Oswego Players Stages “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus”

In 1897, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was asked by his then eight-year-old daughter, Virginia O’Hanlon (1889–1971), whether Santa Claus really existed. O’Hanlon suggested she write to The Sun, a prominent New York City newspaper at the time, assuring her that “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” In so doing, Dr. O’Hanlon had unwittingly given one of the paper’s editors, Francis P. Church, an opportunity to rise above the simple question and address the philosophical issues behind it.

 The play, “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” will be presented by the Oswego Players this December. Inspired by that simple, poignant letter written over 100 years ago by 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon to the editor of the New York Sun, the play recounts the circumstances surrounding the letter and the timeless editorial response printed on the front page of the Sun. Virginia wondered and wrote: “Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says if you see it in the Sun, it’s so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?” Ed Mitchell, the Sun‘s editor, gives the assignment of answering Virginia’s letter to Frank Church who, until his wife and baby died last Christmas Eve, was the Sun‘s best and most dependable reporter. “Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” is a play for young and old, magically reaffirming life’s highest beauty and joy, “the eternal light with which childhood fills the world.”

The cast of the play, directed by Jenn Snow includes, Payne Horning, Jonathan Altman, Pablo Mendoza, Don DelPriore, Thi Huynh, Lana Hsu, Rose Snow, Ledger Natoli-Bourdon, Marianne Natoli, Stephanie Johnson, Noah Pauldine, Inez Parker, Jennifer Waugh, Jesse Pauldine, Sean Fox, Ed Lewis, Bobby Fontana, Pete Mahan, Jonathan Tsutsumishita, Jon Alex Pauldine, Brienna Pauldine, Cameron Waugh, Mariah Pepper, Michael Moss, Nicholas Cock, Rachel Snow, Caden Victory, Elizabeth Hobbs.

The play will be presented for two weekends in December, on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2, 3, 9 10 at 8 pm and Sunday, Dec. 4 and 11 at 2 pm. The Frances Marion Brown Theater in the Oswego Civic Arts Center at Fort Ontario is a drop off point for toys for the Toys For Tots campaign. This is the second year the Oswego Players have participated in the program. For ticket reservations for “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” contact the Players’ box office at 343-5138.

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Some of the cast members of the upcoming Oswego Players’ holiday production of “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” take a break from rehearsal for a photo. Show in the back from row from left to right: Michael Moss, Jennifer Waugh, Marianna Natoli, Pablo Mendoza, Cameron Waugh, Stephanie Johnson and Jonathan Altman. In the front from left to right: Ellizabeth Hobbs, Ledger Natoli-Bourden, Thi Huynh, Rose Snow and Lana Hsu. The play will be presented in the Frances Marion Brown Theater of the Oswego Civic Arts Center this December. For tickets call the Players’ box office at 343-5138.