by Lenise Willis

Christmas is such a magical time of year. Santa is keeping an extra sharp eye out for all those who are naughty and nice. Flying reindeer are preparing for the long haul. Elves are building toys for the good girls and boys. But it’s also a troubling time for school children faced with the peer-induced, bubble-bursting question: “You think Santa is real?!” That’s just the disheartening consideration that Virginia O’Hanlon, 8, faces in Macy’s televised animated special Yes, Virginia, written by Chris Plehal and based on a true story. In pursuit of the truth, the child writes a letter to the local newspaper, and the editor’s response is a heartwarming and rejuvenating answer.

“The story of Virginia O’Hanlon writing her famous letter-to-the-editor reinforces my ultimate belief in the good of people,” said Cheri Van Loon, who is directing Twin City Stage’s production of the musical adaptation. “You never know how something you do or say will affect someone.

Sometimes even the smallest of things can be life changing for someone. And I guess at this time of year in particular, it makes me (and hopefully everyone) want to spread some joy!” And speaking of spreading joy, it was Mr. Church’s response that inspired Macy’s annual holiday “Believe” campaign, which supports Make-A-Wish. Macy’s collects letters to Santa at Believe stations in stores and online at, preciated.

“It has been a great experience,” Van Loon said. “They’re both so happy and energetic, and very generous about giving me creative license on the project. They’ll be here for the run and I hope they’ll be proud.”

“There is a lot of magic in our show,” said Justin Glinn, scenic designer. “One example would be our Believe Meter. It is a highly unique piece of technology and I think audiences are going to love it. That being said, all I can say is that it’s going to be very eye opening when it’ s magic is revealed.”

Glinn added that the set in its entirety reflects the spirit of Christmas and resembles how any turn-of-the-century family would decorate for the holiday: garland on wrought iron fences, wreaths and candles in the windows.

The musical itself also reflects the season of giving, as it has been offered royalty-free to schools for the past three years, to inspiring elementary and middle schools nationwide to perform the original production in their local communities. !


Twin City Stage performs Yes, Virginia The Musical Friday through Sunday at the Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem. Tickets are $12. For tickets and more information call 725-4001 or visit