W.H.A.T. production of ‘Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus,’ will feature performances by 4 local politicians

Matt Schirm photo

When the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company kicks off the holiday season with a family-friendly production of the classic “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus,” a play inspired by the letter 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote The New York Sun in 1897 to ask if Santa Claus really existed, a West Hudson mayor and three councilmembers will join the cast to play the parent of one of the characters.

The newspaper’s touching reply became one of the most reprinted editorial of all time.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy,” the editorial read, in part.

Directed by Alyssa Schirm, the cast features Jayla Mirassol as Virginia O’Hanlon; Joshua Belchior as Samuel O’Hanlon; Clint Vinacco as Father O’Hanlon; Audrey Shapiro as Mother O’Hanlon; David Mach as Francis Church; George Rex as Walter Gibson; Brooke Lynn Pulcine as Mary Lou Parker; Genevieve Lambo as Wendy Parker; John Patrick Munley appearing as the Post-Person and Soup Line Worker; along with ensemble members Sarah Hill, Victoria Gonzalez and Riley Bennett.

Mary Lou’s parent will be played by four local politicians — Kearny Councilwoman Eileen Eckel (Dec. 10); Harrison Councilman Larry Bennett (Dec. 11); Kearny Council President Carol Jean Doyle (Dec. 17); and East Newark Mayor Dina Grilo (Dec. 18).

Performances are Dec. 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11 & 18 at 2 p.m. at the East Newark Recreation Center, 44 Central Ave., East Newark. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students and senior citizens, and are on sale now at www.whatco.org. Tickets may be available at the door.

Following each performance, children and families from the audience are invited to take their own photos during the theater’s no-touch socially distanced visit with Santa.

W.H.A.T. follows all current state and federal health guidelines. Facemasks and temperature checks will be required for all audience members at all performances and during the meet and greet with Santa.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.