SANTA.COM - THE MUSICAL
John Kallas and Tom Ferriter
Santa.Com - The Musical is the story of the corruption of Christmas by the forces of technology and the intrusions of government, leading to the early retirement of Santa Claus and the down-sizing of his workshop. Faced with a budget crisis and growing national debt of gargantuan proportions, the President and his economic advisers decide to intervene in the traditions of Christmas in order to exploit the efficiencies and conveniences of internet shopping and reap huge tax revenues to reduce the budget deficit. As part of their plan, Santa Claus is forced into retirement and his workshop is modernized, resulting in the layoff of his loyal, and long-term, workforce - a.k.a., Santa's elves - most of whom are replaced by ultra-fast computers capable of instantaneous communication with parents via the internet. The President's eight year-old daughter, upon learning of the plight of Santa and his workers, enlists the aid of a corps of unseen gremlins - those ever present phenomena that interfere with modern technology - who freeze the computers, crash their programs, and otherwise gum up the works. In the ensuing chaos of unfilled orders, Santa's elves persuade their former employer to come out of enforced retirement and resume his role as master gift-giver to children the world over.
Santa.Com - The Musical is a new musical play for families that addresses, thematically, the need for healthy fantasy in the world of children, as well as in the adult world, and the need for imagination and simplicity in our everyday lives to use as a coping force as we struggle to exist in a world that has become too complex and too complicated for both children and adults.
Santa.Com - The Musical emphasizes the need to maintain and foster traditional values associated with family, love, Christmas, Santa Claus and the world of mythical and spiritual legends. The story suggests that not everything in the world need be high tech or computerized; that human beings do not have to depersonalize the simpler things in life, like Santa Claus and other stories and fables associated with Christmas, in order to be sophisticated and functional in their advanced societies.
Santa.Com – The Musical carries an easy-to-follow plot through a simple, yet compelling story of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, truth vs. falsehood. It also presents a metaphor for today’s high speed/high tech society: through its example of the over-commercialization of life and the over-complicated, if not overwhelming, events that take us further and further away from the simplicity and intrinsic values of those events. At the same time, the play is not a manifesto against progress; it is a story that “opposes” the loss of the soul, human warmth and the spiritual connections that are destroyed in the rush to capitalize on and exploit the benefits of newly developed technologies.
In the end, Santa.Com – The Musical, is a musical play about spirit and spirituality as the bedrock foundation of people’s lives; it is a message communicated through words and music about where our spirituality comes from and how easy it can be lost.
In a musical format, Santa.Com – The Musical presents the opportunity for creating original material to articulate thought-provoking and universal themes in a contemporary story to a large and traditionally-seasonal theatre-going audience – families and their children – who return to their local theatres year after year to experience the annual Christmas production of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol.
Santa.Com – The Musical presents an alternative for programming that includes a story to which most audience members can readily identify, containing characters with which they can easily relate, and humor, music and songs that can capture their imagination, hold their attention and remain within their memories.
John Louis Kallas, the son of Greek immigrants and a WW-II combat veteran with the 82nd Airborne Division, was a cartoonist and playwright who worked for many years as an engineer with the Bell Telephone system. John was best known as the author of Growing Up As A Greek American, a book of stories which defined the Greek-American experience as it was lived in Greek-American households all over the country during the 20th century. The book, John’s first, sold over 60,000 copies.
As a young man, during WW-II, John parachuted into Normandy the night before D-Day and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge and survived the jump across the Rhine River as the Allies pushed into Germany. After the war, John attended night school at Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he received a B.A. degree in fine arts, and later attended New York University, where he earned M.A and Ph.D. degrees. John rose from junior draftsman at Western Electric to become an electronics and computer designer at Bell Telephone Laboratories. After retiring from Bell Labs, John taught at New York University, SUNY, and The New School. He became a full-time professor at Fairleigh Dickinson, where he subsequently was chairman of the Microcomputers in Education Department before retiring to follow his passion as a playwright.
John participated in the Actors’ Studio Playwright Lab and later founded the Manhattan Playwrights Unit and was chairman of the board of directors for the Greek Theatre of New York. His play, The Maniati, based on a character from Greek mythology, was produced Off-Off Broadway at La Mama, ETC, in 1980, and Flights of Angels, a WW-II play revolving around an American Corporal’s struggle to marry his French sweetheart before his division departs for Germany, was produced regionally in 2002, at The Emelin Theatre, in Mamaroneck, after a developmental workshop with Stageplays Theatre Company. John’s other plays include Infinity, Santacom, Mispossessed, and Pandora. Santa.com–the musical, adapted from his play as a new musical for families, is in development with Stageplays.
