HUDSON -- The holiday spirit and fairytale magic come together in "Cinder-Elfa," a production by The Phipps Children’s Theater.

As Christmas nears, Santa invites all the elves to a party to present their best gift. The winner will join Santa’s workshop, and get to ride on his sleigh with him. Cinder-Elfa is banned from attending by her stepmother, and her stepsisters plan to present her toys as their own, but with help from her Elfin Godmother she is able to attend the party with the best gift of all.

“It really is a fairytale mashup,” Director Tami Provencher said.

The production is a wonderful, heartwarming story, Provencher said. The young actors have worked hard to affirm the values of the story in their work.

“They are genuinely excited to gift this performance to their audiences,” she said.

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Preparing the production has had its complexities. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, all the actors are masked up, and Provencher has worked with them to make sure they are projecting.

“Cinder-Elfa” is also performed in the round, meaning the audience is in a circle all around the stage rather than just in front. That’s a big change for performers, and none of the young actors has done it before, Provencher said.

As a middle school theater director, she doesn’t underestimate the ability of young actors. Still, they’ve amazed her, she said.

“Kids never fail to blow past even what I expect and this group of kids has worked so hard and I’m so impressed with the fact that they are doing a really good job including their audience on all four sides of them,” she said.

Provencher said she has been impressed with not only the actors’ development but their willingness to try.

“Which is both the wonderful and the scariest thing of participating in theater, it requires you to put yourself out there and take risks and be willing to make mistakes,” she said.

Watching them take on the challenges is thrilling, Provencher said.

This is the first Phipps production for Lucy Bieber, though not her first performance. She enjoys the people and the atmosphere of the show, and the chance to dig into her character. One of the best parts is the theme.

"It's Christmasy," she said.

This production has a feeling of exhilaration for Provencher. Watching their rehearsal, Provencher said she had the biggest grin on her face, under her mask.

“There’s like a light shining out of them,” she said. “They really do just, it does, it just flows out of them and you can see their joy in what they were able to give to others and what they were able to discover for themselves.”

Like so many, Provencher has missed live theater. Good theater can be done online, she said, but there is still something about the reaction of an immediate audience.

“That connection to other humans, particularly through laughter and joy, especially at this time, that’s invaluable,” she said. “I’m so glad that these kids and their audiences are going to get a chance to experience that at this time in the world.”

"Cinder-Elfa" runs through Dec. 20, with performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sundays.

All performances are limited capacity, seating is socially distanced and mask usage is required.