For fans of local live performances who have missed being able to watch classic plays and musicals from Yakima’s Warehouse Theatre Company, the next best thing is about to arrive on your personal computer screen. From Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, WTC will be presenting a series of online Christmas shows that will also mark the debut of the new Warehouse Theatre Kids Troupe.
The plays in the series will involve children from fourth to eighth grade who have been involved with WTC shows in the past. The productions will all be pre-recorded, with socially-distanced casts performing on sets.
The shows are being made available for online viewing through the WTS website at www.warehousetheatrecompany.org, with access links being posted there prior to the 7 p.m. first date for each scheduled presentation. Each show will be available online for three consecutive dates, with the first two shows being made available again toward the end of December. No admission fee is required.
The productions in the series are:
• “The Christmas Truce” (which showed online Nov. 26, 27, and 28, with another performance Dec. 24) is a more serious play based on the World War I Christmas truce of 1914. Soldiers on the British and German front spontaneously decided to stop firing on each other until after Christmas, coming out of the trenches to meet each other, sing carols and play games. This play’s four cast members portray British soldiers who are writing a letter home about the miraculous event that occurred that Christmas Eve.
• “Elves: Disaster in the Control Room” (which showed Dec. 3, 4, 5, with another performance Dec. 23) is a more comical, fun play about Christmas elves at the North Pole who work in the control room that prepares everything for Santa’s departure on Christmas Eve. The story, involving 12 cast members, follows Spark, a determined and motivated elf who is in charge of making sure everything is ready for Santa to launch who is hoping everything goes perfectly so she can be chosen as the next chief elf.
• “Christmas Shorts Online Part 1” (Dec. 10, 11, and 12) and “Christmas Shorts Online Part 2” (Dec. 17, 18, and 19) are a series of comical and sweet scenes about trying to find the true meaning and spirit of Christmas, and involves all 16 youths involved in the upcoming productions.
The idea of the Warehouse Theatre Kids Troupe was built out of the disappointment of the children who had been cast in last spring’s WTC production of “Matilda: The Musical” that had to be cancelled. The organization wanted to find some way to give these kids a part of what had been taken from them, while also providing some special holiday joy to the community.
Parent volunteer Kathy Snow said: “The last two years, the Christmas shows sold out so quickly that additional shows were added. In wanting to do something for the community, we decided to ask the kids who had been cast in ‘Matilda’ as well as the past two Christmas shows to participate in the troupe and create some virtual content for the Christmas season.”
Ruth Veselka, a parent volunteer who took on the major responsibility of directing these Christmas shows, added: “We didn’t realize how much we needed this until we started. The joy [from the kids] reminds me of my humanity in a time where it is so easily forgotten.”
From the beginning, these online Christmas shows haven’t been about putting out the perfect performances with a selective cast or rigorous training. They are all about these kids having fun and bringing a bit of joy to their community in a time where it can be hard to find.
• Susan Wilmes is a junior at Davis High School and a member of the Yakima Republic’s Unleashed program for teen journalists. She is serving as an assistant director with WTC’s Warehouse Theatre Kids Troupe.