Play opens Dec. 6 at Theatre on the Square
The holidays are meant to be a time of joy and celebration, but for many people they can also be a stressful time. That’s especially true for the characters of the Pulaski Fine Arts Association’s upcoming production of “A Gift To Remember,” who find themselves stranded at a train depot on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a story of some travelers at holiday time … and they kind of become their own little family,” explained Janet Rozmiarek, who co-directs the play with Maria Whittaker.
Written for the stage by Joseph Robinette and based on the book “Can This Be Christmas?” by Debbie Macomber, “A Gift to Remember” will open at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Theater on the Square in downtown Waynesville. Future shows are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 13, 14, 21 and 22, with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Dec. 15. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and younger.
According to Rozmiarek, audiences will not only get to follow the main story but, “a bunch of little mini stories,” as the 16-member cast reveal their characters’ backgrounds and reasons to travel home for the holidays.
Gerri Dallhammer appears as Cathy Norris, a recently widowed woman visiting her daughter, Madeline, played by Shannon Shrum.
Jason Wardell plays Matt McHugh, a computer salesman who, over the phone, has to tell his wife, Pam, played by Laurie Wardell, that he may be late for Christmas.
Sarah Mallman appears as Elise Jones, a single mom traveling with her daughter, Kate, played by Sophia Sanderson.
Conner Sutterley plays Len Dawber, a Sailor traveling home to propose to his fiance, Amy, played by Talia Johnson.
Curtis Wood and Katie Roberts appear as Nick and Kelly Berry, who are taking their newly adopted baby to see their parents.
Gary Akins and Monica Johnson appear as Sam and Louise Larsen, an older couple who, as soon-to-be grandparents, are looking forward to visiting their children.
Shrum also appears in a dual role as Deanna Owen, the director of a local church choir that stops by to entertain the passengers. Appearing as members of the choir are Alyssa Spenser, Olivia Frommett and Kinsley Guida, along with Laurie Wardell and Talia Johnson, who also have dual roles.
Overseeing the passengers’ welfare is Clayton Kemper, played by Tracy Moran, who has the distinction among the cast as a female playing a male role.
“It’s not the first time I’ve played a male role,” said Moran, who has appeared in numerous PFAA productions for more than a decade. She described her character as, “an older gentleman who runs the train station.”
“He’s good-hearted,” she said. “He kind of has to step in and calm everyone down.”
When asked to describe the tone of the play, Rozmiarek said it is neither a comedy nor a drama, but contains a message that corresponds to the true meaning of the holiday season.
“It’s just kind of heartwarming,” she said. “There are some funny moments in there, and there are a few tense moments, too. If there is one message, it’s that the holidays are about being with family, and that even if you’re stuck somewhere with complete strangers, you kind of make a family wherever you are.”
PFAA has self-rated the show PG.
Tickets can be ordered by calling 573.528.4164 or on the PFAA website at www.pfaa-tots.com.