Houlton Pioneer Times

Houlton Middle-High school students to perform holiday radio plays|

HOULTON, Maine — There may not be any thespians on the stage of the Houlton Community Arts Center this year, but students will have at least some form of theater experience. 

Students at Houlton Middle-High School have been hard at work rehearsing, recording and editing two radio plays for the community this holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 19, and Sunday, Dec. 20.

Middle-schoolers, grades 6-8, have been working on a version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” while the high school is performing “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” under the guidance of choral director Nicholas Foster.

The students have been working on character voices and accents with Foster for the past few weeks.

“This is a new and exciting adventure for everyone, as the radio play medium is rarely used in today’s era of technology,” Foster said. “We are excited to revive this art form in the Houlton community.”

“Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”  is a rarely-performed, yet heartwarming tale that is a charming look at a family who struggles to provide basic necessities for their household, let alone Christmas gifts. 

“Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol” is the well-known story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who does not share his wealth. Scrooge is visited by ghosts and afterward transforms into a kinder, gentler man.

Houlton Middle School’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol” will be heard at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19, on local radio station WHOU 100.1 FM and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, Houlton High School’s presentation of “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” will take place.  

Listeners may also live stream both events at whoufm.com

Foster said he felt it was extremely important to offer some type of theater production for the students, considering the traditional school play was canceled this year due to COVID-19.

“I try to empathize with my students and see the current climate through their eyes,” Foster said. “As a ‘theater kid,’ so much of my life revolved around what was happening in our performing arts program. I know that if I were to have been a high school student during this time, I would have been absolutely heartbroken to not have the communal experience of making theater.” 

Foster said the students were excited about bringing these stories to life and added it has not only been an important and healing experience for them, but the students also know it will bring some joy and comfort to the community as well. 

“I am so proud of my students’ work and growth, in the face of the challenging circumstances this year has given them,” he said.

Jack Hodgkins has the lead role of the storyteller/Ebenezer Scrooge. Other cast members are: Morgan Quirk, Pressley Goodwin, Mary-Drew Metherell, Shiloh Richardson,  Samantha Romanelli, Jaeda Cyr, Amelia Flewelling, Sarah Howe, Sage Bettencourt, Madeline Beals, McKenna Phillips and Bella White.

Cast members for “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” are: Nicholas Hardy, Kristian Kellerhals, Christian Lively, Ellie Grant, Emmalyne Drake, Lydia Byron, Amelia Callnan, Sydney Peabody, Kaitlin Kenney, Abbey Lowrey, Elizabeth Howe, Isabel Cyr and Tia Burlock.

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