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‘Christmas Bus’ stops in Wilkes

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Article Published: Dec. 6, 2012 | Modified: Dec. 17, 2012

Wilkes Playmakers are busy rehearsing their upcoming holiday season production of “The Christmas Bus” to share with the audiences of Wilkes and surrounding areas.

Performances will be held Friday through Sunday, Dec. 7 to 9, and then again on Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 13 to 16, with all performances held at historic Benton Hall in North Wilkesboro.

“The Christmas Bus” was originally produced as a play by North Carolina playwright Robert Inman, but has also been produced as a children’s book. Wilkes Playmakers have previously produced other works by Inman, such as “Dairy Queen Days” and “Crossroads,” which were well received by local audiences.

In “The Christmas Bus,” the story is narrated by a local newspaper editor, as he remembers the events that comprise his latest column in the Christmas special edition.

The tale revolves around Mrs. Frump, the director of the Peaceful Valley Orphanage, as she strives to provide an extra special Christmas to each of the orphans she has loved and cared for through her 20-plus years at the orphanage.

She hatches a plan, which involves constantly trying to stay one step ahead of the busybodies on the orphanage board of directors (as well as the local sheriff), as she and the orphans take off down the back roads of the county in a borrowed ramshackle bus.

Along the way, they meet a musician on his way home for Christmas. It’s an adventuresome ride, culminating in a Christmas even more special than Frump could have ever imagined.

The cast is comprised of several longtime Playmakers, as well as relative newcomers to community theater.

Harold Bass will play the role of The Editor, the man who narrates the story, while he is writing it for the newspaper. Kathy Moffett plays Mrs. Frump, beloved by her orphans. David Podbielski plays Thomas, her oldest orphan and trusted sidekick in this adventure. Sheriff Snodgrass is brought to life by Don Easterling. The Busybodies are portrayed by April Ellsworth, Melanie Parrish, Breanna Cook and Kersten Campbell. Garrett Griffin appears as the musician, and Olivia Van Buskirk as the girlfriend he left behind.

A variety of Wilkes county youth have been cast to play the orphans or “wild hooligans” of the Peaceful Valley Orphanage. They’re played by Sara Lopez, Taylor Ellsworth, Lakyn Parrish, Will Baldwin, Keaton Parrish, Jared Staley and Pricila Lopez.

“The Christmas Bus” is directed by William Brooks. Mike Heckel has designed the bus for the stage, as well as sound design for the show. Heather Dean and Melanie Podbielski are designing the lighting.

Tickets are available online at or may be purchased at the box office one hour prior to performance. Performance times are 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15, with 2 p.m. matinees on Dec. 9 and 16. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens older than 60. Group rates are available for groups of 10 or more purchasing tickets together. For more information, email (

In addition to “The Christmas Bus,” Wilkes Playmakers will be presenting a “Candlelight Christmas” variety show on Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. at Benton Hall.

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