Meridian Star

Local News

November 27, 2012

Timeless message: Central UMC to stage 'Christmas Play' Dec. 9

MERIDIAN —     Caroline Carns is producing a play that is close to her heart.

    Most commonly called the Christmas Play, it was written in England by Helen Mortimer in 1942 in memory of her son, Michael, who was killed in World War II.

    Mortimer headed the Elmhurst Ballet School, which Carns later attended. The school put on the production every year. Carns said she wouldn't mind making it an annual event here.

    The play, a combination of drama and dance, is geared more toward an adult audience.

    "It's very poetic," Carns said. "It's addressing the very same issues that we are dealing with today, in particular the climactic crowd scene ending."

    Among other places, Carns said the play was performed in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral in 1945, and at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1946 with a final crowd scene involving 150 children.

    Although Carns has updated it to some extent, she says the play is just as significant as it was in 1942.

    "Today people's fears and concerns have not changed. Urban violence may have increased. We are perhaps more afraid of isolated terrorist attacks instead of a Holocaust," she said. "We are still dealing with the same issues. That's why it is as poignant today as it was 70 years ago. And we're still looking for answers."

    The play will be staged at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9, at Carns' church, Central United Methodist Church, 1004 23rd Ave. Admission is free. After the play, which lasts an hour, refreshments will be served — tea and biscuits (cookies).

    Carns, who is originally from England, has taught dance throughout the United Kingdom and United States. She has worked on stage, film, and television with some of the entertainment industry's biggest stars such as Rudolf Nureyev and David Niven. The Christmas Play, however, remains one of the most meaningful productions she's been involved with.

    "This remains very dear to my heart. I'm very glad to be able to replicate it at Central," Carns said. "Of course the theme that Christ is the answer is one I've come to embrace fully."

    Carns teaches ballet at Meridian Community College and she has a studio in Philadelphia. Some of her students are in the play as well as members of the church, some performers outside the church, and some members of Stage 2, the youth division of the Meridian Performing Arts Center.

    Cast members include: Guardian Angel: Damian Harman; Mary: Madeline Kennedy; Joseph: Doug Kennedy; Shepherds: Kelly Cluff, Jim Copeland, George Washington; Kings: Bill Jacobs, Lee Williams, Zena Limerick; Children: Olivia Hawkins, Piper Gonzalez, Sydney Stokes; Spirit of Youth: Tanner Goldman; Angels: Anna Bowen, Cowley Garrett, Kate Marshall, Abby Stokes, Hannah Stokes, Samantha West, Cassie Yamas, Hannah Whatley, Caroline Prewitt; King's Bearers: Andrew Boothe, Mason Doxey, Logan Hulvey.

    The Rev. Bob Peden is the musical director. Terese Stuckman made the costumes.

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