• Alyssa Collins

Lockport's Limestone Stage Presents a Tale of Faith, Healing

Published in the Lockport Legend

Actors aged four to 81 performed this year’s holiday show, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” at the Limestone Stage for opening night on Friday, Dec. 6.

Based on a true story and adapted as a T.V. movie in 1991, theater director, Kit Lindblom, took the production to Lockport’s community theater. The story begins in New York City in 1897 and highlights the themes of racism and sexism that overwhelmed this time period.

“We’re talking about the Irish, the Italians, and all of the people who came [to the U.S.] from 1840 on,” said Dean Dranias who is casted as the narrator for the play. “It talks about the tenor of the times and yet it’s somewhat modern also.”

Frank Church, a successful reporter for the New York Sun, falls into a deep pit of grief while mourning the death of his wife and daughter who passed away just a year earlier. To make matters worse, he was on assignment in another part of the world and was unable to be there with his wife as she died of pneumonia.

Struggling to maintain his job as a reporter, New York Sun editor and play narrator, Ed Mitchell, comes up with a devious plan to get Church back as his top reporter. Mitchell receives a letter from 8-year-old, Virginia O’Hanlon, played by Kara Rivera in her first Limestone Stage performance. O’Hanlon, citing her father’s famous words, “If you read it in the sun, it’s so,” asks the newspaper to tell her if Santa Claus is real. The rest of the play follows the heartwarming story of Church responding to O’Hanlon’s letter and getting back a piece of his happiness.

“Yes people had hardships; people faced their own demons and their own trials and tribulations, but there was hope,” said Lindblom. “Bottom line is Virginia writes to the paper because she hopes that they are going to say ‘No, there is a Santa Claus. Your hope in that is not unfounded.’”

Lindblom casted community actor, Chris Gryniewicz, to play Church. Lindblom noted that he has worked with Gryniewicz in past performances, but never in a dramatic role. This is his first holiday play with the Limestone Stage and his first time acting in a drama for quite some time, Gryniewicz said.

“Getting into the character and getting myself into a rather dark place every night can be challenging,” said Gryniewicz.

Lindblom and his cast have been rehearsing “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” since October. The crew originally planned to perform a non-musical version of “A Christmas Story,” but did not want to compete with a neighboring community theater. This is not the first time the Limestone Stage has put on a performance outside of the traditional holiday realm. Last year’s holiday production “Humbug” was a rendition of the classic “A Christmas Carol” but with a female lead.

The Limestone Stage, which is located inside the Lockport Township Center at 1463 Farrell Rd., was filled with family and friends who came out to support the actors. President of the Lockport Woman’s Club, Jane Passaglia, sat front row to support her friend and fellow woman’s club member, Cherie McWherter, in her debut role at the Limestone Stage.

“Our actors and our technicians and crew, their paycheck is the appreciation of the audience. They get paid in applause. They get paid in laughter,” said Lindblom.

“Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” will be at the Limestone Stage through next weekend. Tickets can be purchased online before the show.

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