With all of the changes brought on by the pandemic, the Mid Ohio Valley Players are grateful to be able to continue to bring family entertainment to the valley. This coming Friday, December 11th at 8:00 p.m., WMOVP Radio Theatre invites you to once again join them on Zoom free of charge, as the Andersons in Father Knows Best, help us remember the true spirit of Christmas. Jena Lane Blair, who plays Maggie Terrill, the shopkeeper who takes the Andersons in when they are stranded on Christmas Eve, explained, “I’m so happy to be a part of the Father Knows Best Christmas show. I think its message is as timely now as it was in 1953. It’s good to remember how important family are. I want to wish everyone a warm and wonderful Christmas.”

The show opens with the youngest members of the Anderson family making plans to spend Christmas Eve doing various activities and little Kathy asking for a pink Christmas tree from the lot downtown. Jim pines for Christmases past and decides it’s time to show his family what a real Christmas looks like.  What ensues promises to bring laughter and tears to audience members as even Jim discovers the spirit of Christmas is alive and well through the hospitality of strangers.

Not only does WMOVP provide an opportunity for the valley to see live theatre, it has been key in giving actors and technicians a chance to do theatre. This is the fourth installment of Father Knows Best that WMOVP has produced. It is an audience favorite and the stories have resonated with all involved. Jeff Walker said, “It’s a delight to reprise the role of Jim Anderson. More importantly, I’ve enjoyed these past months of doing social distance theatre. The creative outlet it provides, has been so important to all of us who miss working together on stage. I hope our enjoyment in doing the show translates to our viewers.” Sean Shoop, who plays Bud agrees, “I’ve loved being able to bring Bud to life these last nine months of socially distanced theatre and how this cast feels like a real family! No matter what’s going on or how busy I get, I can’t say no to coming back ‘Home.’”

Conceived nine months ago, Director Suzanne Walker got the idea when her employer Marietta College invited its employees to use their Zoom accounts to help the community stay connected. Walker explained, “What started out as an experiment to help fill the gap during a few weeks of stay at home orders, has become a labor of love. It was the can-do spirit that MOVP members exemplify that has brought us to where we are today. We have worked together to learn new acting techniques, we’ve found ways to use the technology to enhance our productions, and we had a great deal of fun together.” Beth Lane, sound designer and Announcer 2, agreed, “”The opportunities presented by MOVP, during these tough times have been wonderful. The socially distanced theatre opportunities have given new people the chance to take part in shows. I have enjoyed every moment with all of these wonderful people, and look forward to further involvement.”

With each production, the WMOVP Radio Theatre company has tried to give the audience something new to look forward to. “When we first started, we simply turned our cameras on and relied on voice and costumes to carry the scene. Then we discovered how to use backgrounds, worked on ways to suggest interaction between characters, and played with adding other visual elements. This week we are excited to add video clips to bring the scenes to life,” said Director Walker.

While the pandemic means this holiday will be unlike any other, and many families must forgo treasured traditions in order to stay safe, it does not mean, however, that the spirit of the season must disappear.  Jeff Walker agreed, “Just as we have discovered new ways to do theatre, may you find new ways to celebrate and creative ways to usher in this time of year.” The show will be rebroadcast on Christmas Eve at 8:00 p.m. as a Facebook premiere video on the Mid Ohio Valley Players, Inc. Facebook page. To view the performance live on Friday, Dec. 11 at 8:00 p.m., audience members can view through Zoom or call in to hear the audio at 301-715-8592 or 312-626-6799, Webinar ID: 936 2677 9110.