‘A Very Perry Christmas’ to open Dec. 13

Photo courtesy Bill Hudson
Perry Davis Harper, creator and musical co-director for the upcoming Thingamajig Theatre Company production “A Very Perry Christmas,” rehearses with several of the youngsters who will lend their voices and high energy to the family-friendly show, opening Dec. 13 and running through Dec. 24 at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts.

By Bill Hudson
Special to The PREVIEW
Fifteen ambitious young singers have begun warming up their voices and improving their vocal technique in preparation for the upcoming Thingamajig Theatre Company holiday show, “A Very Perry Christmas,” under the direction of the show’s creator — actor and vocalist Perry Davis Harper.
Said Mila Miller, one of the young performers: “I started singing when I was 4 years old … it’s just been a big part of my life. I performed in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ when I was 4, and then I was in ‘Annie’ here at Thingamajig, and it was really fun. That’s how I got into theatrical stuff …”
The young performers include Kimberly Beasley, Jenavieve Betts, Karina Brown, Rayleen Hamilton, Christian Gonzalez, Daniel Gonzalez, Gabriel Gonzalez, Chance Hurt, Lucille Kleckner, Miller, Evie Welsh-Rhodes, Gemma Slingerland, Janzen Tuggle-Rapp, Bella Werby and Hannah Woodhall.
Explained Tuggle-Rapp: “I did my first play here at the Center for the Arts two years ago — ‘Willy Wonka’ — and my part was as an Oompa Loompa. But before that, I was always acting out around the house and my parents — with all the stuff that I do — they said, ‘We have to get him into acting.’ And they say that still to this day!
“So this is my second time with Thingamajig, and I’m really excited about ‘A Very Perry Christmas’ …”
This Christmas-themed show was conceived by director Harper as a family-friendly celebration of all the various musical aspects of the Christmas season, supported by a compact orchestra including saxophonist Bob Hemenger — who is co-directing the music — plus pianist Taryn Palmer, drummer Greg Booher, guitarist Will Spears and bassist James Kiker. The adult vocalists will include Harper Davis, Amy Harper, Johanna Laverty, Cassidy Giddens, Jesse McFarland, Jessi Miller and Hemenger.
“I have always been a big fan of music,” said Betts. “My first play was in kindergarten … and then I did ‘Mission Moo Shu’ [written by Thingamajig staffer Tyler Price] here at Thingamajig, and that was really fun … we did a whole bunch of songs, like ‘Planet Janet’ and ‘Do Re Mi’ — songs that we really liked …”
In “A Very Perry Christmas,” the kids will be featured on classic Christmas season songs like “Away in a Manger,” “Feliz Navidad” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” as well as novelty numbers like “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”
“I sometimes feel embarrassed when I sing in front of people,” said Welsh-Rhodes, “For some reason. I don’t know, I guess it’s just something I’m going through … But when I’m singing in a group like this … I basically know everyone in the group now …”
Harper’s holiday production is part of Thingamajig Theatre Company’s 2019-2020 winter season, which kicked off in October with “Men on Boats” and continues into January with “A Grand Night for Singing” and “The Texas Homecoming Revolution of 1995.”
Explained Werby, “I’ve been in several plays at the Center — ‘Annie’, ‘Mission Moo Shu’, ‘Seussical’ — and I used to be in a choir for a year, but the director retired. I also do skits at home; that’s one of my favorite things …
“I feel like, whenever I sing and perform, it makes other people happy … and it makes me happy …”
“A Very Perry Christmas” opens on Dec. 13 and runs through Dec. 24 at the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Tickets are available on the pagosacenter.org website or by calling 731-7469.
Thingamajig Theatre Company is an award-winning professional 501(c)(3) theater company in residence within the Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts. Its talented actors, directors and designers come from across the U.S. and around the world to produce musicals, comedies and dramas year-round.

This story was posted on December 4, 2019.