Happy Holidays, Everyone! The Cricket on the Hearth opens December 6th

A world-premiere holiday offering is up next at West End Players Guild – Vladimir Zelevinsky’s new stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’s beloved novella, The Cricket on the Hearth. Steve Callahan directs this heart-warming tale of true love, opening December 6th in the theatre at the Union Avenue Christian Church.

The story is set in mid-19th-century London, where John Peerybingle, a deliveryman, has built a spare but happy home for his wife Dot and their infant son. John and Dot are an unusual couple: he is a somewhat somber man of middle age, she is a vivacious young woman barely out of her teens. But their love is strong and true, and their baby boy is their greatest joy.

John and Dot’s closest friends are Caleb Plummer and his blind daughter, Bertha. Caleb is a toymaker in the employ of the shop owner Tackleton, a miserly and most disagreeable man.

When John invites a mysterious elderly stranger into the Peerybingle home as a temporary boarder, the lives of all are tossed into turmoil. Ultimately, even John and Dot’s bond of love is strained and tested. Does their unlikely union survive? Come see the show and find out!

But, fear not. It is, after all, a Dickens story that was first published five days before Christmas in 1845 (A Christmas Carol was published two years and one day earlier, also just in time for Christmas). The Cricket on the Hearth has endured as one of Dickens’s most popular works through the almost 200 years since. The novella was first performed as a stage play simultaneous with its publication in 1845 and Mr. Zelevinsky’s stage adaptation has been preceded by many others in many languages. With the advent of cinema and broadcasting in the 20th century came movie (both silent and talkie, live action and animated), television and radio adaptations.

This new adaptation will be first performed by a cast including Gracie Sartin as Dot and Chuck Winning as John. Charlie Heuvelman and Samantha Hayes are Caleb and Bertha. Kent Coffel plays Mr. Tackleton, Mary Tomlinson plays May and Kellen Green is the mysterious old stranger.

The play will be presented in seven performances between December 6th and 15th at 8 p.m. Thursday (second week only), Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the theatre at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Boulevard in the Central West End. Tickets for all performances are now on sale at www.WestEndPlayers.org/tickets.

John Peerybingle (played by Chuck Winning, right) and his young bride Dot (Gracie Sartin) visit Caleb Plummer’s toy workshop searching for just the right toy for their bouncing baby boy. John and Dot’s May-December marriage is a happy one, but challenges await in Vladimir Zelevinsky’s stage adaptation of the Charles Dickens novella, The Cricket on the Hearth. West End Players Guild presents the show December 6-15 in the theatre at the Union Avenue Christian Church. (Photo by John Lamb)

Four great shows including a world premiere:
West End Players Guild Season 109

For 2019-2020, West End Players Guild offers an exciting menu plays never or rarely seen in St. Louis, including a world premiere commissioned exclusively for WEPG.

September 27-October 6, 2019: Bill Cain’s Equivocation is a Shakespearean tale of intrigue starring the Bard himself. The King offers Shakespeare a commission he can’t refuse, to write a play about the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament. Shakespeare discovers it is a perilous assignment, as he learns that the King’s version of the story does not quite square with the facts. Shakespeare is torn between the truth and the Crown. Can he walk this tightrope without losing his head (literally)? Tom Kopp directs.

December 6-15, 2019: It’s the world premiere of Vladimir Zelevinsky’s The Cricket on the Hearth, an adaptation of the Charles Dickens story, commissioned and written especially for WEPG. Steve Callahan directs this tale of unlikely but undying love, a holiday heart-warmer that will both entertain and move you.

February 21-March 1: Sharon’s husband and son are gone and her big Iowa house feels very lonely. Maybe a roommate will help. Enter Robyn, who turns out to be someone quite different from what she appears to be. Sean Belt directs Jen Silverman’s The Roommate, a very funny show about standing up to life and daring to do something totally new. It’s a lesson in life and a quirky “buddy comedy” all rolled up in one.

April 17-26, 2020: What if you could go back in time and change the one moment that reshaped your life forever? What if you could see a lost love of 40 years ago just one more time, to learn how her life turned out? Would you? Steven Dietz’s bittersweet Bloomsday poses the questions – the answers are for you to discover (and if you are not familiar with Bloomsday, just click here). Jessa Knust makes her WEPG directing debut.

Season and single-show tickets for the upcoming season are now on sale at www.WestEndPlayers.org/tickets. All shows are at the theatre in the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 Union Boulevard in the Central West End.

West End Players Guild is the region’s oldest continuously-operated theatre company, presenting “big theatre in a small space” since 1911.