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Washington Voices

Stage Shows Use Songs, Humor, Drama To Entertain, Enrich

Sat., Dec. 16, 1995

Looking through Valley church bulletins makes you wonder.

Is this the ‘burbs, or is this Broadway?

Well, granted, the Valley does have such an avenue. But this weekend the holiday season brings with it a slew of stage performances for folks of all ages. But unlike shows on that other Broadway, these productions are free.

The plays run the gamut, too, from sci-fi to serious. Redeemer Lutheran Church, 3606 S. Schafer Road, will present “Journey to the Center of Christmas” Sunday. Performances happen at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m.

The musical, written by Dennis and Nan Allen, is the story of four “space kids” who land on terra firma. Once here, they meet up with Professor J. Ingle Bell. He’s not Santa, but, hey, he has a degree.

The professor shows the pint-sized aliens all the Christmas traditions. Trees and tinsel. Gifts and giving. In the end, they learn what the season is really about.

“It’s really a play that explores all the traditions that we all do at Christmas time,” said director Lu Stocker. “It shows positive things about those, but says Christmas is much more than that.”

The cast is made up of 100 grade-school kids. Only half that number actually perform in each of the two showings, though. The play takes up two stages, and the backdrop features more than 2,000 lights.

Valley Assembly of God, 156618 E. Broadway, will stage “Greater than Gold” today at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 8:30 and 11 a.m. The play, written by Pearl Neilson, tells the Nativity story through the eyes of the innkeeper who didn’t have room for Joseph and Mary.

He has plenty of space for traveling big spenders. When shepherds show up to see the Christ child, the innkeeper says there couldn’t be anyone like that there.

According to director Debbi Johnson, the two-act play tells of the innkeeper’s spiritual about-face as he learns there’s something more precious than his bank account.

Valley Foursquare, 1226 N. Park Road, continues its “Christmas Crossroads” tonight and Sunday. Shows start at 7 p.m. each night.

The contemporary cantata is set in a shopping mall. Real people and real problems take center stage.

“It’s celebrating Christmas in the ‘90s,” said Erik Svendsen, music coordinator at the church. “It’s just kind of everyday life with people … their problems, everyday living, pressures and trying to celebrate Christmas despite the garbage of commercialism.”

The just-penned work is another play by Dennis and Nan Allen, who seem to get around the Christmas circuit.

The children of Starr Road Baptist Church, 4620 N. Starr Road in Otis Orchards, will perform “The Christmas Story” Sunday at 6:30 p.m. The Rev. Ken Hien, the church’s pastor, said the musical features preschool and grade school students.

No aliens or malls in this one. The play tells the traditional story of the Nativity.

Valley Alliance Church, 11111 E. 16th, will present its annual Christmas program Sunday at 6 p.m.

“It’s primarily a children’s program,” said the Rev. Donald Smithgall. “It’s not a play. It’s a lot of singing and that sort of thing.”

All kids are invited.

Hungry for food instead of drama and music? Opportunity Presbyterian Church, 202 N. Pines Road, will have a chili feed Sunday at noon. Church spokeswoman Jane Hussey said people need only bring their appetite - the event is free.

Afterward, diners can choose between going on a caroling trip or learning new craft ideas.

, DataTimes

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