Penn State Shenango to present 'How the Grouch Saved Christmas'

SHARON, Pa. — The Penn State Shenango Drama Club will present an original musical this holiday season titled "How the Grouch Saved Christmas." Designed to appeal to children of all ages, the show playfully weaves pop cultural references to "The Minions," "Star Wars," princesses, Legos, and much more into a story that is ultimately heartwarming. The musical will launch with an evening performance at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, in the Penn State Shenango Auditorium, 147 Shenango Ave. in Sharon (across from the Sharon Post Office). There will also be two matinees at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6.

The show blends fantasy, comedy and heart to make this a perfect Christmas treat for the whole family. Set in a toy store at Christmas, the musical focuses on the magic of Christmas and the desire of families to get together and share love and joy, even if the holiday nowadays seems to start at Halloween.

As the big day draws closer, more and more toys are on display in the store, and they begin to forge friendships among themselves. The toys desire to go to boys and girls who will make them part of their families, but the longer they go unsold, the more they realize that they are not the brand-name toys that everybody seems to want.

One toy, a stuffed dog named Clarence, urges the others not to get their hopes up too high, for he was bought the year before and then returned to the store somewhat the worse for wear. During songs sung by the “gimmie” kids, the other toys begin to think that Clarence might be right. By the end, however, the magic of Christmas has prevailed, and everyone’s dreams come true.

An example of the inventiveness of the story is the introduction of Spudkins as characters: a cross between the Minions and Mr. Potato Head.

“We knew we wanted some mischief makers as characters, and we thought of the Minions, of course. But we gave our three troublemakers their own twist by making them red-skinned potatoes wearing bib overalls. Finally we gave each of them an individual rap song as an introduction, since baked potatoes often come ‘wrapped’ in foil,” explained Jeanne Zingale, instructor in communication and theater at Penn State Shenango and the show’s director.

"How the Grouch Saved Christmas" was written by Zingale and four students—Katherine Shacklock, Peggy Murphy, Joyce Howard and Maika Taladua—this past summer. The musical accompaniment is provided by Liz Howe of West Middlesex on the piano.

After the show, an interactive period is planned, including complimentary snacks, the opportunity to talk to and take a picture with Santa, and an informal sing-along with some well-loved Christmas-themed songs.

Admission is $8 for adults; $7 for students and senior citizens; and free for children 4 and under, with $1 off any paid admission with the donation of a nonperishable item for the Community Food Warehouse. All children under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult. All admissions are sold at the door and are general admission seating.

A basket raffle with many wonderful prizes and a 50/50 drawing will also be conducted during the run of the show, with proceeds going to the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County.

For more information and special arrangements for groups of 10 or more, contact the Office of Student Affairs, 724-983-2836.