Actors depict an old-fashioned Christmas in the Victorian era of the late 1800s during the elaborate "The Singing Christmas Tree" this weekend at First Baptist Church — New Port Richey.
"Even back then they were talking about the commercialization of Christmas," said the Rev. Kurt McKinnon, the church's minister of music and media.
The "true message of Christmas" tends to get lost among all the glitter of modern-day merchandising, McKinnon said. The Christmas play, in its fourth year, will remind spectators that "Jesus is the reason for the season."
Kaitlyn Rose portrays Elizabeth, a Victorian girl who ponders the holiday season in her diary.
The cast and crew deftly apply many humorous touches, especially with secular numbers early in the show, McKinnon said. In one number, the singers lament getting fruitcakes.
Then the production gravitates toward traditional, sacred songs. The "Heartbeat" finale includes a video shown on the big screen that covers the birth of Jesus to his ministry.
It takes about 200 people to breathe life into the production, McKinnon said.
Julie Stokes plays the part of the director. George Kolbinskie serves as the host who comments on the play from the wings of the stage. Nathan Stokes portrays Grandpa, while Landon Gardner takes on the role of Timothy.
Singers in the spotlight include Trish Dekok, Rodger Smith, Shannon Whitmire, Chuck Hopper, Dale Gardner, Laura Novak, Sue Nading and Greg Palmer.
The production takes more than 3,000 hours of preparation, the Rev. Guy Sanders III, the church's pastor, wrote in his message in the program.
The public is invited to attend the show with a "timeless Christmas message that promises to touch all our hearts," according to the church's promotional literature.
Many of the performances sell out, church officials say, even though the First Baptist sanctuary can seat nearly 1,000 people.
The church is at 6800 Trouble Creek Road. Show times will be 7 p.m. Friday; 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday; and 6 p.m. Sunday.
General seating costs $5. Call (727) 849-4210 or go to www.fbcnpr.com for information.