Gift of Magi
A Musical Theater Gift for the Holidays
Musicals were the first art form Kelly Quinnett connected to when she was young. Quinnett, head of acting in the Department of Theatre Arts, remembers a mesmerizing performance of “The Gift of the Magi” at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Kentucky, that left her stunned.
“I was an eighth-grader and can still picture the awestruck audience,” she said. “I just cried. The show was so beautiful.”
While Quinnett is most familiar to audiences for her acting – her many credits include film, television and stage including “All My Children,” “One Life to Live,” “Home of the Brave” with Samuel Jackson and “Bus Stop” with Ellen Travolta, to name a few, – she steps into the director’s role to bring the bittersweet “Gift of the Magi” to the Forge Theater for nine performances, Nov. 30-Dec. 9.
A Gift to the Community
Based on a short story by O. Henry, who was known for his surprise endings, “Magi” tells the story of a young couple who each make a sacrifice to provide a Christmas gift for the other.
The show is a reminder of the inherent goodness of people, Quinnett said.
At only 35 minutes in length, the message and music convey the spirit of the holidays. The production is not Quinnett’s first experience with “Magi.” She directed the university’s performance of the musical in 2001.
“It’s a sweet love story about generosity in the dearest way,” she said. “We needed it then, and we need it now.”
Enchanting for the Entire Family
Actors Dylan Paul and Whitney Holland bring a warmth, beauty and sympathy to their leading roles. Paul is a professional actor and U of I Theatre Arts faculty member who has worked throughout the United States and abroad. His Broadway debut was with “Cabaret” and he has been a resident company member of Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Shakespeare Center and others. A Fulbright Award winner, Quinnett said Paul is the first Broadway star on U of I’s faculty.
“He’s not only a beautiful, genuine human being, he’s extremely talented,” Quinnett said.
Holland, a senior in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, from Richland, Washington, has appeared in “A Kind of Alaska,” “The Children’s Hour,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Medea: Her Story.” She traveled to Russia in June 2017 to train at the famed Moscow Art Theatre School.
In addition to the memorable performances on stage, students from the Lionel Hampton School of Music will perform the musical score on piano, cello and flute.
Seven of the nine “Magi” performances will also feature concerts by Moscow-area musicians and groups 30 minutes before curtain. Performances include:
- 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 - Clint Heimgartner on piano
- 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 - The Border Highlanders
- 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 - Moscow High School Jazz Choir
- 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 - The Jellybeans
- 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 - Alexander-Stephens Duo
- 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 - Palouse Harmony Chorus
- 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 9 - Traffyk Jam
Audience members are encouraged to bring canned food and unwrapped Christmas gifts for distribution to area food banks and local children in need this holiday season.
“I hope it’s going to be an inspiring gift to the community,” Quinnett said.
Article by Kelly O’Neill, Department of Theatre Arts
Published in November 2018.