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More than 'Magi': O. Henry tales blend into holiday play

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'An O. Henry Christmas'

What: In this play written by Howard Burman, a famous writer meets up with a group of homeless people on Christmas Eve and enlists them in acting out his tales, which include “The Gift of the Magi” and other stories of giving. It is presented by all for One productions, a faith-based theater company.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Nov. 9 and 10; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday and Nov. 11.
Where: Auditorium of the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza
Cost: Early bird discount tickets, available up to opening night, are $12, adults; $10, ages 60 and over; and $8, students and groups of 10 or more. At the door, tickets are $15, adults; $12, ages 60 and older; and $10, students. Reserve tickets by calling 622-4610.

Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:01 am

O. Henry may be best known for his Christmas tale “The Gift of the Magi,” but that is only one element of “An O. Henry Christmas,” presented by all for One productions, a faith-based theater company.

The play, written by Howard Burman, appealed to Lauren E. Nichols, afO artistic director and the director of this show, because, “I was looking for a seasonal play,” she said. “This caught my eye, and I'm and O. Henry fan.”

As she explains it, Burman's play is about a famous writer who meets up with some homeless people in New York City on Christmas Eve. He offers to tell them stories in exchange for them sharing food and warmth with him.

As he narrates the stories they come to life with the homeless people acting out the plays. One is the story of “The Gift of the Magi,” but the others are some of his lesser-known works. It becomes a series of plays within a play. Nichols said it is a “rather clever and interesting context for telling the stories.”

“The whole point of O. Henry's stories is they have a twist,” Nichols said. “The whole play has a twist to it, too.”

She didn't want to reveal too much, though, to avoid any spoilers.

Nichols described it as a nice piece for a small ensemble cast of eight. They each have to portray four different characters. She said there's a lot of humor in the show, and it's not complicated to follow, although “it's very wordy.” Because of a lot of what she calls “50-cent words,” she said it would be appropriate for ages 10 and up.

For Nichols, the play “reignites in this group of people the sense of Christmas as the season of giving. Each one does have the ability to give a gift,” she said, adding the stories illustrate sacrificial giving — giving without any thought of return.

She described it as a “nice little piece of theatrical magic.”