mystery. And next week, the stage version of Baum's story -- "The
Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" -- will unfold at the Laguna
"In 1902, [Baum] imagined how Santa Claus became the legendary
figure we all know and love," explained Joe Lauderdale, the
playhouse's Youth Theater director, who's staging the musical
production. "The tale he wrote introduces readers to a fantasy world
called the Forest of Burzee, inhabited by Immortals.
"When a human child is captured by an evil tribe, Necile, a wood
nymph, rescues him and is given permission to keep the young Claus
and raise him as her own," Lauderdale adds. "Never before was a
mortal allowed into the land of the Immortals, and the child grows up
among these caretakers of the human world.
Since Claus is not an immortal, the story goes, he becomes curious
about his human origins and is given the opportunity to learn about
their world. "What Claus experiences is a life-changing event,"
according to Lauderdale.
"When he sees how poorly children are treated, how they are
expected to work all the time without any fun and how they have
nothing to play with, Claus discovers his true mission in life -- to
bring joy to children everywhere," the director declares.
His good works spread worldwide, and the mantle of immortality is
bestowed upon him. It's a tale full of fairy lore, the classic battle
of good versus evil and a unique explanation of Christmas traditions.
To transform Baum's prose into children's theater, Greg Atkins
adapted the story and added lyrics, to which musical director Diane
King Vann supplied the melody. The youth production also will feature
choreography by Ellen Prince and fight direction by Todd Loweth.
"The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" will be presented at 7:30
p.m. Fridays; 2 and 7:30 Saturdays; and 1 and 5 p.m. Sundays through
Dec. 19. Additional information is available by calling the theater
at (949) 497-2787.
The playhouse's Youth Theater has distinguished itself in the area
of presenting stage productions for children of all ages. Twice the
recipient of national awards from the American Alliance for Theater
and Education, the Youth Theater season attracts over 12,000
theatergoers every year.
* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Coastline Pilot.