00 News & Updates, 2016 The Christmas Post

“Christmas Post” Closes Holiday Run


Union Street Players (USP), Pella’s award-winning community theatre, ended its six show run on Saturday afternoon. It was Director Wendy Vander Well’s third time at the helm of the holiday musical. She first directed the show at Third Church in Pella in 2001. Five years later, in 2006, she was tapped to produce the show for Union Street Players. The heart-warming musical, based on two Norman Rockwell paintings, tells the story of a World War II widow trying desperately to make enough commission at the local department store to buy her children the “special gifts” that will fulfill their Christmas wishes. With the help of an angelic newsstand owner, and the support of friends and co-workers, the widow overcomes a greedy store owner and hard-hearted Sales Manager and develops the faith needed to believe it will happen.

Along with Vander Well, the cast and crew included a few members (Dirk Ryals, Karen Ryals, Cal Van Ee, Brian Vande Lune, Lisa Vande Lune) who had participated in all three local productions, along with a host of others who had been in two of the three. As with most USP productions, the cast included seasoned veterans as well as newcomers, such as lead actresses Mia Andringa (Katie) and Elise Pederson (Alice), who were in their first USP production.

Attendance for the six show run:

Fri Dec 2: 225
Sat Dec 3: 242
Sun Dec 4: 289
Tue Dec 6: 154
Fri Dec 9: 249
Sat Dec 10: 220
Total: 1379

For veterans of the 2006 production of The Christmas Post, this year’s show tugged extra hard on the heart-strings, and it wasn’t just the sentimental storyline that elicited emotion. In the past 10 years USP has memorialized three of the cast members of the 2006 production who have since passed away: Mike Atkins (Accompanist), Randy Icenbice (Caroler), and Sherm Van Zee (Brother Sam).

Next up for USP:
Noises Off by Michael Frayn; Directed by Denise Gregory
Auditions Jan 12-14


2010 Annie

Strong Finish into the Holiday

The cast and crew finished strong last night before getting a much needed, and much deserved, Thanksgiving holiday. Last night was a “polishing” rehearsal for Act II. After running the Act, most of the production numbers were worked again, and again, and again, and again. We were happy to have Rachel Peter (one of our Annies) back with us after a quick battle with the flu.

Last night was interesting because it was the first time we ran costume changes in real time. In one scene I have about 90 seconds to get off stage, change into a tuxedo and be ready to walk back on stage. I barely made it last night and that was with missing a few minor accessories. Of course, I had it good compared to Annie Wignall (who plays Grace Farrell). She has two quick changes. At one point I caught sight of a saw a small army of women trying to help her make the change. Poor Grace was looking rather winded and rattled when she walked back on stage. Once the team gets the process down, it should go a little smoother (I hope). Even Annie has a quick change at the end. Poor Rachel came running out with her red curly Annie wig at the end of the show last week and the thing was hanging half off of the back of her head. A couple of actors tried unsuccessfully to tug it into place, which only made things worse. Oy! These are the things you hope you fix before opening night!

Despite the stress of changing costumes, the cast did a great job working hard, the orchestra sounded great, and the show is on schedule. We’ve had a couple of long nights. Thanks to everyone for their patience and positive attitude.

Costumes Get a Little Help Thanks to Facebook

When I was a theatre student at Judson College (now Judson University), we had a masterful and sweet costumer named Mary Beth. We were a small school with a small program, so the costume “shop” was literally a janitor’s closet under the staircase of the Fine Arts Building. That’s where you’d find Mary Beth with her ironing board and sewing needle 24/7.

Mary Beth still lives in the Chicago area, and when she read on my Facebook status that we were doing Annie, she wrote and offered to send us her costumes from a production of Annie she did in her area. We were only too glad to take her up on the offer, and three big boxes arrived via UPS a few days later.

It’s a personal thing, but it warms my heart to be on stage with Mary Beth’s costumes after all these years. A big thank you to her from all of the moms and other ladies who volunteered to help costume the kids in the show!!

Mea Culpa

I was informed last night that I have an old version of the cast list and some of the lists I’ve posted this past week were incomplete or incorrect. My sincere apologies to any cast member I left out, misspelled or mistook in any other fashion. I’ve been promised an updated list so I can make the necessary retractions and corrections.

Thanksgiving Wishes

On this Thanksgiving eve, I wish our Annie cast/crew and our extended USP family a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Eat well. Rest well. Love well.

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