McCain to present ‘Babes,’ many holiday events

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For the upcoming production of “Babes in Toyland,” McCain Auditorium will be transformed into a winter wonderland.

Deciding how and when to bring the production is a process that requires a lot of planning and usually starts 12-18 months before the performance, said Todd Holmberg, executive director of McCain Auditorium. He also noted the various reasons for bringing in the musical.

“The production is very highly recommended,” Holmberg said. “It also brings home the point of the true meaning of the holidays.”

Thom Jackson, McCain marketing and developing officer, said there is always a challenge to bring good holiday entertainment to McCain, and usually “The Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Carol” are the shows brought to K-State. Jackson said this show is particularly exciting because it has never been done before at K-State. He also noted the musical was an older show set at the turn of the 20th century, but that people should be familiar with the music and the theme, which are centered around the holidays.

Both Holmberg and Jackson said there has been a great response from the community in ticket sales, with a significant spike in sales right after Thanksgiving.

Before the performance, the Friends of McCain Board of Directors is having a Kids, Cookies and Crafts event for children and their families at the Marriana Kistler Beach Museum of Art at 6 p.m. Holmberg said the event was to raise awareness of the show for children and let them know the performance was not just for college students.

“We like to sponsor events for children a few times a year,” Holmberg said.

The pre-performance event is set to last an hour and features a variety of activities for children. Lucia Garavito, associate professor of Spanish and a member of Friends of McCain, helped plan the event.

“We wanted to plan something to get the kids excited and let them know it’s their evening,” Garavito said.

She said the activities planned were meant to be both fun and educational and let children learn about cultural centers like museums and theaters in an informal way.

The activities planned include origami with K-State Japanese instructor Kumiko Nakamura, face painting with Linda Uthoff from the Manhattan High School Drama Department, and storytelling with Richard Pitts, who works at the Wonder Workshop in Manhattan. Snacks for the children also will be provided.

Garavito said six or seven volunteers, including K-State students and Friends of McCain members, will help with the event. She also said it is difficult to predict how many people will attend, but that she would “love to see lots of smiling faces.”

Also before the performance, a brass quintet from the department of music will perform in the lobby of McCain.

“It will add to the total experience and festive holiday mood,” Holmberg said.

With all the pre-performance activities, Jackson said he hopes the mood of the performance will be very exciting and a good way to start the holiday season. “I really feel the entire community will like this production,” Jackson said.

Tickets for “Babes in Toyland” are $12-28 and can be purchased at the McCain Box Office weekdays between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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