By Christopher Smith
In 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York Sun asking if Santa Claus was real. The newspaper responded with the now famous editorial that concluded, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
O’Hanlon’s story was dramatized into “Yes, Virginia,” an animated special sponsored by Macy’s Inc. first airing on CBS in 2009. Three years later, Macy’s adapted the special to a one-hour stage musical that will be performed by Valley Point Middle School students tonight at 7.
Valley Point is one of 100 schools in the nation to receive a $1,000 Yes, Virginia The Musical Grant to fund the royalty-free production.
“We applied for the grant earlier this year,” Carol Burchfield, a retired Valley Point teacher who was asked to direct the musical, said. “It’s interesting to see kids in our cast who have never done a show. They’re doing a very good job. I think this would be a great holiday experience for people to come out and watch.”
The school received guidelines from Macy’s officials to help in the production, Burchfield said.
“They sent us details on how to do the whole thing,” she said. “They gave details on how to do the set and costumes. Of course, they made sure we knew they’re not putting stipulations on how to use the money in the play.”
Anything purchased through the grant will stay with the school, Burchfield said, which includes new microphones, props and costumes.
“It really is a great grant,” she added. “We will do something for children who might not normally participate or see musical theater. That’s what I love about it coming to Valley Point. As far as I know, the musical is not playing anywhere else nearby. There’s only a handful of schools selected in the state.”
The students performed the musical for students at Dug Gap Elementary and Valley Point before tonight’s performance.
Burchfield said she is happy to direct the musical, having found her love for children’s theater at the Artistic Civic Theatre where she has done fall productions for 18 years.
The play is intended for ages 8-11, the ages of the characters in the story. For more information on the musical, visit yesvirginiamusical.com or call (706) 277-9662.