Players and PATA to Perform


Annette Ritzko, Web Editor

The Misericordia Players, the university’s theater group, are teaming up with the Performing Arts Training Academy to put on “A Christmas Carol” and a short play, “Making Christmas Happen.”

Dr. Cari Tellis, Professor of Speech Pathology, director of the Performing Arts Academy and co-director of the Christmas performance, said this marks the second time the Players and PATA will collaborate. There are more performers this year, with 38 children and university students participating. Some performers are in both productions, she said.

“A Christmas Carol” will feature both song and dance while “Making Christmas Happen” is a play, said Tellis.

“‘Making Christmas Happen’ was written by our acting coach, Orlando R. Baron. The show is based on a Christmas story he wrote last year called ‘The Exceptional Eight Save Santa: Making Christmas Happen,’ and we’re excited to perform it,” said Tellis.

Tellis  said performances will be accompanied by a live band consisting of musicians playing base, piano, drums and percussion instruments. PATA performers taking guitar lessons, and they will join in for the songs “Christmas Lights” by Coldplay and “Jingle Bells.”

“We thought it would be a lot of fun to join with the Misericordia players because we believe the PATA performers would be able to learn a lot from working with university level actors and that the holiday season would be a nice time to come together,” said Tellis.

Jeffery Kelly, Theater Director and co-director of this year’s  show, is an alumni of the Misericordia Players, so he wants to give students more opportunities to act aside from the two shows the university offers each year.

“I went through my undergraduate and Master’s degree through Misericordia, and one of the biggest things I’ve always wanted to see us do is get more opportunities for people to act, so I wanted to put on more than the two shows we have every year. We’ve worked with PATA in the past during the winter, but this year we went to an extreme and will be putting on a musical and straight show in one night. I think doing this will give the Misericordia students, firstly, another opportunity to act and secondly, a different perspective,” said Kelly.

Although “A Christmas Carol” is well-known, Kelly believes there are still a lot of surprises in store.

“Every day, both Dr. Tellis and I are blown away by the talent we have on that stage from kids age seven to seniors in college. It’s nice to see everybody getting on stage and enjoying themselves, the older kids let go of their inhibitions and the younger kids welcome the older kids with open arms. Come see the show,” said Kelly.

Bryson Cahill, a junior business administration major who will play Bob Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol” and Santa Clause in “Making Christmas Happen,” said he is cast in a fatherly role.

“It is challenging being cast in a fatherly role and having to deal with them all, but it’s been really fun as well. I’ve always been into theater and I’ve never done a Christmas show before, so I thought it would be fun to especially joining up with the younger kids to show them what we do and what they can look forward to if they continue to act. Hopefully, through this, they will also see that we continue to grow and learn even at our age,” said Cahill.

Other cast members enjoy working with the children performers as well, such as Chantal Whiteduck, a sophomore speech language pathology major who plays Jacob Marley in the show, and Samantha Midkiff, a sophomore communications major who plays  Caroline.

“I really love kids and I’ve been involved with PATA in the past, so I definitely wanted to be part of it again. I like working with the kids and helping teach them what to do and how to write down their lines and making sure they are performing to their best ability,” said Whiteduck.

“It’s very different working with little kids. I’ve only ever worked with two at a time, so working with about ten of them is a lot, but they can be a lot of fun and they’re so cute,” said Midkiff.

Jacob Schweiger, a senior philosophy pre-DPT major who plays Scrooge, said he was looking forward to his big chance.

“I did the show because I didn’t try out for the fall show, but I still wanted to get on stage this semester. I’m excited to play Scrooge, but I think it will be hard. It’s not a natural role for me, but I think it will be fun to have that challenge, and the PATA kids have been a lot of energy, but also a lot of fun.”

He said it’s the season for everyone to enjoy. “I think if you were to take a moral lesson from the play, it would be to act like it’s Christmas all year round,” said Schweiger.

The shows will be held Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. and December 11 at 2 p.m.