December 11, 2010 11:46:00 PM
Amahl, a young crippled boy, has a vivid imagination and a habit of telling stories. So, when he tells his mother of a star like no other he has ever seen, she doesn''t believe him. And when he answers a knock at the door, only to find three kings outside, she doesn''t believe him then either, at least at first.
As the story unfolds, "Amahl and the Night Visitors," a one-act light opera by Gian Carlo Menotti, tells a story of need, mercy, grace and healing.
First United Methodist Church will present Menotti''s one-hour work, all in song, Dec. 18-19 in its sanctuary at 602 Main St., Columbus. Performances will be at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, and at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19.
The cast includes Amahl and his mother, the kings and their page, and a chorus of shepherds.
The role of Amahl will be played by Jonathan Morris and Jacob Swartz. The role of the mother will be played by Cherry Dunn, Katy Henshaw and Jennifer Locke.
Sam Morris, Shannon Barton, Nephi Sanchez and Chris O''Rear fill the roles of the kings. Bryson Robinson will portray the page.
Doug Browning is music director. Accompanists will be James O. Allen and Nancy Kennedy.
O''Rear, who is also artistic director, said, "While this is a Christmas production in nature, a lot of its dynamics and emotions transcend and speak to the power of giving; that''s what really moves me especially about this. We see the power of grace, not just from a religious perspective, and the power of giving."
One of the challenges of a production like this, Browning noted, is training boys early on to be able to take on a role such as Amahl. There is great reward in watching them grow into the character.
"This is very intense work for boys of this age," said Browning.
The whole family
The program, commissioned by NBC and first performed on that network in 1951, will appeal to audiences of all ages.
"I first remember seeing it when I was only 10 years old; I''d definitely recommend it for children," said church and choir member Elizabeth Swartz.
One of the most rewarding aspects, Browning and Swartz agree, is to be able to share "Amahl and the Night Visitors" for the first time with many who have never seen it before.
"One of the most interesting parts about ''Amahl,'' we have found, is that the music itself is a character. It helps color our imagination," Swartz said.
How to go
There is no charge to attend any of the four performances, but tickets to ensure seating are strongly recommended and can be picked up at the church office at 602 Main St.
For more information, contact FUMC at 662-328-5252.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.