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Family fun, humor part of DPRCA holiday show

If you go What: "Junior Claus" production by Dakota Prairie Regional Council for the Arts When: Thursday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 18. There are no shows Thanksgiving weekend. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The Dakota Prairie Regional Council for the Arts'production of "Junior Claus" starts Thursday, Nov. 18. The cast includes, front from left, Elliott Schwab, Erin Greiner, Jon Johnson. Back from left Brenda Bachmeier, Kelsie Belquist, Jay Bauer, Jared Kolles, Katie Allmaras, Nikki Braaten.
The Dakota Prairie Regional Council for the Arts'production of "Junior Claus" starts Thursday, Nov. 18. The cast includes, front from left, Elliott Schwab, Erin Greiner, Jon Johnson. Back from left Brenda Bachmeier, Kelsie Belquist, Jay Bauer, Jared Kolles, Katie Allmaras, Nikki Braaten.

If you go

What: "Junior Claus" production by Dakota Prairie Regional Council for the Arts

When: Thursday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 18. There are no shows Thanksgiving weekend. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Where: Old Church Theatre, 529 Central Ave, New Rockford

Tickets: $25 for adults; $15 for students ages 11 to 18, $10 for children 10 and younger. Tickets must be purchased in advance at (701) 947-2174 or online at www.dprca.com

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Belief, Christmas magic, singing and dancing elves are all part of Dakota Prairie Regional Council for the Arts' production of "Junior Claus."

The show opens Thursday, Nov. 8, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 8, with performances on weekends.

The show is a musical comedy and features a mix of the DPRCA's professional actors as well as community and children actors. Erin Greiner, a DPRCA staff member, said the goal with this production was finding something that is family friendly.

"We're marketing it as something 'for kids from 1 to 92,'" she said, "just like in 'The Christmas Song.'"

Greiner said she and Elliott Schwab, DPRCA's artistic director, went looking for a fun, family-friendly Christmas comedy and found it in "Junior Claus."

The story of "Junior Claus" revolves around Junior, the son of Santa and Clarabel Claus. Junior is tired of his dead-end job at the North Pole and stops believing in Christmas magic. The shock of Junior's lack of belief sends Santa into a deep, enchanted sleep. A greedy elf named Grumpo attempts to take over Santa's workshop, prompting Junior to lead a team of companions to restore Christmas spirit and save Christmas.

Greiner said all the children in the play are from the New Rockford area. Kelsie Belquist, a fifth-grader at New Rockford-Sheyenne Public School, plays the lead elf, Chipper. Katie Allmaras, another Rockford-Sheyenne fifth-grader, plays Taylor, a little girl who helps Junior find his Christmas spirit.

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"We have a chorus of eight children, from third through sixth grade, who play elves throughout the show," she said.

Sarah Smith Warren, the show's assistant managing director, said one of the challenges with this production is the name "Junior Claus."

"It can seem that this is just a show for children," Warren said. "It's a spirited, funny, energetic holiday show. There is a ton of humor that all ages will get."

Warren said one of the best things about the show is having community actors and children involved in the cast. She said it has been a challenge getting the children confident in their parts and giving them the time and energy they need to be good actors.

"The kids have risen to the occasion," she said. "I think the kids know their lines better than some of our other cast members."

Greiner said the show is fun and entertaining for all.

"It is a Christmas delight," she said. "It's funny, it's heartwarming, you can't help but love it."

Warren said at 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays during the play's run children and families may purchase a $2 kit and decorate a Christmas cookie in the Garden Bistro located in the Old Church Theatre.

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