(HILLSBOROUGH, NJ) -- As the impact of the COVID pandemic is felt around the world, this year’s holidays will be looking and feeling different. Parents who normally enjoyed taking their kids to the ballet to see The Nutcracker or to the theatre to watch A Christmas Carol will have to find new and innovative family entertainment.
Enter the Somerset Valley Players (SVP) a nonprofit community theatre in Hillsborough, NJ, who are presenting Dad’s Christmas Miracle, a virtual holiday show that the entire family can enjoy right from home.
“I loved the strong family bonds and the heartfelt holiday message of the comedy,” said director Emily M. Windus. “It’s important to have a fun and upbeat story, as we’ve all missed out on so much in recent months.”
Dad’s Christmas Miracle is a nostalgic tale of Conner Murphy, a boy in the 1950s, whose Christmas wish is for a go-kart. Plans go awry, and it’s up to his dad to do the impossible by Christmas morning.
Working in the virtual space changes every aspect of the process of putting on a show. “At auditions, we had to look for an actor’s ability to utilize facial expressions, since body language is limited, as they are only visible from the shoulders up on screen. We also sought a show with a medium sized cast so there wouldn’t be too many ‘boxes’ on the screen,” explains Windus.
There is no “backstage” in a virtual production but there is a stage manager. “Instead of running around to make sure everything is done and all the props are organized, the actors are at home and responsible for their own props,” comments stage manager Shannen Rivers. “There’s no set, only virtual or plain backgrounds. It’s a challenge to relearn a whole new way to do something you’ve done for years.”
“I really enjoy working with young actors, especially on a holiday show” adds Windus. “But with virtual rehearsals, we miss the actors and production team having time to get to know each other before and after a rehearsal. We don’t know yet when we’ll be able to get back on the stage, so we’re planning on virtual shows for the near future.”
Produced by Paula C. Windus, and stage managed by Shannen Rivers, Dad’s Christmas Miracle will be broadcast on December 4 at 8:00pm; December 12 at 4:00pm; December 19 at 8:00pm; and December 27 at 4:00pm. Tickets are available for purchase online.
The show’s sponsor is Realtor Gilbert Gray, who has also appeared on the SVP stage.
The Somerset Valley Players theater is located on 689 Amwell Road (Route 514) in Hillsborough. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the theatre building is currently closed.
For tickets, show times, and updates on the theatre, go to www.svptheatre.org.