An Indianapolis venue is giving reader’s theater a new, little twist — and a well-known local resident is a part of the holiday fun.
Actress, singer and writer Jan Lucas will participate in the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center of Indianapolis’ virtual program “Season’s Readings,” featuring area actors reading online some of their favorite, seasonal children’s stories, ranging from “Frosty the Snowman” to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” The program is in cooperation with the Indianapolis Public Library.
Lucas is expected to tape her segment Monday at her farmhouse home near Columbus. It is expected to be online Jan. 8.
The producers are hoping for snow for an especially seasonal backdrop. Also because the book she will be reading is “Snow,” by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman, about everything from sledding to snowball fights.
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“I absolutely love reading books to children because they’re such a great audience,” Lucas said.
She first did a story time presentation at Columbus’ Viewpoint Books years ago in the Commons Mall, and fell in love with such an activity and became a reader at her children’s school. She’s partial to Dr. Seuss, if she had to choose. So it’s fitting that the famous author edited the book she will share.
“I think it’s a great way to do outreach for families who are home and understandably trying to keep their kids entertained, educated and engaged,” Lucas said.
Phoenix’s leadership feels the same.
“As we conclude what most of us would describe as a tumultuous and trying year, bringing artists and audiences together to celebrate illustrated children’s books seems like a lovely way to bring us a little closer together as we head into 2021,” said Bill Simmons, artistic director of the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre who will also perform “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” “Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, you’ll not want to miss these fun, one-of-a-kind performances by some of Indy’s most amazing actors.”
Scheduled to appear in the series is a wide range of noted and award-winning actors who have graced Indy’s stages.
Milicent Wright tells the story written by Newbery Honor-winning author Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney about a little girl, Nella, sharing the best gift in “The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll.”
Ben Asaykwee brings to life the LGBTQ-inclusive story of Peter celebrating his colorful feathers in The Enchanted Page Book Award-winner “A Peacock Among Pigeons.”
Comedic actor John Vessels, Broadway World’s 2019 Regional “Best Actor in a Play,” presents his twist on Dr. Seuss’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Adrienne Reiswerg reads “Hanukkah Haiku,” a book praised by the Jewish Book Council for its “exquisitely illustrated…Chagall-like” paintings that “capture the joy and excitement of Hanukkah.”
Similarly, Josiah McCruiston’s will present his personally-selected story “Santa’s Kwanzaa.”
“One of the best gifts you can give a child is the love of books,” said Jackie Nytes, chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Public Library. “We hope this Season’s Readings storytelling series helps ignite that spark in children throughout Indianapolis this holiday season.”
Information and schedule: phoenixtheatre.org