When production at the Depot Theater was halted this year, there was doubt it could return.

That is no longer the case.

The Depot announced recently the production of the 2020 season starting on Friday, Dec. 6, with the production of "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas" under the direction of artistic director Christopher King.

According to the Depot Theater, the season will include February performances of "The Miracle Worker," April’s musical "Children of Eden," a Cinco de Mayo performance by the newly organized Cultural Division followed by June 2020’s youth summer camp and show featuring Broadway singing, dancing and vignettes.

Schedules and dates have been based upon a review of attendance trends, audience preferences and feedback, and budgetary considerations.

“We are so excited about the number of volunteers that have stepped forward to make sure we could return to the business of theater," said Depot board chairwoman Katie Ruthi. "Christopher King volunteered to serve as artistic director and helped form the new season.

"He suggested 'A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas' and we agreed that this was the one. It is the beautifully written story about a family that is very familiar to a lot of us.

"The story speaks to the heart of each person, young or old, that sees the play. It is poignant, funny and heartwarming. We are all looking forward to the performances.”

According to the Depot, "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas" is the poignant story of the "missing" two years in the life of the Ingalls family, the only substantial period that Wilder chose not to write about in her Little House books.

The play begins with the Ingalls family in their poorest winter ever, when the crops have been devastated by locusts. The family also has been dealing with the death of baby Freddie.

Pa backtracks his family to Burr Oak, Iowa, to take over the running of a hotel.

During their town life, Laura finds a job reading to a wealthy neighbor, and while she enjoys the task, she becomes fearful when she overhears Mrs. Starr make Ma and Pa an offer to adopt her in order to ease the family’s financial burdens.

As Christmas morning approaches, Laura is faced with a decision about her future.

Told with period songs, humor and depth of character, "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas" tells a story of healing that celebrates the importance of enduring family bonds.

The cast of characters includes Pa and Ma Ingalls; their three daughters, Laura, Mary and Carrie; neighbor boy Johnny Steadman; and Mrs. Starr, a lonely widow and neighbor.

The show is sponsored by Western Plains Medical Complex.

"A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas" will run Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons from Dec. 6-23.

All shows will be a dinner theater.

Lobby doors and bar open at 5:30 p.m. with the curtain at 7:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday shows.

The Sunday matinee doors open at noon with a 2 p.m. curtain.

Friday and Saturday dinner/theater tickets are $50.

The Sunday matinee performance/meal tickets are $40.

Groups of 12 or more qualify for group rates of $40 tickets including dinner.

Along with the productions, the Get on Board! campaign is underway where volunteers are welcome to participate in the continuing rebuild of the Depot Theater.

A planning advisory committee will be formed to envision a restructuring and rebuilding for the Depot Theater in January.

The goal of the committee will be to serve a regional audience, expand programs including a cultural division and develop regional youth programs.

“The Theater Guild members have been very supportive throughout this transition and look forward to giving their volunteer time to help the theater continue to be an important place for the arts in southwest Kansas,” said Depot Theater Guild director Barbara Straight.

Recently the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas announced two grants to support future programs designed to provide financial stability.

“We have been through a time of testing," Ruthi said. "With the help and encouragement of the community, the Mariah Fund and the Community Foundation of Southwest Kansas we are working our way back to continuing to provide live theater in the beautiful, state of the art Depot Theater."

 

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