Review of Annual MidWinter's Tales, "Simple Gifts"

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By Community Editor


This year's 7th Annual MidWinter's Tales entitled "Simple Gifts," was nothing short of spectacular! Each year, Prevail (formerly known as The Walk-In Ministry) and The Oak Park Festival Theater team up to offer the entire family an evening of respite and refocus, diversion and delight in song, spoken word and delicious holiday fare.  Once again, the brilliant Belinda Bremner, Director of Oak Park Festival Theater, crafted a poignant program that made us laugh, made us cry and helped us briefly escape the frantic holiday season and instead appreciate what and where we ought to be.
This year's program included selections on the theme of Simple Gifts. Authors included Andy Borowitz, Winston Churchill, Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Moss Hart, Garrison Keillor, Anne Lamott, Tom Leher, Lorrie Moore, David Sedaris, and Dylan Thomas.  The cast included Festival Theatre players: Beth Anne and Paul Amandes, Bob Behr, Lucy Carr, Tony Dobrowolski, Paul and Linus Engelhardt, Ella Gill, Jack Hickey, Lavina Jadwahli, Sara Nichols, Mark Richard, Molly Surowitz, Gwendolyn and Miranda Theis and Bob Vogler, also joined by neighbors: Downtown Oak Park Director Max Austin%u2010Williams, Anti%u2010Gun Violence activist Christine Fenno, Oak Park Food Pantry stalwart Charles Lake, journalist Charles Meyerson, Village Clerk Teresa Powell, philanthropist Tony Ruggerio and the Unity Temple Singers, under the direction of Martha Swisher.
The performances were stirring, entertaining and appropriately comedic.  The performers were wildly engaging and approachable.  The setting was festive and warm.  The whole night was the perfect way to set the mood of the season.  Following the performance, in the glorious sanctuary of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark Unity Temple, guests enjoyed wine and warm cider accompanied by light fare of cheese, crackers, cookies and fruit.  And the evening was capped off with the extraordinary basket drawing consisting of more than a dozen donated baskets.  One basket was more beautiful and bountiful than the next, and winner after elated winner walked away with a reminder of the enjoyable evening.
Sincere thanks to all who made this evening possible.  This event benefits both Prevail and The Oak Park Festival Theater.

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