A “miracle for a miracle” is what the Halifax County High School’s Theatre Department is calling their latest efforts to bring some extra Christmas joy to one South Boston family.
With their upcoming production of “Miracle on 34th Street,” all proceeds will go to the family of Caroline Laughorn, who is battling her third stint with cancer at the age of 19.
Just as Laughorn was preparing to attend James Madison University in the fall, she was diagnosed with leukemia for the third time. After spending 28 days taking chemo, she successfully completed CAR-T therapy and was declared in remission on Oct. 31.
She recently had a bone marrow biopsy and no cancer cells or B cells were found, and she will have to undergo another bone marrow biopsy at the end of December before she will know if she can attend JMU in January.
“I just want to be able to bless them financially this Christmas season, because I know it has to be tough and difficult,” said theatre instructor Devin Hall who lost his uncle to cancer last year.
Almost everyone else in the play has acknowledged they also know someone affected by cancer.
While the play didn’t originally start off as a fundraiser for Laughorn, it didn’t take long for Hall to decide to make it one.
Originally, Jessica Young, who played Mora, the court’s prosecuting attorney in the Halifax County Little Theatre’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street,” ran into Hall and suggested they do play.
“I said ‘why not,’” said Hall, who also was in that little theatre production.
He got the rights to the play, and it originally started off as a fundraiser for the theatre department, but after following Laughorn’s story on Facebook, he decided to give the funds to her family, and his cast agreed.
“Reading that story and how much those treatments cost, it has to be a huge financial burden and emotional burden on family, and the fact that it’s the third time. I just thought to myself, ‘God what we can do to help?’ It dawned on me, we’re doing this play, ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’ why not make it a miracle for a miracle,” said Hall.
He also thought the county could use a little something extra to help bring everyone together for the holidays.
“There’s no Christmas play or pageant. We needed something in the county to fill in that gap. What better way to bring recognition and some new life and new faces to your program by having a fundraiser and getting people who wouldn’t normally come to the theatre come in and see it,” said Hall.
Being in their final weeks of practice, it is coming together with their cast comprised of many who were in Little Theatre’s production of the play in 2017 as well as newcomers from the high school’s theatre department and children from all over the county including many families.
“It’s crazy how many families are involved in this. It’s really nice to see them come together,” said Hall.
There also will be several walk-on roles from central office personnel and principals including Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg, high school Principal Michael Lewis and Director of Elementary Education Lisa Long.
And Hall said there might even be more surprise walk-on roles by well-known locals.
“We had a good solid group of people who were already in the show, so we added some new faces. Everybody has good rapport with one another. It’s starting to feel more like Christmas as we get together. We’re in the long haul now. We’re in the final stages of getting it put together,” said Hall.
The stage also is coming together with those in Hall’s theatre class taking the reins.
They’ve built and painted a gingerbread house, wrapped and strategically placed presents, created toys and all the bits and pieces to create the stage.
“They took ownership of it,” said Hall.
And while they may not have the best facility to use to put on the performance, Hall said they have what really matters.
“We might not have the mics, and we might not have the lights. The seats might be worn and ragged, but we have something — we have heart. That’s all you need… the rest will fall into place,” said Hall, who would like to see all the seats filled for their performances of “Miracle on 34th Street.”
He also is hoping to get more sponsors for the play.
Individuals can donate $1 to $24 to be considered a player, $25 to $49 to be considered a patron, and anything $50 and above is considered a producer.
“No donation is too small, and no donation is too big. We would love to get the show paid for so everything we make will go straight to Caroline and her family,” said Hall.
The show will run at 7 p.m. Thursday, at 11 a.m. Saturday and at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door.
There also will be a 50/50 raffle as well as concessions for $1.
“Come support our miracle, and we will support another miracle,” Hall concluded.