Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Famed ‘The Gift of the Magi’ with music scheduled in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Play-by-Play Theatre

Production poster.


Play-by-Play Theatre of greater Green Bay will present “The Gift of the Magi” in five performances in December in Robert Lee Brault Playhouse.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5-6, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Info:

The production is based on the famous short story of 1905 by O. Henry, master of surprise endings.

This version was originally presented at American Players Theatre in Spring Green. The adaptation is by James DeVita (book and lyrics) and composer Josh Schmidt.

The story is that of a young couple (Ben Olejniczak and Kaara McHugh, who are husband and wife) who sacrifice their prize possessions to buy each other Christmas gifts. Appearing as narrator in the personage of O. Henry is Lyle Becker. Also featured is cellist Wendy Scattergood.

The company is led by Mary Ehlinger.

Story snapshot: Della and Jim live in a small flat in New York City during the early 1900s. They have empty pockets but are full of love and moxie.

DeVita added to the story’s original through-line. Events mentioned only in one line of the story grow into full scenes. Also fleshed out are the social and economic context of the time, Jim’s life outside of the home and other aspects.

Schmidt wrote 17 pieces that accompany story. The score blends modern, traditional and folk music, using classic Christmas carols along with original pieces.

The playhouse also is home to Green Bay Community Theater. The theater is one of Play-by-Play Theatre’s performance spaces.

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