OCEAN PARK - "Magical, uplifting and timely ... A moving story of hope, thankfulness, gratefulness and unselfishness."

That is how director Barbara Poulshock describes the Peninsula Association of Performing Artists' upcoming opera, "Amahl and the Night Visitors."

Written by the late Gian Carlo Menotti, "Amahl and the Night Visitors" was the first opera ever written for a television broadcast back in 1951.

The story takes place around Christmas time and Epiphany (Jan. 6) and focuses on Amahl, a young boy who relies on a crutch, and his mother. The pair are visited by the Magi, who are following a star to see the newborn king and in need of food and rest. The plot thickens, a miracle develops, and a dance and song ensue. But readers will have to see the show to find out more.

"It's a story of redemption and forgiveness," says production coordinator Andrea Patten.

"The appeal is that it's a very inspirational story about faith, charity, unselfish love, good deeds - which can work miracles," says Poulshock, who also serves as the pianist for the show. She describes the opera as having "magical and unique sounds" and says Menotti "does a good job of combining tender, poignant scenes and comical scenes."

The opera includes many of the talented and multi-faceted performers that made the local productions of "Fiddler on the Roof" so memorable. Michael Campellone, John McCreedie and Richard Babikoff are filling roles for the three kings. The role of Amahl is played by 12-year-old Madison Baker, with 14-year-old Anja Patten as her understudy. Jonathan Cole will act as the page, and Suzanne Leonard and Andrea Patten share the role of Amahl's mother. The music will feature oboist Terri Miller, harpist Cheri Walker, and Barbara Bate on percussion. Cindy Flood lent a helping hand with choreography and Carol Barger donated her time to costumes.

"It appeals to everyone, it's not just a Christian piece - it's very wholesome for the family," says Poulshock.

"Amahl and the Night Visitors" is 55 minutes long and scheduled for Jan. 9, 10 and 11 at Peninsula Baptist Church, 23802 Pacific Highway in Ocean Park. Friday's show will start at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday shows will start at 3 p.m. Audiences will also be treated to a 10-minute segment of "Hansel and Gretel" prior to the main show. The shows are free, but donations would be appreciated to help defray royalties, costume and publicity costs.

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