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MPA stages Babes in Toyland
mpa pic
Modesto Performing Arts is bringing the holiday classic Babes in Toyland to the stage on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. - photo by Photo Contributed

Modesto Performing Arts is presenting the classic family Christmas tale “Babes in Toyland” to kick-off the holiday season.

The MPA shows will be at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at the Johansen High School Theater in Modesto.

“Babes in Toyland” has been a Christmas favorite ever since its opening in New York. It has been filmed several times, most notably with Laurel and Hardy in the roles of the two comic henchmen. Disney filmed the story with Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands as the two romantic leads. Among the scores memorable songs are “Toyland” and “The March of the Toy Soldiers.”

In typical old-fashioned melodrama style, the musical tells the story of the evil Uncle Barnaby who will foreclose on all the mortgages in Mother Goose Village unless Mary Contrary will marry him. But she is in love with Tom-Tom. Contrary Mary and Tom-Tom leave for Toyland to seek the help of the Toymaker so the village homes will not be lost. In the Toyshop the Toymaker has lost the magic formula to make the toy soldiers come alive and thus save the village. Much merriment and mayhem ensues and each character gets his due by the end, finishing with the triumphant “March of the Toy Soldiers.”

Paul Tischer directs the cast of 50, including 20 children who play Santa’s elves. Carol Smeltzer Channing provides the musical direction and piano accompaniment. Reprising his role as the evil Barnaby will be Ray Leverett. Paul Jackson and Krista Joy Serpa play Tom-Tom and Contrary Mary, respectively, with John Smith and Jonathan Jasso as the two comic henchmen; Marty Cox as the Toymaker and Donna Phillips as the Old Woman in the Shoe. 

Children will be invited to meet the cast following each performance. 

Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children. Tickets may be purchased online at Gallo, by calling 338-2100, or at the Gallo Center ticket office, 1000 I Street in downtown Modesto.