The Walnut Street Theatre to Present THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI
The Walnut Street Theatre continues its 2019-20 Independence Studio on 3 season with O. Henry's classic tale, THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI. Directed by Jesse Bernstein, the production begins previews on November 12, opens November 21, and continues through December 22.
In this heartwarming and romantic musical comedy, a group of holiday carolers tell the story of Della and Jim, desperately in love with each other but also penniless at the holidays. In their attempt to buy proper presents, a strange twist of fate leads each to find the perfect gift for the other-but at what cost? This beautiful musical adaptation of the classic O. Henry story reminds us of the true meaning of giving, and of love.
THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI is a musical adaptation of "The Gift of the Magi," created by American short-story writer William Sidney Porter, better known by his pseudonym O. Henry. In 1902 O. Henry arrived in New York and began writing weekly stories for the New York World, which originally published "The Gift of the Magi" in 1905. It has since been adapted countless times in a variety of mediums, including this musical production which was written by Mark St. Germain and Randy Courts and premiered at Lamb's Theatre in 1984.
Jesse Bernstein returns to the Walnut to direct THE GIFTS OF THE MAGI. Bernstein recently directed the Walnut's Independence Studio on 3 production of It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, and WST for Kids productions of Disney's The Little Mermaid, Jr., Disney's Aladdin, Jr., and Honk! Jr. As part of the Walnut's Touring Outreach program, he directed The Return of Nick Nutrition and The Boy Who Cried Bully. Bernstein has also performed at the Walnut in numerous shows including Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, and Broadway Bound.
Portraying the show's hopeless romantics, Jim and Della Dillingham, will be Walnut favorites Sean Thompson and Alanna J. Smith. Thompson, who originated the role of Raoul on the national tour of Love Never Dies, was last seen on the Walnut stage playing Warner Huntington III in the smash hit production of Legally Blonde The Musical. Before making his Broadway debut in Sunset Boulevard, the Temple University alum and Barrymore Award nominee played Buzz Adams in the Walnut's production of South Pacific.
Alanna J. Smith returns to the Walnut fresh off of her performance as Inga in the record-breaking run of Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. A previous Walnut acting apprentice, Smith has become a Mainstage regular, performing in multiple Walnut productions including Ken Ludwig's A Comedy of Tenors, Noises Off, A Funny Thing...Forum, The Importance of Being Earnest, Wizard of Oz, and A Christmas Story.
Malcolm Bishop makes his Walnut debut as Willy Porter, a newspaper boy who narrates the story and guides the audience through the hustle and bustle of New York City during the holidays. Bishop studied musical theater at Point Park University and his credits include Choir Boy (WDL Productions), Rent (PCA Theater), and Les Miserables (PCA Theater).
Longtime Walnut actor and director Bill Van Horn will play the homeless but optimistic Soapy Smith. At the Walnut, Van Horn has directed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, A Christmas Carol, Peter and the Starcatcher, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Glass Menagerie. He has also appeared on stage in numerous other Walnut productions, including: Annie, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Wizard of Oz, A Christmas Story, Mary Poppins, Elf, and Fiddler on the Roof.
Taking on the multi-faceted roles of City Him and City Her will be Jamison Foreman and Amanda Jill Robinson. Foreman has performed in countless regional productions, including the Walnut's productions of Miss Saigon and White Christmas, as well as his international performances in Fame (Chinese Tour) and Overexposed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In addition to performing on stage, Foreman will serve as the show's music and vocal director.
Walnut veteran Amanda Jill Robinson returns after most recently starring in last season's WST holiday production of the Winter Wonderettes. She is the co-creator and one half of the edu-comedy duo, Ruth and Estelle, a pair of entertainers and educators who perform engaging and inclusive cabarets, master classes, and host their joy-filled podcast, "Learning Through Laughter." Robinson's other Walnut credits include A Child's Christmas in Wales, A Christmas Carol, Fly Guy: The Musical and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day.
Transporting audiences to the festive streets of New York City on the eve of Christmas in 1905 will be Scenic Designer Andrew Thompson (Civil War Voices, The Glass Menagerie, The Gift). Thompson will be joined by Costume Designer and Assistant Costume Shop Manager Rebecca Dwight. Dwight's previous work at the Walnut includes Meteor Shower, Civil War Voices, Oleanna, and It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Lighting Designer Ryan J. Stofa joins the Walnut for the first time, having previously designed for the Arden APA Showcase's In Arial Narrow: An American Musical and HUM Productions' A Way Home. Sound Designer Mark Valenzuela (Honor and the River, The Other Place) rounds out the design team.
The 2019-20 media sponsors for the Independence Studio on 3 season are Philly Weekly and WHYY. Tickets are $42 - $47 and are now available at 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available at walnutstreettheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.
Photo Credit: Mark Garvin