Wednesday, November 18, 2015

KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL in world premiere at Olmsted Falls Performing Arts

It’s that time of year when local theatres fill their stages with holiday cheer.  Yes, it’s the season of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, A CHRISTMAS STORY, A CHRISTMAS STORY: THE MUSICAL, WHITE CHRISTMAS, and ELF THE MUSICAL. 

If Maria Ciampi and Tim Janis have their way, after a Broadway run, there should be a new musical holiday treat available for production: KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL, which will get its world premiere at the Olmsted Falls Performing Arts Center.  The staging will run from December 4 through the 13th.  

The story tells the untold tale of Kris Kringle, a jobless toy maker.  It reveals what happens when an evil toy company CEO crosses paths with a jobless toy maker whose family name carries a curse with the power to destroy Christmas.

It is based on Maria Ciampi’s screenplay and book, KRIS KRINGLE.

Marie Ciampi, the author of the book, is a legal author, law school professor and legal practitioner.  It is not surprising, therefore, that KRIS KRINGLE involves an ancient contract, and one of the world’s most famous lawyers, Daniel Webster.  Ironically, Ciampi was born on Christmas Day.

The music for the production is by Tim Janis, who has two #1 Billboard charting CD’s and has worked with top artists in the music and entertainment business, including Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, and Ray Charles.

Janis, in a recent interview, shared that, although he has written and performed classical and pop compositions, his “first love is writing musicals.”  His RUTH, based on the biblical book of the same name, played for two years at the Sight and Sound Theatre in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.  His musical movie, THE BUTTON GIRL, starring Dick Van Dyke, will aired this December on PBS.

His writing process?  He “reads the story, gets a vision in his mind, and then starts to write.”  Sometimes it’s the lyrics which come first, sometimes it’s the music.

How close is KRIS KRINGLE to being finished?  “It’s really never done until it opens.  There is always tweaking.”  He indicated that as of two weeks before opening, “the bulk is there.”  “I’ll be available for alterations as the rehearsals proceed.” 

Janis will not be in Cleveland for rehearsals.  He’ll be in his recording studio, ready to make any changes needed.  The director and musical director will interface with the actors, and make suggestions of what, if anything, needs to be altered in the music or the words.

Janis, whose philosophy is, “Music can be more than entertainment,” has developed the Music with a Mission project, with the purpose of “encouraging an understanding and cognizance between different people and cultures.”  He brought Sinkithemba, the all-female HIV-positive South African choir to the U.S to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic in that country, performed a series of concerts in China to bridge communication between the two countries, and is leading the Music In Our Schools volunteer program, which has had more than 30,000 children participating.  He also has worked with the Cleveland Clinic in their music therapy program.

KRIS KRINGLE will be directed by Pierre Brault, the co-founder and Artistic Director of Mercury Theatre Company, housed at Notre Dame College in South Euclid,  and Resident Director of Virginia Musical Theatre in Virginia Beach, VA.  Charles Eversole, the Artistic Director of Cleveland’s The Singing Angels, is the musical director. 

Equity cast members include Mack Shirilla, Amy Fritsche, Michael Mauldin, Maryann Nagel, Kristin Netzband and Greg Violand.

Interested in seeing KRIS KRINGLE in its local “before going to Broadway” showing?  Tickets can be purchased through the Olmsted Performing Arts Center by calling 440-235-6722.  To see the schedule of performances go to