The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

December 6, 2013

New levels of classic Chirismas story revealed

WEBB CITY, Mo. — Kylie Kimbley was very specific before accepting the role of Della Young in a production of "The Gift of the Magi": She wouldn't accept the role if she had to cut her hair. She's been working on growing out her blond hair, which currently reaches low between her shoulder blades.

That unwillingness to cut her own hair gave her new perspective on her character, however.

"Giving up my hair would be a huge deal," Kimbley said. "It would be so weird to cut it off. That helped me get into character, pretending how Della would give up something so important."

The classic, cosmic-irony Christmas story will be presented until Dec. 15 at Mount Hope Church of Christ.

The story is about Jim and Della Young, a newlywed couple about to celebrate their first Christmas together. Times are tough in their modest flat, however, and they can barely scrape by, much less get each other gifts for Christmas.

They eventually make sacrifices -- he his watch, she her hair -- to get money for the perfect presents, only to find those gifts useless.

The play is the first one directed by Andrea Hurley, a freshman at Ozark Christian College. Familiar with the story, written by O. Henry in 1905, Hurley said getting a chance to direct revealed new impact to the story.

"There's so much about the story that everyone gets right away," Hurley said. "At first glance it's about wanting to buy Christmas gifts. But when you realize how important the hair and watch are, and they are willing to give that up, for me it's an image of sacrificial love."

Caleb Daniel, who plays Jim, also found new levels to the story, in how an independent-minded person transforms and puts someone else first.

"Jim is determined and independent," Daniel said. "In his journey to start a new life with his bride, he incorporates that independence in putting his wife before everything else."

The production is paired with "A Celebration of Christmas." Directed by Kelly Weaver, that portion of the program will feature a selection of Christmas songs.

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