Finding the spirit of Christmas on the third row

Dennis Warden

Christmas time can be hectic and busy with gifts to purchase, friends and family to see plus extra strain at work. It’s no different for those of us at Warden Publishing. In case you didn’t notice last week, between all three of our publications, we designed, printed and distributed 112 pages — but who’s counting. 

That’s over twice as many pages in a normal week.

Needless to say it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit with all of this stress and pressure. One can easily lose sight and forget the reason for the season, becoming a ‘Scrooge.

That changed for Connie and I on Dec. 16 thanks to our good friends Steve and Elaine Hobein. 

“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.” 

The opportunity presented itself six months ago, when the Hobeins invited us to join them to see a musical at the Lyceum Theater in Arrow Rock. We accepted.

If anyone would have suggested the week before, even the month before, that I take a day off two days before deadline on the largest paper of the year my answer would have been “bah, humbug.”

But when you commit to something six months in advance it’s easier to block that time and prepare for it.

For a little back story — I am a great admirer of the arts. Specifically live theater and music. My favorite being musicals.

My first experience with live theater was when I played Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

It’s been a while, but I have probably been in just over a half dozen local plays, many of them musicals. Now days I usually enjoy local theatrical productions from behind the lens of my Nikon camera.

Once in a blue moon we enjoy a production at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. When the children were much younger we always tried to take them to the Muny at Forrest Park once a year.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor,” and that is what we experienced two Sundays ago as we sat on the third row, just 15 feet away from the stage and enjoyed
“A Christmas Carol.

In case you were worried about what a theater performance would be like in a town with a population of 56, let me put your concerns to rest.

What we experienced at the Lyceum Theater was professional caliber entertainment in an intimate setting for an audience of just 416. There were no bad seats.

The play we saw was a wonderful production with amazing costumes and beautiful holiday music. We saw the Ghost of Christmas Present rise out of the floor and other scenes glide seamlessly across the stage. 

Here are two examples of the quality actors we were impressed by. Ebenezer Scrooge was played by Don Richard who hales from Chicago. His acting career includes being part of the original casts of Jane Eyre and Urinetown on Broadway. 

The Ghost of Christmas Past was Laura Sexauer, a California based artist, musician and yoga instructor.

To see the 1 p.m. showing of Anastasia at the Fabulous Fox this coming Sunday will set you back from $61 per seat to a whopping $523 — way out of my league.

The price for any seat at the Lyceum is advertised at just $39, with discounts for senior citizens, students and young children.

Tickets at the Muny, where you can see great theater with 11,000 of your closest friends, can range from $83 to $216. If you want tickets in Terrace C, they are available for $15. At the Lyceum that was about the distance from the stage where we parked our car two blocks away.

The Lyceum Theater, one of Missouri’s oldest professional regional theaters, is well worth the drive. We will go back again. I encourage you to also.

As you read this column the Ghost of Christmas Present has visited us and left for another year. 

May we honour Christmas in our hearts and keep it during the coming year, and as Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one.”