Pontine Theatre Premieres A NEW ENGLAND CHRISTMAS, 12/12-15

12 - 15 December, Pontine Theatre premieres A New England Christmas at Pontine's West End Studio Theatre. The program, underwritten by Chris Dwyer & Michael Huxtable, includes two 19th century stories which take place in New England villages. The Romance of a Christmas Card, by Kate Douglas Wiggin, and Cap'n Eli's Best Ear, by Frank Stockton. The soundtrack includes traditional melodies, many of them played and recorded by Strafford, NH's Jeffrey Zohler. Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 4:00 and Sunday at 2:00. Tickets are $24 and may be purchased in advance at -- www.pontine.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door (cash & checks only) a half-hour prior to each performance, based on availability. Pontine's 2013-14 Season is supported by grants from the NH State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Pontine's West End Studio Theatre is located at 959 Islington Street in Portsmouth NH. The theatre is not visible from the street. Look for the big 959 on the signpost at the head of the drive. Pontine's West End Studio Theatre is fully accessible with easy private parking. For information, contact Pontine --info@pontine.org -- (603) 436-6660.

Pontine Theatre Co-Artistic Directors, M. Marguerite Mathews and Greg Gathers unveil original adaptations of two heart-warming Christmas stories set in New England: Captain Eli's Best Ear by Frank Stockton, a yarn about two salty, old sea captains who decide to keep Christmas together; and The Romance of a Christmas Card by Kate Douglas Wiggin, a story about far-flung families reunited by the lure of a Christmas with the "folks back home." These charming 19th century holiday stories-not to mention punch and cookies-are sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

First published in 1916, The Romance of a Christmas Card by Kate Douglas Wiggin tells the story of how a Christmas card brings wandering sons home to their families in rural New Hampshire. This story spirits audiences back to a simpler time, as two village prodigals have been gone for four years, leaving gossip and grief behind--not to mention a minister sorrowing over his rogue son and a sister with orphan twins to raise.

The Romance of a Christmas Card spans two Christmases in the village of Beulah, New Hampshire and tells of a minister's wife who is inspired by a real-life scene to design and put verse to a Christmas card. The card's publication leads to a remarkable coincidence that affects the lives of all the characters. The Romance of a Christmas Card is, in the end, a story of strange coincidences that ultimately lead to redemption. The cast and set of Victorian-style Toy Theatre Figures for this captivating tale were designed and constructed by Pontine Co-Artistic Director, Greg Gathers.

Author, Kate Douglas Wiggin, is best known for Rebecca of Sunnybrook farm, which was published in 1903. She was born in 1856 and spent part of her childhood in Hollis, Maine. She moved back to Hollis later in life and, when she died in 1923, her ashes were scattered into Maine's Saco River

Cap'n Eli's Best Ear, by Frank Stockton, takes place in late December in a charming little seaside village. Cap'n Eli Bunker, a retired sea captain, is inspired, after many lonely years as a widower, to try his hand at celebrating Christmas once again. After much cogitation, he conspires with his friend and neighbor, Cap'n Cephas Dyer, to mount a fitting holiday event. An orphaned child and Mrs. Trimmer, whose husband "sailed away in a schooner and never returned," fill out the cast for this delightful tale. The characters are all played by beautifully crafted bunraku-style puppets, created by Pontine Co-Director, Greg Gathers.

Frank Stockton was born in Philadelphia in 1834. Best known for The Bee-Man of Orn, he was an American writer and humorist, celebrated for innovative children's tales that were widely popular during the last decades of the 19th century. He served as assistant editor of Scribner's Monthly, in New York City. and kept homes in New Jersey and West Virginia, where he spent the greater part of his time until his death in 1902.




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