, stage manager Jordan Garton, costumer Summer Ferguson, prop mistress Kiane French-Anderson, set designer Will Paget, sound designer Jacob Hiatt, lighting designer Jennie Mathews and production tech Jamie Lambdin.
"Everyone is great," Wells said. "And the show looks great."
For Wells, co-directing has been a new, worthy experience.
"If you would have asked me a couple years ago if I were to ever direct, I would have said, 'No,'" he said with a laugh. "But after working as an assistant director and being involved as a co-director for this project, I'm very excited about it.
"And I get to work with one of my very best friends, (co-director) Victoria Walden," Wells added. "It's awesome being a co-director."
"It's so much fun co-directing," she said. "Eric and I have been friends for a few years through the theater now, and we work really well together.
"We are very like-minded, and we kind of have the same vision for everything," Walden added. "It's been really easy, from the beginning where we picked the script to the casting. We've been on the same page the whole time."
The cast and crew also have clicked, beginning with the initial rehearsals in October, she said.
"The four girls in the cast instantly clicked with each other," Walden said. "Most of the adults knew each other, so that helps, and they instantly clicked with the kids. And the kids instantly clicked with the adults. Everything has been easy. Everything has been good."