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(Posted 1:30 a.m., Dec. 10)

OYP Christmas play delivers important message
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Spirit of the season shines through in Orleans Young Players production of 'Plenty of Christmas for Everyone'. Fred Sherwin/Photo


In today’s secular society it’s hard to imagine a time when interfaith marriages between Catholics and Protestants were not only frowned upon, but often ripped families apart. Such was the case in many Canadian communities as little as 30 or 40 years ago.

Young lovers who wanted to spend their lives together had to elope and risk being ostracized by the rest of the community and often their own families. It’s one of the reasons why civil marriages became so popular.

Interfaith relationships and the consequences that often resulted, formed the basis of this year’s Orleans Young Players Christmas production “Plenty of Christmas For Everyone”.

The play is set in rural Ontario in the 1930s. Ben McCracken and Holly O’Connor are in love, but their respective religious affiliations – he’s Protestant, she’s Catholic – prevent them from being together.

McCracken wants O’Connor to marry him and move to Toronto, away from the prejudices that dictate their lives.

In his last duty as the village school teacher McCracken has organized the school Christmas play. Unbeknownst to the ill-fated lovers, their younger siblings have come up with a plan to ask Santa to fix everything so that Ben and Holly can get married, but before they can mail the letter they misplace it.

Not to worry, unbeknownst to the kids a higher authority is already on the job. He’s assigned two angels, Clarissa and Jenny, to take care of everything.

The two cherubs, played by Emma Clarkin and Holly Norman, make a few mistakes along the way, but in the end they successfully bring the two lovebirds together.

The couple’s respective mothers, who are against the union from the beginning, eventually see the light and the younger siblings belief in Santa is reaffirmed.

The play end’s with a play in a play as the school children perform “Twas a Night Before Christmas”.

“Plenty of Christmas for Everyone” was written by Cumberland playwright Susan Flemming for the Vintage Stock Theatre company which first performed the play eight or nine years ago.

It’s one of those plays that stands the test of time with its message of tolerance and understanding.

Gordan Watts and Lindsay Neuman were terrific as Ben McCracken and Holly O’Connor, as were Clarkin and Norman as the angels.

Andre Dimitrijevic played Mr. G, Lennis Poupore played the Mayor, Melinda Theriault played Brydie McCracken and Lynn Label and Natasha Janowicz played the couple’s mothers Gertrude McCracken and Sheile O’Connor.

One of the nice things about the OYP Christmas production is that it gives parents the chance to learn the craft with their children,

Lynn Label was able to go through the experience with her two daughters Emily and Rebecca who played Ben McCracken’s little brother Ian and Molly’s little sister Bridgette.

Lennis Poupore’s daughter Kaitlyn also played one of the school children along with Brandon Miller, Brad Hart, Nadeem Oudeh and Taylor and Sydney Smith.

The play was directed by OYP artistic director Kathi Langston.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

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