By John Horan Jr. -- email@example.com
MIDDLETOWN -- Wayside Theatre's new Christmas musical is actually a Valentine to the Shenandoah Valley.
"Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story" is a lovingly crafted, skillfully presented production rooted in the valley.
Written by Rich Follett and Larry Dalhke, two veteran Wayside company members, and directed by Warner Crocker, "Glory Bea" brims with down-home music, ably sung by the cast accompanied by a trio of instrumentalists.
The story centers on the Civilian Conservation Corps' building of the Skyline Drive, which separates a father from his pregnant wife and daughter at Christmas. A blizzard, which delays his return, is the complication that gives the show its dramatic edge.
The talented instrumentalists -- fiddler Jason Labrador, bassist Jody Lee and guitarist Steve Przybylski -- handle most of the tunes and comment on the action, which ranges from the family's home to a church and school.
Audrey Nakagawa, the opening night "Glory Bea," is a winsome presence, conveying conflicted emotions as she copes with her father's absence amid the Christmas bustle.
Thomasin Savaiano is the stalwart mother and Matthew Baldoni the sturdy father. Dana Colagiovanni is the appealing school marm.
A clutch of youth complete the troupe.
A second cast appears at some performances.
Wes Calkin's spacious, tiered set is enhanced by a screen backdrop that displays vintage photographs and scenic views of the valley.
Tamara M. Carruthers provides period costumes and the nifty hat with protruding "ears" that Przybylski dons when he's playing the ornery mule.
"Glory Bea" continues through Dec. 24. The box office phone number is 869-1776.
• "Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Christmas Story"
• By Rich Follett and Larry Dalhke
• Directed by Warner Crocker
• Continuing at Wayside Theatre until Dec. 24. Box office phone number: 869-1776.