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WHS offers heartwarming tale in ‘A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail’

Cast members of the Worthington High School play "A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tale" are shown Tuesday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON — Christmas tales needn’t be long to be satisfying.

That’s precisely the case with “A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail,” an entertaining, hour-long show filled with fun, friends and music.

A 15-member cast of primarily Worthington High School students, under the direction of Jon Loy, will present the lovable production at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.

“This is a great children’s show with wonderful messages about friendship, helping one another, working together for a common cause and loving others unconditionally,” said Loy.

“You can be inspired by it, whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart.”

And who doesn’t love Winnie the Pooh?

That tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff — created in 1926 by author A.A. Milne — will be portrayed this week by sophomore Logan Immens.

Forest animals from the Hundred Acre Woods, along with Pooh and his pals — including Christopher Robin (junior Jacob Mills), Piglet (junior Kalea Appel), Rabbit (junior Katie O’Donnell), and Kanga (junior Neveah Schreiber), among others — team up to help the despondent Eeyore (junior A.J. Wass) locate his missing tail.

“It just disappears, and the goal is to find it before Christmas,” said Loy.

Although it’s not technically a musical, “A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail” sees Pooh and company singing songs including “Ol’ Gray Donkey,” “Think Yourself ‘Up,’” “Colors” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as they celebrate a special Christmas Eve complete with a party, presents, tree-decorating and baking — with honey, naturally.

“We have quite a young cast mixed in with some more experienced actors and technicians,” said Loy. “All the actors bring their characters to life in a really special way, and you come to love these character as they share their stories within the overall story.”

Loy credits his production team, which includes roughly 25 students in technical roles, with making the show a success.

“This show exceeds all expectations because of the wonderful help I’ve had to mount it,” said Loy.

A detailed set designed by Judie Wendt-Johnson depicts the Hundred Acre Wood in unique fashion, Loy mentioned.

“We use a couple of backdrops, and the whole color scheme Judie created is so perfect, cartoonish and children’s storybook-like,” he said.

“The set is entirely movable, and on one side are the houses of Pooh, Piglet, etc., and the opposite side is a living map of the Hundred Acre Wood.

“People will take the journey along with the characters as they hunt for Eeyore’s tail.”

Additional support came from Memorial Auditorium’s Mark Brodin and Tammy Makram, along with costume designer Pam Wendland.

“Pam’s costumes are darling,” credited Loy. “She’s done a nice job of capturing each character’s personality.”

Auditions for the play took place in late October, so Loy’s cast and crew have had about a month and a half to put together “A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail.”

At the final dress rehearsal, Prairie Elementary’s first-graders and the entire St. Mary’s student body will be present to provide the type of interactive feedback the cast has been craving.

“They’re excited to get the kids’ reactions,” assured Loy. “The students involved are very eager to present it to everyone.”

And while it’s not a lengthy show, Loy guarantees it is heartwarming and sure to delight audience members, whether they’re 4 or 94.

“It offers a positive, uplifting message for the times,” said Loy. “You can appreciate that, no matter your age.”

The WHS production of “A Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tail” takes place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St. Doors open one hour before each show, and patrons are urged to arrive early to secure tickets because all seats are reserved. District 518 activity passes will be honored, and District 518 students may attend free with their student IDs, but each attendee needs to obtain a ticket. Contact the box office at 376-9101 with questions.

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