Michèle Marsh (left) and Susan Hegarty are two of several members of the Isis Theatre Company’s troupe of talented actors performing “A Wilde Holiday: The Star Child and other tales by Oscar Wilde” on Dec. 13. Photo by Peter Szabadi
Michèle Marsh (left) and Susan Hegarty are two of several members of the Isis Theatre Company’s troupe of talented actors performing “A Wilde Holiday: The Star Child and other tales by Oscar Wilde” on Dec. 13.
Photo by Peter Szabadi

Idyllwild’s Isis Theatre Company, now in its 12th season, is presenting “A Wilde Holiday, The Star Child and Other Tales” as its Christmas offering.

Isis President and Founder Suzanne Avalon noted the company is doing something new this year. “I’m excited this year we’re offering a production for children and families,” she said, referencing the special 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Dec. 13. There is also an evening performance on the same day at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m proud we’re providing children exposure to such great literature, and raising the bar with what we’re doing,” she said. Avalon stressed that the production is for all, not just families with children. “With plenty of humor and pathos, the evening promises to inspire adults to appreciate loved ones and children to embrace the magic of theater,” she noted.

Wilde’s fairy tales, the basis of the Isis production, were published in 1888. They are cautionary stories, designed to teach children the value of selfless giving and rendering kindness to others, especially those in need. Wilde’s fairy tales explore the redemptive power of love, and are bound together in this production with original music by Laura Karpman and poems by Willa Cather and Christina Rossetti.

Director Emily Heebner, a veteran of Los Angeles’ premiere classical theater, “A Noise Within,” explained that Wilde’s fairy tales have been adapted for theater by her mentor, friend and longtime Noise Within company member and director Sabin Epstein. Epstein is regarded as one of America’s leading stage directors of classical drama. His work also has been seen in productions at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and the San Diego Repertory Theatre.

“To know Wilde’s fairy tales, to know he wrote them for his children, is endearing,” said Heebner. “Micheál Mac Liammóir wrote that Wilde’s son Cyril once asked him why he had tears in his eyes when he told the story of the Selfish Giant, and that [Wilde] replied, ‘Really beautiful things always make me cry.’” Heebner said that by calling attention to Wilde’s work, especially introducing his fairy tales to contemporary children and families, may help his genius to endure.

Cast members are: Susan Hegarty, Jeri Greene, Michèle Marsh, Ann De Wolfe, Larry Kawano, Barbara Rayliss, Christina Gower and Wade Davis.

“A Wilde Holiday” is presented at the Rainbow Inn, 54420 S. Circle Dr., in Idyllwild. Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for students under 18, $7 for children ages 5-12 and free for children under 5 (matinée only). They are available online at isistheatrecompany.com and at the door. For more information, call 951-692-9553. A Dinner Theatre Package is available for $50 that includes a three-course meal at the Gastrognome Restaurant and a ticket to the play with preferred seating.

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