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Ho-Ho Holiday Show at Westfield High

Featuring a cast of 100 and characters ranging from Frosty the Snowman to Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Westfield High presents its Ho-Ho Holiday Show 2006.

Shows are on Friday, Dec. 22, at 10 a.m. and noon, and the student-directed and acted vignettes are just right for preschool and elementary-school children.

Bursting upon the stage will be "The Grinch," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "The Chanukah Story," "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudy the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "'Twas the Night." Tickets are $3 each or five for $10 at the door, or call 703-488-6439.

"There'll be jingle bells, candy canes and colorful lighting," said stage manager Kalyna Jowyk, 16. "And in 'Twas the Night,' the dancers will wear tutus and sparkly costumes, and the Sugarplum Fairy will wear a pretty ballerina outfit."

She said each vignette has lots of visual, physical comedy, "which adds to the written words, to help the kids [watching them] stay focused. And they're all funny and entertaining, so there should be lots of laughs from the audience."

A junior, Jowyk is overseeing all six productions, aided by assistant stage managers Jade Jones and Ken Storch. They organize the rehearsals and, the day of the show, will run the technical cues for lights and sound.

The hardest part, said Jowyk, is "keeping control over 100 students and getting them to listen." But she likes her job because "it makes me feel responsible, like I'm contributing more than just one character on a stage. I love acting, but it gives me a new perspective on it."

<sh>"Frosty the Snowman"

<bt>Meena Sareen and Jonathan Goldsmith, both 17, are co-directing "Frosty the Snowman," starring Chris Wildy, who's black, in the title role. "It's colorblind casting," said Goldsmith. "He was perfect for the role because of his energy and vocal expression."

Sareen assistant-directed this vignette last year, and Goldsmith played the evil magician. Since it's a familiar show, Sareen says children will identify with it because they already know Frosty and can sing along with his song.

"And the cast is very enthusiastic and has good ensembleship," said Goldsmith. "They're exuberant and they smile a lot," added Sareen." And, said Goldsmith, "The kids will really like Chris."

Wildy, a junior, describes Frosty as friendly and kind to everybody: "He represents happiness, all around." But when the magician swipes his top hat, Frosty becomes a regular snowman who can't talk or move.

"I love it," said Wildy, 16. "I did not expect to get this role. I auditioned for a narrator, and this is a lead. I get to entertain kids, and I love to hear people laugh and see their reactions to the crazy things I do."

He said playing Frosty is challenging because, at times, he has to be completely still. Other times, he has to "move stiffly, like a snowman would." But he can hardly wait to see the looks on the children's faces when, as Frosty, he pops out and says, "Happy Birthday!"

Other characters include Claire Manship as Karen, Eric Mitchell as Robbie, Josh Burke as the magician and Erin Calabrese as the cop.

<sh>"The Grinch"

<bt>Co-directors are Chelsea Stenger and Courtney Knickerbocker, and senior Stephen Hatch — who recently played the lead in Westfield's "Macbeth" — portrays the Grinch.

"He's really mean and over-the-top grouchy," said Hatch. "And he hates Christmas and the Who's — and their singing and holiday fun — so much that he decides to steal Christmas."

So the Grinch dons a Santa suit and tapes antlers to his dog Max to disguise him as a reindeer. "And instead of giving presents, he steals them," said Hatch. "He takes everything — the food, tree, presents — because he figures that, without all their material goods, the Who's will be miserable."

And Hatch is having fun with this role. "Ever since I did the holiday show, my sophomore year, and saw the Grinch, I really wanted to be him," he explained. "So I tried out for the Grinch and was really happy to get it."

"I really like these holiday shows because they're a great way for the younger, less-experienced, theater kids to get involved," he continued. "There's a lot of new talent, the audience is always high-energy and you get to do goofball stuff that kids eat up."

Playing Max the dog for the second year in a row is sophomore Russell Wagoner. "Last year, I wore a raggedy fur coat and ears, and they painted my nose black," he said. "And I'm down on all fours. I like not having any lines to memorize; I just throw in an 'Arf!' here and there."

Wagoner auditioned for this part because "I really, really loved playing it last year — especially when I saw the looks on everybody's faces. And afterward, the kids liked coming up and petting me."

He says children will love the shows: "From the dancing to the comedy, there's something for everyone's taste — plus a candy cane at the end — and they get to meet Santa."

Narrators are Robert Yeo and Leah Troscianecki, and the characters include: Serene Peterson as Cindy Lu Who, Katie Reilly as Yodel-a-hee Who, Melissa Powell as Ah-choo Who, and Alex Shim as Kung Foo Who.

