2017-12-07 / Living

“The Match Girl’s Gift:”

A play about hope and strength
BY TANYA TERRY
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com


Atherton Jr./Sr. High students rehearse a scene in “The Match Girl’s Gift” in which Edward and Katherine talk about raising their son, Henry, who is being disciplined, while Lizzy keeps him company. Pictured are Melina Smith (as Katherine, the mother), AJ Forster (as Edward, the father), Ash Kathleen (as Lizzie, the match girl) and David Rochester (as Henry, the son) left to right. 
Photo by Tanya Terry Atherton Jr./Sr. High students rehearse a scene in “The Match Girl’s Gift” in which Edward and Katherine talk about raising their son, Henry, who is being disciplined, while Lizzy keeps him company. Pictured are Melina Smith (as Katherine, the mother), AJ Forster (as Edward, the father), Ash Kathleen (as Lizzie, the match girl) and David Rochester (as Henry, the son) left to right. Photo by Tanya Terry BURTON — A version of “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson, author of “The Little Mermaid” and “The Snow Queen,” which Frozen was based on, is being presented at a local high school.

The timeless Christmas story, “The Match Girl’s Gift,” will be featured at 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Atherton Jr./Sr. High School.

The plot of the play is about a poor girl in the Gilded Age who has to sell matches in order to survive. She has only one friend in the world, a chimney sweep who is struggling just as well. On Christmas Eve, the girl is visited by her Gran, who has passed away, and is given the gift of three waking dreams to visit the place she most wanted to go. In these dreams, she must help the high-class family which is falling apart. She must show them a heart that can give.

“Our show is unique because it puts a little bit of a censored twist on the original and it also provides some historical background,” said AJ Forster, 17, who plays Edward, the father.

Shelli Hester Hyde, English, drama and special education teacher at Atherton Jr./ Sr. High said the play has the poignant historical context of New York during the Gilded Age, between the 1870s-1900s, where sadly many poor children were literally starving and working themselves to death, and it stresses thinking about and helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves; true spirit of Christmas.

David Rochester, age 16, who plays Henry said he feels people will be able to relate to this production whether it being through Henry the rich kid that doesn’t have a strong connection with his dad, or Elizabeth, the street child, because she lives on the streets.

Hester Hyde and her husband, Steve Hester have been working hard as technical directors to create a shared version of the indoor/outdoor set of a Victorian brownstone building, along with Nikki Soper, another Atherton teacher.

“This is not an easy task,” Hester Hyde said. “It is also always a challenge to light our shows with such limited equipment, but we embrace a challenge! I think it will definitely have a wintery festive feel. It will be a beautiful set!”

Two songs will be sung: “Now the Wintertime is Neigh” and “Just for Walls.”

“I feel like the people who see the play will truly enjoy each song, due to the emotion and the beauty of the them,” said Ash Kathleen, 16, who plays Lizzie, the match girl.

Tickets will be available at the door for $3 or $10 per family, and donations will be accepted.

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