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The Suburbanite
  • On the Beat: ‘Old-Fashioned Canton Christmas’ is big draw

  • A holiday musical revue, “Old-Fashioned Canton Christmas” includes scenes from the films “A Christmas Story,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Elf.” Songwise, there are huge group numbers all the way down to some touching and moving soloists.

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  • Sixteen motorcoaches carrying more than 650 tourists will be heading to downtown Canton’s Palace Theatre Saturday for two performances of the holiday pageant, “Old-Fashioned Canton Christmas.” Now in its fifth year, the show will be performed at 2 and 7 p.m. More than 1,200 tickets already have been sold for the matinee.
     “Tourists are coming from all over Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, they’re going to Christkindl, they’re eating and shopping here, a couple of buses are staying overnight,” said Marci Saling Lesho, co-creator of this year’s show, a North Canton Playhouse production.
     A holiday musical revue, “Old-Fashioned Canton Christmas” includes scenes from the films “A Christmas Story,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Elf.” Songwise, “there are huge group numbers all the way down to some touching and moving soloists,” Lesho said. A certain crowd-pleaser is the 109-voice Amherst Elementary Choir. Also performing will be the 35-member Majestic Voice Choir, featuring members of Larry Wilgus’ now-defunct holiday choir. There are 45 additional cast members.
     Lesho admits that Nov. 10 is early for a big Christmas show, but explained, “It’s at the time crux when people are still getting really excited about Christmas but aren’t already annoyed by it.”
     Tickets, $25, are on sale at the Palace box office, 330-454-8172, and www.cantonpalacetheatre.org.
    WELL DONE!
     Sam Shepard’s play “Buried Child” is an exceptionally challenging piece of work to pull off and definitely not for all audiences. Surreal, absurd, affecting and startling, it tells the story of a dysfunctional Illinois farm family whose disconnected members are in existential free-fall.
     The audacious current production of “Buried Child” at Kent State Stark campus is laudably performed by a mostly student cast under the inspired direction of Brian Newberg. There is unexpected and frequent hilarity from energetic actor Jim Viront, as the crusty, drunken father who lives on the shabby sofa. Jacki Dietz is scarily commanding as his headstrong, motormouthed wife.
    All of the other cast members — notably, Sarah Peters, David Sponhour and Anthony Antoniades — are effective. The evocative set and lighting design by Louis Williams, and costumes by Susan Blurton, help tell the dark story.
    Remaining performances are at 8 p.m. today and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Kent State Stark Theatre. Tickets, $10 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens, are available at the door. Local theater this daring and vital deserves to be supported.
    PHOTOGRAPHER-ADVENTURER
    In connection with his current exhibition at Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery, photographer (and North Canton native) Stephen McNulty will share stories of his international adventures at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the gallery at 2645 Cleveland Ave. NW. After surviving the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he was studying bio-security, McNulty traveled to Japan immediately after the catastrophic tsunami that destroyed the Miyagi province. He then explored Borneo, Thailand and Cambodia. Vivid color and black-and-white images from all of these journeys are included in his gallery show.
    Page 2 of 2 - ALL-ACCESS SCROOGE
    The Players Guild is offering a new interactive experience this year to fans of its long-running holiday production, “A Christmas Carol.” On Dec. 8 and 15 at 12:30 p.m., Ebenezer Scrooge himself (played by Don Jones) will lead a backstage tour, including the show’s history, its costumes and its stage magic. A Christmas luncheon with Victorian fare will follow, leading up to a 2 p.m. “Christmas Carol” performance. Tickets are $40.
    “A Christmas Carol,” the guild’s original musical version composed by Steve Parsons, runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 16, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, $25 for adults, $23 for seniors and $19 for ages 17 and younger, may be ordered at www.playersguildtheatre.org and 330-453-7617.  
    TROPICS IN CLEVELAND
    Hard to believe but it’s been two full decades since the popular Rainforest attraction opened at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. In celebration of this two-story indoor tropical oasis, which is especially enticing in wintertime, the zoo is hosting a 20th anniversary celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 17 through 19. There will be animal demonstrations, crafts, music, giveaways, meet-the-keeper sessions, and on Nov. 19 admission will be free. Incidentally, the Rainforest, where it is 80 degrees year-round, is home to more than 10,000 plants and 600 animals including a two-toed sloth, anteater, fruit bats and a fishing cat. For more information, visit www.clemetzoo.com or call 216-661-6500.