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Find your holiday spirit at Lee Street’s play festival

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

What you’ll find under the tree at the ninth annual 10-Minute Play Festival is a few laughs, a couple of awww moments, and some real characters.

Lee Street theatre’s collection of little plays, sponsored by Bob and Laura Williamson, is a light one. A couple of the little plays carry the true message of Christmas, a couple are just silly.

The first one, “Star of Wonder” combines humor and the message that a baby has been born under that bright star. The joke is a woman (Bina), played by Eve Phillips, comes looking for water because her hapless husband, Gaspar, and their worthless camel have gotten them lost. She doesn’t get why he wants to find the barn under the star, but young Levona, played by Morgan Warren, does get it and wants to go. Mother Noa, played by Amber Wilson, tries to stand in her way. Andy Rassler is the playwright and Peyton Glendinning directs.

In “Trimmed to Nothingness,” Steven D. Miller writes about a very imaginative family. Again, the message is the true meaning of Christmas — being together and loving each other. Austin Young plays Andrew, Megan’s new boyfriend. Megan, played by Beth Bentley, has not explained to him that their Christmas traditions are … unusual. But Mr. and Mrs.Dougherty, David Steelman and Alice Rich, draw him in to their traditions and try to make him feel at home. It’s quirky, but sweet. Trey Irby directs.

“Thanks But No Thanks” takes on a British flair as a couple, Egbert and Janetta, played by Craig Kolkebeck and Kindra Steenerson, argue about thank-you notes for gifts they don’t want and how it could be easier with a new tag system. Kolkebeck and Steenerson also directed the play written by Roy Proctor, a bit of silliness about manners.

Bill Greene’s “The Neglected Elf” is not quite a play, as a Snowman (Mike Cline) narrates most of the action about a poor Elf on the shelf, played by Austin Young, who gets stuck in a house where the Christmas spirit is gone and a sweet little girl has turned into a snarly teen-ager. Young does some convincing physical activity that mimics the floppy doll. Linda Hughes is the Barbie that a mean uncle forces to play with the elf. The kindly snowman is happy to report a happy ending. Glendinning also direct this play.

“Bare Necessities” has the air of “Calendar Girls” behind it, as four Red Hat ladies try to decorate a Christmas tree to benefit a battered woman’s shelter. Absent-minded Bea, played by Theresa Pitner, is corrected often by assertive Cleo, played by Eve Phillips. Winsome Esther with the silent H is the sweet one, thanks to Winnie Mikkelson. Claudia Galup is leader Amelia, who is having a little fun at Bea’s expense. But the ladies find the perfect theme for the Christmas tree. Playwright and author Jenny Hubbard wrote this one, which is directed by Kindra Steenerson.

Finally, Tom Bennett’s “Christmas Boxes” features David and Julie, played by Chris Eller and Alice Rich again, arguing like an old married couple over the obvious thing that David did that he has no clue about. It turns into a touching little story with a happy ending. Irby also directs this one.

Irby and Glendinning are Catawba College students, part of the collaboration between Lee Street and the school

The patron’s night audience also got to see an acting showcase from Steenerson, who led an acting class. Hubbard, Bentley, Glaup, Gray Miller, Rich, Eller, Mikkelson, Watson and Bredon Engelskirchen and Sara Lee performed scenes from “The Other Place,” by Sharr White;

“4,000 Miles” by Amy Herzog; “Angels in America,” by Tony Kushner;

Enchanted April,” by Matthew Barber; and “Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them.”

Performances of the 10-Minute New Play Festival continue Dec. 8-10 at 7:30 p.m. at Lee Street. Tickets are $15 plus tax and available at www.leestreet.org or by calling 704-310-5507.

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