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Westmoreland Cultural Trust kicks off season with kids favorite

| Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
A scene from 'Santa's Enchanted Workshop,' which comes to Greensburg's Palace Theatre on Nov. 25, 2012. Credit: Palace Theatre

Westmoreland Cultural Trust is kicking off the holiday season with a family musical designed to energize children's imagination.

“Santa's Enchanted Workshop,” onstage at the Palace Theatre for two afternoon performances this Sunday, is part of a national tour by Theatre IV, a division of Virginia Repertory Theatre based in Richmond. With book, music and lyrics by Richard Giersch and additional lyrics by Bruce Craig Miller, the show follows a young boy, Stanley, as he searches for Santa and discovers his Christmas spirit along the way.

Tour manager Gordon Bass says “Santa's Enchanted Workshop” offers an important message as it reminds children that “it's not the gifts of Christmas that are important, but simple faith that keeps life magical.”

The plot revolves around Stanley and his younger sister, Susu, who, like many children their age, are having doubts about whether Santa exists. Susu is more of a believer than her brother, but they agree to venture to the North Pole for some answers. Before they reach their destination, though, they become lost in a blizzard and seek shelter in a rundown old gas station. There they meet Old Nick, who convinces them that the station is really Santa's Enchanted Workshop and that he is Santa.

“The kids learn that, with a little imagination, Christmas magic can light up even an old garage,” Bass says. “With Nick's help, Stanley's faith is restored.”

Bass says the actors in this production — Mike Brown, Katie Ford, Louise Keeton, Matt Lipscomb and Jacob Pennington — are college graduates with degrees in performance or musical theater. When the current tour ends, they will have presented more than 40 performances in 10 states.

Theatre IV is the second-largest touring theater company for young audiences in the country, offering performances of their shows in 32 states for nearly one million children, their parents and teachers, according to Bass.

“The excitement that we see in the eyes of the children is still the same today as it was when I started touring back in 1983,” he says. “The magic of live theater will continue to dazzle and amaze children of all ages.”

The musical is geared to grades kindergarten through five. In addition to advance sales, tickets will be available at the door one hour before each performance.

Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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