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"Southern Yuletide: A Celebration in Story and Song" 

When: Dec. 14-24 2011
The Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC) is giving the Bard a rest this holiday season and exploring material with origins a little closer to home, geographically and economically. TSC’s “Southern Yuletide: A Celebration in Story and Song” isn’t a single event but rather two stage adaptations of holiday classics — Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory and O. Henry’s Gift of the Magi — presented in rotating repertory at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Each performance will also include performances of Mark Twain’s “A Letter from Santa Claus” and Clement Clarke Moore’s “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and will end with what is being described as a “fun, cast-led Southern sing-along.”

Capote’s story about a little boy named Buddy and his elderly but childlike cousin Sook making fruitcakes, chopping down Christmas trees, and flying kites in rural Alabama during the Great Depression has been adapted for television twice, retooled for the stage, and turned into a full-blown musical. TSC is returning to the original source material so that audiences can hear every word.

Financial hardship is also a primary theme in “Gift of the Magi.” O. Henry’s well-known study in irony tells the story of Jim and Della, newlyweds who secretly sell their most prized possessions to buy Christmas gifts for one another.

“Southern Yuletide” has some Northwestern roots. It was developed in conjunction with Shakespeare Walla Walla in Washington and is directed by Stephanie Shine, who staged last season’s fantastic Romeo & Juliet at the Dixon.

— Chris Davis

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