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Staff photo, Shea Johnson
Playwright, director and 2007 BHS graduate Julie Robles watches on as part of the cast of "What Christmas Means to Me" practices a scene at St. Joseph's Noonan Hall on Tuesday. The church's Third Annual Christmas production will run Friday through Sunday.

St. Joseph's to perform annual Christmas play

There will be ninjas this weekend

Staff Writer
If you go:

Where: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 505 E. Mountain View

When: Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m.

Sunday, 2 p.m.

Admission: $7 adults, $5 children, free for children 5 and younger

Doors open one hour before show

BARSTOW • Two handmade platforms lay on the ground near either side of the stage at Noonan Hall on Tuesday night, unoccupied and unlit. They’ll be neither when St. Joseph presents its Third Annual Christmas Play, “What Christmas Means to Me,” this weekend.

The platforms will be used to present the play’s narrator, Grandma Evergreen, on the left side, and — when the actors burst into the occasional collective song — the chorus, on the right.

“What Christmas Means to Me” is the brainchild of Julie Robles, a 2007 Barstow High graduate who started performing in plays at Barstow Community College when she was 15 and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in L.A. for two years.

The first-time director and playwright said she pulled elements from her own life into the story.

“People want something they can relate to,” she said.

Some of the fights between characters were inspired by sisterly squabbles and one integral character in the play is named after a close friend who passed away.

“What Christmas Means to Me” is told through Grandma Evergreen, a minor character from last year’s production, who has a penchant for literally getting lost and eventually discovers what Christmas is all about via seesaw segues between the past and present.

“Grandma gets to the core of it all and she bares it to everybody,” Robles said.

Robles started writing the play in August. She and 17 actors — all St. Joseph’s members -— began prepping in early September, putting in two to three hours of rehearsal time per day for four days a week.

Unlike in year’s past, “What Christmas Means to Me” will attempt to balance humor with drama.

“There are funny parts, but comedy is not the focal point,” said actor J.P. Baca, who plays “Rudy.” Baca has been involved with the plays, in some capacity, since their inception in 2010.

Sheena Celestial, 15, is performing in her first play at St. Joseph’s. “It really grabs the attention of what Christmas really means,” she said.

Overall, Robles hopes the performances will motivate play-goers, regardless of their religious preferences. And, if nothing else, she expects it to entertain.

Playing to the littlest of the expected gallery, Robles wrote a scene for kids which will feature “Christmas ninjas,” though she would divulge only her willingness to find a place for them was due to having actors who she knew could “run with it.”

“We have a lot of great numbers,” she said. “We have a lot of great performers.”

Photos with Santa and an entry into a raffle for prizes including an iPad and laptop will be available before the show. All members of the community are invited to attend.

For more information, contact Veronica Cordova at (760) 256-5891.

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