The Haskell sisters are back in action, and their newest song and dance production will bring holiday cheer to the residents of Jamestown.
Jaclyn and Justine Haskell, Southwestern High School graduates, have sold out shows as heads of the Hip-Hop Dance Team while attending St. Bonaventure University. But, now that Jaclyn has graduated, she's returned home to Jamestown, and brought with her some of the magic she created with Justine while in college.
Jaclyn and Justine are set to host a one-time-only production featuring more than 65 community cast members called "A Christmas Carol in Jamestown." The show, which is set for Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m., will be located in the Southwestern High School auditorium.
Sullivan O’dell, Derek DeVlieger and Katie Falkowski, the main characters in “A Christmas Carol in Jamestown,” are pictured. Sullivan plays a spoiled child named Marley, Derek plays a hobo who shows Sullivan the true meaning of Christmas, and Katie plays the part of Emily, who enjoys Christmas and wants her brother Marley to do the same.
According to Jaclyn, the opportunity to tap into the talent of the Jamestown area and the surrounding region was one that she couldn't pass up.
"I'm pretty excited because I wanted to see how much talent there was in the community - and I was very amazed," Jaclyn said. "I had open auditions, where we found kids of all ages, starting at 7 and ranging up to 25, who are all so talented. Basically everyone who auditioned got a part."
The goal of the show, Jaclyn said, is to provide area residents with a moment of respite during the rush of the holiday season.
"It's very busy around the holidays," Jaclyn said. "So, this production is a fun, family-friendly show that will get everyone, even adults, into the spirit of Christmas. I truly believe that this show is magical, with the singing, dancing and level of talent, everything has been beyond my expectations - I know the community will absolutely love it."
Presale tickets for $5 are available at the Kiantone Fire Hall from 9 a.m. to noon today. Tickets at the door will be $8. Southwestern High School is located at 600 Hunt Road in West Ellicott. For more information, call Jaclyn at 485-6144.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
"A Christmas Carol in Jamestown," which is an original piece written by Justine, follows two main characters, including a young boy named Marley and his little sister Emily. Marley, who is played by Sullivan Odell, does not believe in the spirit of Christmas, while Emily, played by Katie Falkowski, embodies the true meaning of the holiday. However, it takes a wake-up call from a hobo, played by Derek DeVlieger, to show Marley what his future will look like if he doesn't change his attitude.
"My sister Justine has an amazing imagination," Jaclyn said. "Her creativity allows her to write the most entertaining and funny plots. Her scripts just keep getting better and better."
The show revolves around Marley, who is a descendant of Scrooge. Things get interesting when Emily's snowglobe collection magically transports Marley into the tiny worlds hidden within the globes. The first snowglobe is New York City, which illustrates the spirit of giving, the second features Santa's workshop, which signifies believing, and the third is the Christmas Star, which embodies love.
"He's a little bratty and spoiled and he comes from a wealthy family," Jaclyn said. "Marley thinks Emily's snowglobes are silly, and in the middle of the night when she's sleeping he throws them out. While doing so, a hobo tells Marley that he needs a wake-up call, and then he gets sucked into each of the three snowglobes where he will learn a lesson. It has a very good message, showing that Marley can learn the true meaning of Christmas, and to love the holiday."
FOR FAMILY, BY FAMILY
Jaclyn and Justine's older sister, Julia, is also involved in the project, and serves as co-choreographer.
"It was really fun to work with her because we haven't worked together in a few years," Jaclyn said. "I think that the dancing makes this show very unique. We have a lot of upbeat hip-hop dances that show of the kids' abilities to stunt, flip and freeze. But, we will also be doing tapping, a Rockette number and a few contemporary pieces - a Christmas show is never complete without a kickline."
More than just a dance routine, the show will also feature several musical numbers.
"These kids are a triple-threat - acting, dancing and singing," Jaclyn said. "This is like a professional production, and these kids have worked so hard - why miss out on so much talent?"
A family affair, the project includes a Haskell brother, John, who will take on the role of Santa. Also involved are Andrea Haskell, who serves as directing assistant, and aunts Rosa Farrell and Gina Harris, of DeMarco Sisters School of Dance, donated costumes and helped design the set. The St. Bonaventure Hip-Hop team, which Justine is the coach of, also provided support.
"It's something our family does - we enjoy it a lot," Jaclyn said. "Call me crazy, but if this production is successful, I'm going to try to do another in the spring."
FOR A CAUSE
Not only is the show nonprofit, and required no financial investment on the part of the cast, but the funds raised from the production of "A Christmas Carol in Jamestown" will serve to benefit the Lake Erie New York Chapter 4 of Blue Star Mothers of America.
"It's the season of giving, and I've never had the mindset to profit from a show," Jaclyn said. "It's something I love and truly enjoy doing, so why not give back to the community, and do it for the kids."
Blue Star Mothers is a nonprofit organization comprised of mothers of service men and women. The organization's members have collected donations for care packages that will be sent to military personnel that are away from their family during the holiday season.
According to Susan Rowley, president of the local Blue Star Mothers, the proceeds from the production will serve to offset the cost associated with sending nearly 700 care packages, which will likely exceed $10,000, she said.
"It's going to be an amazing show - like all of their others," Rowley said. "The proceeds will help because there is a huge need. We will be able to further support our troops, and locals who are serving. The men and the women who are serving away from their family during the holidays are homesick and their morale is down. We've been told by prior recipients of our boxes that this lifts their morale - what better can we do from home? Our whole goal is to let them know that they are being thought of, appreciated and loved from home."
Blue Star Mothers will be present during the production at an informational booth, as well as host a presentation during intermission. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.bluestarmothers.org.