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story.lead_photo.caption The Batesville High School Theatre Department will present Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus on Friday through Dec. 8 at Lyon College. Studying their lines are, from left, Batesville High School students Aristyn Glasgow, Ainsley Walker, Jazmine Edwardson, Betsy Bumpers, Rebecca Skinner, Elizabeth Buie, J.C. Blackwell and Cody Holland.

— The Batesville High School Theater Department will present Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, a Christmas drama by Andrew J. Fenady, on Friday through Dec. 8 at the Holloway Theatre at Lyon College in Batesville. The play is based on the teleplay by Val DeCrowl and Fenady.

Showtimes are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. Dec. 8. Tickets are $3 for students, $5 for adults and free for Batesville School District employees.

“This is the first time in a long time that the theater department will present a Christmas production,” said Hannah Cummins, oral communications and theater instructor at the high school. “In the past, we have done a fall production and a spring musical.

“We have a great group of kids in this production. … It’s a lot of fun.”

A native of Batesville, Cummins is a 2013 graduate of Batesville High School and a 2018 graduate of Arkansas State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater. This is her first year teaching at her alma mater.

“I am glad to be back home,” she said, laughing. She previously taught one year in Bauxite.

Cummins said the story is inspired by a letter to the New York Sun newspaper written in 1897 by a young girl named Virginia O’Hanlon.

Virginia wrote: “Dear Editor, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says if you see it in the Sun, it’s so. Please tell me the truth. Is there a Santa Claus?”

“The story is given to the starring, but troubled, reporter Frank Church,” Cummins said.

Jazmine Edwardson plays the young 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, who lives with her parents, James O’Hanlon, played by Cody Holland, and Evie O’Hanlon, played by Ainsley Walker, and Virginia’s younger brother, Sean O’Hanlon, played by J.C. Blackwell.

Eric Harris appears as ace reporter Frank Church, and Canon Luter plays the role of Edward Mitchell, the Sun’s editor. Tau Castellon plays the part of Cornelius Barrington, the rival reporter.

Other cast members include the following:

• J.C. Ramirez as Dom Donneli.

• Hilary Hernandez as Maria Donneli.

• Emily Hernandez as Julie.

• Cristal Martinez as Susan.

• Kenly Ling as Andrea Borland.

• Kimberly “Blu” Tullos as Teddy Murray.

• Anni Bullard as Mrs. Goldstein.

• Aristyn Glasgow as Celeste Donneli.

• Chey Cooley as Otho.

• Katelyn Barksdale as George and Officer Akins.

• Ashlyn Harris as Tom Pryor and Goss.

• Rebecca Skinner as Chambers and Officer Flynn.

• Jose Hernandez, who plays four characters — Sam, a thief, Schuller and Red.

• Betsy Bumpers, who appears as three characters — Shorty, Scotty and Art Fritz.

• Elizabeth Buie as Shannon and O’Hara.

• Lucas Pfitzner, who appears as a homeless man and a newspaper employee.

Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus is presented locally by an arrangement with Dramatic Publishing Co. of Woodstock, Illinois.

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