All aboard The Christ­mas Ex­press

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - OPINION - MONTE SONNENBERG SIM­COE RE­FORMER MSon­nen­berg@post­

Christ­mases­that­mee­tandex­ceed ex­pec­ta­tions are rare and are the stuff of trea­sured mem­o­ries.

Sim­coe Lit­tle Theatre will pro­vide in­sights on the ex­pe­ri­ence with its up­com­ing pro­duc­tion of The Christ­mas Ex­press.

Play­wright Pat Cook trans­ports us to the lit­tle town of Holly, a com­mu­nity sorely in need of hol­i­day spirit. Even the Christ­mas Ex­press hasn’t passed through their train sta­tion in years.

Hilda, the sta­tion man­ager played by Jami Cullen, has lost hope and is ex­pect­ing the ar­rival of an of­fi­cial to close them down. They are vis­ited in­stead by Leo, who is played by Joe Cal­laghan. Leo is a mys­te­ri­ous fel­low who quickly fills the town with hol­i­day cheer.

“We chose this play be­cause we re­ally thought our au­di­ence would en­joy it,” co-di­rec­tor Kelly McGivern said in a news re­lease.

“It is a beau­ti­ful play set in a small town at Christ­mas. It is about hope and spread­ing joy to those around us. The play has hu­mour as well as truly touch­ing mo­ments. Our cast is do­ing a spec­tac­u­lar job bring­ing the char­ac­ters and the story to life. I couldn’t be more ex­cited for au­di­ences to see this won­der­ful Christ­mas show.”

Other cast mem­bers in­clude Ja­cob McGivern, Sarah Finch, Kait­lyn Rich­man, John Dick­son, Alayna Simp­son, Rylea O’Toole, John Sher­man and Kaiden McGilly.

This is the fifth show Kelly McGivern and hus­band Randy McGivern have di­rected at SLT.

The long-time vol­un­teers have a tra­di­tion of mak­ing their theatre ex­pe­ri­ences a fam­ily af­fair. Their son Ja­cob plays the train sta­tion porter Satch.

As well, the McGivern’s son Mitchell helped with au­di­tions and some re­hearsals. Mitch McGivern’s girl­friend Rylea O’Toole plays Donna Fay and Kelly McGivern’s dad, Mike, built the set.

“Christ­mas can be a time for peo­ple to re­flect on what is re­ally im­por­tant in their life,” says Randy McGivern. “For me, it is about spend­ing time with fam­ily and friends.”

Cook crafted The Christ­mas Ex­press with a heart-warm­ing mes­sage in mind.

Along the way, there is sus­pense: Will the towns­peo­ple dis­cover who Leo re­ally is? Will Hilda re­gain her Christ­mas spirit? The Christ­mas Ex­press an­swers these ques­tions and more in a hol­i­day pro­duc­tion that is ap­pro­pri­ate for all ages.

The Christ­mas Ex­press runs in three in­stal­ments from Nov. 15 through Dec. 2.

The first in­stal­ment is from Thurs­day, Nov. 15 through Sun­day, Nov. 18.

The se­cond in­stal­ment is from Thurs­day, Nov. 22 through Sun­day, Nov. 25.

The fi­nal run is from Thurs­day, Nov. 29 through Sun­day, Dec. 2.

The cur­tain goes up Thurs­day through Satur­day at 8 p.m. The three shows Sun­day are mati­nees be­gin­ning at 2 p.m.

Tick­ets can be re­served by call­ing 519-426-7620.

A train sta­tion can be a lonely place when The Christ­mas Ex­press passes you by. Sim­coe Lit­tle Theatre will stage the heart-warm­ing pro­duc­tion over three week­ends from Nov. 15 through Dec. 2. SLT/PHOTO

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