Wednesday, 02 November 2011 14:43

Rosebud brings New York Christmas to Alberta

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By Rose Sanchez — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Two actors originally from Lethbridge are looking forward to bringing old New York to the Rosebud Theatre’s stage.

The vaudeville-style musical The Gifts of the Magi opens Friday and runs until Dec. 23 on the Opera House stage.

Based on the classic Christmas story by O. Henry, the musical features newly-married couple Jim (Aaron Krogman) and Della Dillingham (Cassia Schramm) who are out of work and broke.

According to a news release from Rosebud, “The Gifts of the Magi explores the challenges this loving couple face as they secretly secure the ideal Christmas gift for each other. This classic story is framed by a host of characters who scurry through the streets preparing for Christmas, including a paperboy and an old bum who is not above doing something illegal in order to spend a few nights in a warm jail.”

Mike Thiessen plays the jovial Soapy, a homeless man who wants to spend a night in a jail cell at Christmas — just for the warmth and security it provides.

Thiessen, originally from Lethbridge, is no stranger to the Rosebud’s stage having acted this season in A Bright Particular Star and Jake and the Kid.

Thiessen likes to joke he had the look for the part when he auditioned, because he was a little disheveled. He also wanted to try his hand at playing a more quirky character who has an uncommon goal of wanting to be arrested.

“I’ve never tried that myself,” jokes Thiessen about trying to be arrested.

He attended the Rosebud School of the Arts in 1999, graduating in 2002. Thiessen has been fortunate enough to be able to earn acting gigs with Rosebud ever since and this past season is in three of the four main stage productions.

“I didn’t do a lot of acting in high school, but I enjoyed being the class clown,” says Thiessen.

He enjoys being on the stage rather than behind the scenes, but appreciates the technical aspects of backstage work.

Thiessen believes audiences will enjoy the Rosebud’s Christmas production because it  is the right mix of music and a heartwarming tale of love.

Nathalie Gauthier is also from Lethbridge and in her third year as a student at Rosebud School of the Arts.

In The Gifts of the Magi, she plays the role of Willy, a street newspaper vendor who sees deeper than the headlines she sells.

Earlier this season, Gauthier appeared on the Rosebud’s School of the Arts stage in Triumph of Love.

She auditioned for the part in The Gifts of the Magi because she liked the fact Willy is a younger character and acts as the story’s narrator, but also is hopeful about the outcomes of the situations which arise.

 Gauthier was involved with theatre in junior high and high school in Lethbridge.

“My parents always said I was a very precocious from a young age,” says Gauthier.

After completing high school, she spent a year working and realized how much she missed being on stage. She decided to pursue theatre at Rosebud School of the Arts.

She has one more year of schooling after this one and hopes to pursue acting in a larger centre such as Calgary or Vancouver.

Gauthier hopes audiences leave the performances of The Gifts of the Magi with a better understanding of the relationships they have in their own lives.

Audience members will also get to know other New Yorkers through numerous incarnations of City Him (Joel Stephanson) and City Her (Laura Gillespie).

“Christmas is a time for optimism. We need to believe that there is good in the world. We need to be able to believe that love can get us through the darkest of times. Out of work and penniless? Love will sustain you. That in a nutshell, is the hope in almost every classic Christmas story. O. Henry certainly brings that poignancy to this story,” says Artistic Director Morris Ertman about the production.

“The New York setting is both romantic and heartless, giving this tale a breadth of expression on our rural Rosebud stage that is unusual, challenging and absolutely delightful.”

The Gifts of the Magi, from the stories by O. Henry, book by Mark St. Germain, music by Randy Courts and lyrics by Randy Courts and Mark St. Germain, runs at Rosebud Theatre from Nov. 4 through Dec. 23. For tickets and show times phone 1-800-267-7553 or visit www.rosebud

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