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“Merry Christmas, Strega Nona” at RLT Dramatizes a Yuletide Miracle by Calabria’s “Grandma Witch”

The RLT cast includes (from left) Natalie Giannini as Bambolona, Martie Todd Sirois as Strega Nona, and Charlie Putnam as Big Anthony (photo by David Watts)

The RLT cast includes (from left) Natalie Giannini as Bambolona, Martie Todd Sirois as Strega Nona, and Charlie Putnam as Big Anthony (photo by David Watts)

Raleigh Little Theatre will perform the musical Merry Christmas, Strega Nona as part of its 2011-12 RLT Youth Series on Nov. 4-6, 10-13, and 17-20 in its Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre in west Raleigh. First produced by the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, MN in its 1987-88 season, the show features music by Alan Shorter and a book by Thomas Olson, based on a 1986 story by Tomie dePaola.

According to Raleigh Little Theatre:

“Long ago, near a little town in Calabria, Italy lived an old witch called Strega Nona ‘Grandma Witch’ [Martie Todd Sirois]. She knew magic and loved to use it to help people. Big Anthony [Charlie Putnam], Strega Nona’s helper, didn’t like to work, never paid attention and almost always got into trouble.

“Every Christmas Eve, Strega Nona made a big feast for all the people of Calabria with no magic at all, because she says, ‘No magic at Christmastime. Christmas has a magic all its own.’

“After Big Anthony nearly ruined Christmas by another one of his goofs, it seemed like nothing but a miracle could save Strega Nona’s feast. But Christmas is a time for miracles … and wonderful surprises too.”

In addition to the performers named above, the Raleigh Little Theatre cast for Merry Christmas, Strega Nona includes Natalie Giannini as Bambolona, Barney Weaver as the baker Signore Bambo, Caitriona Kagan as Signora Rosa, Jack Sirois as Little Paolo, Melissa Langston as Paolo’s Mother, James Ilsley as the Mayor, Courtney Johnson as the Mayor’s Wife, James Ilsley as a Puppeteer, Samuel Haw as a Priest, McKinley Rains as a Nun, Hannah Levinson as a Candy/Cheese Vendor, and Parker Perry as a Bread Vendor. The children include Bryan Bunch, Maggie Duffy, Pippa Dunne, Sarah Langston, and Quinn Norman.

The RLT creative team for the show includes director Linda O’Day Young, musical director Yvonne Koch, technical director Jim Zervas, set designer Thomas Mauney, costume designer Jenny Mitchell, and stage manager Elaine Petrone. Young is RLT‘s youth theater and education director.

Raleigh Little Theatre presents MERRY CHRISTMAS, STREGA NONA at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4, 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 5 and 6, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 12 and 13, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18, 1 and 5 p.m. Nov. 19, and 1 p.m. Nov. 20 in its Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre, 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.

TICKETS: $15 ($10 children 12 and under).

BOX OFFICE: 919/821-3111 or






NOTE: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive listening devices are available for all shows.


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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