Act 1 Ushers in the Holiday Season with The Homecoming

by Matthew Smaldone '20 | Oct 31, 2016

Based on Earl Hamner Jr.’s classic novel that inspired “The Waltons”

Act 1 DeSales University Theatre continues its 47th season with Earl Hamner Jr.’s heartwarming classic, “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.” This time-honored tale runs November 30 to December 11, 2016 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA.

 “The Homecoming” takes place against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, during the Great Depression. It is Christmas Eve and, as a snowstorm thrashes the land, the father of a poor household is late returning from work. Back at home his family begins to worry when their beloved father fails to show. As the hours tick by the prospect of the family patriarch’s safe arrival dwindles. At the request of his mother, the eldest son sets out to brave the storm and find his father. Throughout his journey the son meets various townsfolk who show him the great influence his father has had on the community. This inspiring Christmas story affirms the fact that love is bright enough to weather the darkest blizzard. “The Homecoming is ultimately about family and healing during tough times,” says Performing Arts Division Head John Bell. “It resonates deeply in today’s troubled world. A story about family strength and hopeful optimism is as much in demand today as ever—perhaps more so!”

Earl Hamner Jr. was born in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in which he based his greatest works. Like the play’s protagonist, Hamner was raised in a large, close-knit family during the Great Depression and experienced a desire to write from a young age. He eventually attended the University of Cincinnati and earned his BFA in broadcasting. From Cincinnati, Hamner made his way through New York City and Los Angeles, working on a variety of projects including “The Today Show,” “The Twilight Zone,” and his own creation, “Falcon Crest.” However, his crowning jewel will always be “The Waltons,” on which “The Homecoming” is based.

The simple American masterpiece that is “The Waltons” began in 1970, when Hamner’s novel “The Homecoming" was picked up by Lorimar Productions and became a CBS Christmas special. The television special became so popular that Warner Bros. Studios and Lorimar Productions used it as a series pilot to establish Hamner’s classic American drama “The Waltons," an instant hit enjoying widespread success in homes and hearts across America. “The movie has become an endearing holiday favorite to legions of fans over the years,” adds Bell. “We are excited to offer the regional premiere of the stage version of the story.” 

“The Homecoming: A Christmas Story” is directed by associate professor of theatre Anne Lewis. Of the play she says, “‘The Homecoming’ shows that family life is a struggle, but when it’s based in love there’s a lot of positive things that can come out of the struggles. It’s worth exposing people to it, especially at this time of year, because it gives them something to be positive about. It’s a testimony to the human spirit.”

“The Homecoming” is brought to life with sets and costumes by Act 1’s resident creative faculty team: scenic designer Will Neuert, costume designer Amy Best, and lighting and sound designer Elizabeth Elliott.

The production runs November 30 to December 11, 2016 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. Performances are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is a morning matinee on Tuesday, December 6 at 9:45 AM, followed by a talk back with the director and cast. A talk back is also scheduled for Sunday, December 4 after the 2:00 PM performance.

In an effort to improve accessibility for all patrons, the Saturday, December 3, 2:00 PM matinee performance will feature Open Captioning for patrons who are deaf or hearing impaired and Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or visually impaired. During Open Captioned performances, all dialogue and sound effects are presented in real-time on an LED screen that is adjacent to the stage. During Audio Described performances, all action and physical appearances are described live through a headset. Tickets are half price for patrons using these special services on this date. Please call box office manager Catherine Logan at 610-282-3654, ext. 1 for more information.

On Saturday, December 4 at 5:30, join director of development Deb Walter as she welcomes resident costume designer Amy Best during “Dinner with Amy and Deb.” Best will share research and her creative process and take the attendees on a virtual tour of the costume shop. You'll pick up some tips you can use at home. The cost is $29 and includes a full bar and four-course “Walton’s” themed dinner.

Ticket prices are $28 for adults and $27 for students and seniors on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $30 for adults and $29 for students and seniors on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Group discounts are available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda Center box office at 610-282-3192 or by visiting the web site at www.desales.edu/act1.

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.


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Tom McNamara
Executive Director of Communications
DeSales University
2255 Station Avenue
Center Valley, PA 18034

610.282.1100 x1219
Tom.McNamara@desales.edu