<sh>"Chanukah Story"

<bt>Students Sarah Cowdery and Ariel Herman co-direct "The Chanukah Story," and Cowdery, 16, wrote it. "The dialogue is made for kids," she said. "And there's physical comedy, large motions and lots of funny characters."

The Greek king wants the Jews to erect a statue of him in their temple, but they refuse to worship him. There's a war and the Jews win, but their temple is destroyed. The holy lamp only has enough oil for one night but, miraculously, it lasts for eight nights.

Directing for the first time, Cowdery says it's a "good experience to be on the other side of things and learn the kind of work that goes into directing. And working with Ariel is fun.

Junior Cody Jones and freshman Phoebe Dillard play an elderly Jewish couple and narrate the story. "I'm a very old man named Sy, and I'm hard of hearing and yell a lot," said Jones. "We're a stereotypical, classic, New York couple."

"I'm Celia, his wife, who also yells a lot at her husband," said Dillard. Bickering at home at their kitchen table, she said, "Sy talks about Chanukah and how it got started and there's a flashback of the story."

"It's pretty funny; Sarah's written it well," said Jones. Added Dillard: "The things the characters say are natural."

<sh>"Rudy the Reindeer"

<bt>Junior Jade Jones wrote "Rudy, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and students Rebecca Green and Kyla Waitt are directing. It's like the traditional song, but a bit more modern.

All the reindeers are big and strong and are getting ready to deliver the toys with Santa. But they make fun of Rudy because he's the slowpoke of the "Reindeer Rockettes."

But one reindeer, Cupid, is sympathetic and becomes his friend. Then Santa tells Rudy his red nose is special and it would be great to guide his sleigh on such a foggy night.

Taylor Aucott plays Rudy, and Kristin Komisarcik plays Cupid. "I wanted Kristin to be Cupid because she has red hair," said Jones. "And Taylor is a freshman who's small and has glasses, so he has the Rudolph look — and he's a good actor."

Since the song is so familiar, said Jones, children will know it and will understand the action on stage. "The actors will have antlers and bells, and the children will like their movements," she said. "It's fun for me to be part of a children's show because I want to be a teacher, so it's a good learning experience; and children are always funny.

As Rudy, Aucott says it's tough maintaining "the whole, sad-and-loser attitude," because he's normally an upbeat person. But it's cool acting the part of an animal, he said, because "it's a different point of view."

<sh>"Charlie Brown Christmas"

<bt>Directed by Loralee Rolfe and Kelsey Gaber, this vignette stars Lee Doubleday as Charlie Brown and Ken Storch as Snoopy. Ashley Lee portrays Woodstock and Dan Hrebnak is Linus.

Doubleday, 16, describes Charlie as heartwarming, kind, generous and giving. "He wants everyone to enjoy Christmas," said Doubleday. "He's seen as a dork, but he's really pretty mature. It's cool playing him; I'm usually a bad guy and high energy, and now I'm mellowed down to Charlie Brown, so it'll really test my different acting sides."

He said the hardest thing for him will be "not being as ecstatic as I usually am — quieter and less loud." But he's pleased because "I get to be a good guy, for once, and the leader of the town. The kids in the audience look up to him and feel for him."

Sophomore Shire Stein is Frieda. "She's enamored of her curly hair and is vain and full of herself," said Stein. "I'm excited to get this part. I really wanted to be in 'Charlie Brown' because I always liked the Charlie Brown Christmas cartoon and characters."

She's also enjoying being with all the other characters in the ensemble and says the audience will really enjoy this production.

Samantha Henry, 15, plays Lucy. "She's really mean to everybody, but secretly has a crush on Schroeder," said Henry. "She has a soft side that nobody knows about."

Henry likes her role and played it, as well, in sixth grade at Bull Run Elementary. "I'm not really mean in real life, so it's nice to get a license to be mean for awhile," she said. "And the audience will like it because everyone's familiar with the Peanuts gang and their personalities."

<sh>"'Twas the Night"

<bt>Based on the classic poem, "'Twas the Night" is directed by Haroon Haider and Lindsay Thomas. Narrators are Ben Reese, Sarah Mcnicholas and Alvin Kim. Eric Yealy portrays Santa.

Caitlin Booe, 15, plays two dancing roles — a rat and a reindeer. "The rat is a jazz-dance part of the dream sequence, and the reindeer come in at the end when Santa appears," she explained. "It's going to be fun because I've been dancing for 12 years and it'll be cool to do it on stage at school."

She said it'll be hard "to be all creepy" as an evil rat, but "the style of dancing will allow the rat to have cool dance moves and big, body movements." Booe said the reindeer's dancing is more challenging, but has great choreography. She said this vignette combines the poem with "The Nutcracker" and the audience will love seeing it all set to music.