The author of a score of nonfiction books, computer books and software, John was also a film maker, with two major films to his name: Tony Imperiale...Portrait of White Militant, and The Red Devils. John was a long-time Man of the Theatre member of The Players, New York’s premiere actors club, was the President of the Greek Writers Guild of America, and served on the board of directors of The Metropolitan Greek Chorale, with which he performed at Carnegie Hall.
John Kallas passed away on April 9, 2012, at age 89, from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. He was predeceased by his wife of 35 years, Judith Kallas, an actress and singer, who was also business manager and a partner in the Cornelia Street Café, a West Village institution which mounts 300 cultural events a year.
For the stage, Tom has written Ten Million Black Republicans (with Steve Gold), a comedy about the Congressional nominating process, A Howling Wilderness, a military court-martial drama during the time of the Philippine Insurrection (with John Chodes), and co-authored the book of a new musical, BELL (with Michael Treni), based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell and the American dream. He is currently working with Taylor Hallman on Thunder & Lightning, a morality tale set in the Negro Baseball Leagues on the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league sports, and also adapting Santa.Com, John Kallas's play about the down-sizing of Santa's workshop due to the internet shopping craze, into a new musical for families.
Tom has authored six original motion picture screenplays: Songs Without Words, a coming-of-age story set within the music industry; Mother-in-Law (with Taylor Hallman), a saga on racing and race relations during the early days of the American Civil Rights movement; Crossfire, a story of innocent bystanders caught up in the urban drug wars, adapted from the play by John Walsh; Florida, a story of the tapestry of life on the Mississippi Delta during the twentieth century (with Narroyl Parker); Love Object, a film noir thriller about love unattained (with James MacGuire); and Low Tide (with Bernard Mendillo), an investigative drama about illegal aliens, the drug trade, and corruption within the HSA.
Tom Ferriter directed and produced the world premieres of Kathleen Anderson Culebro's The Crying Woman/La Llorona, a cross-cultural drama on international misunderstandings, Off Broadway at the Beckett Theatre, Paul Enger's In The Air, a love story during the Great Flu epidemic of 1918, Off Broadway at Theatre 315, James MacGuire's Nanny (also co-producer), an American comedy of extended families at the Nottara Theatre-Bucharest, and the European premiere of Harding Lemay's From A Dark Land, a World War-II drama of complicity, at the National Theatre of Romania-Craiova (co-producer), after having produced and directed the premieres of Marlene Shyer's First Wife, at the Emelin Theatre (Mamaroneck), Diane Leslie's and Mary Orr's family musical, Enchanted Afternoon, and Frank O'Donnell's Twisters, Off Broadway at the Nat Horne Studio Theatre on New York's Theatre Row. Tom is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors' Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute's Master Producing Class.
Tom Ferriter has been a visiting professor to the Academy of Theatre in Bucharest, and a guest professor at the Academy of Theatre in Oslo. He was Performance Coach to America's Health Network, a 24-hour cable TV network transmitted by satellite to more than 10 million households across America, and was a member for three years of the faculty of The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where his classes included Acting for Film and Television, TV Commercial Acting, and Basic Acting Techniques. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business Management from California State University - San Francisco and an Associate of Arts degree in Economics from Santa Barbara City College.
Michael Valenti composed, arranged, and conducted the music for the Emmy Award winning television series; A WALK THROUGH THE 20th CENTURY. For CBS radio he shared the Peabody Award for NEWSMARK.
In 1995 Mr. Valenti composed PROCESSIONAL FOR A PONTIFF a large orchestral work which was written for the entrance of Pope John Paul II into Central Park, New York, on the occasion of his celebration of the Eucharist. The piece was performed again on April 19, 2008 for Pope Benedict XVI entrance into St. Patrick's Cathedral. On December 11, 2008 his Christmas carol "Sleep, Holy Infant" was sung by St. Patrick's choir in concert and again at midnight mass on Christmas Eve. In March of 1991 at St. Peter's Church he conducted the premier of his dramatic oratorio THE WAY which is based on the fourteen Stations of the Cross.
In its permanent repertory The Goldman Memorial Band at Lincoln Center has performed Mr. Valenti's MARCH PASHA, CAROLINA SEASONS, ORIENTAL MAGIC, THE GUGUE FUGUE, THE GRAND WALTZ FROM LOLA MONTEZ, and the concert band version of PROCESSIONAL FOR A PONTIFF. In August of 1987 he was given a retrospective at Lincoln Center under the direction of Maestro Ainslee Cox. The Goldman Memorial Band performed all of his published concert band music and premiered his BIG APPLE MARCH. In 1998 Mr. Valenti was invited by The Goldman Band to conduct the first performance of his BLACK HAWK MARCH, and in the summer of 2002 he performed as piano soloist with the band in the world premier of his MUSIC IN SEARCH OF A BALLET. On February 25, 2005 The GMB Band premiered his FESTIVAL MARCH at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. Michael Valenti has the distinction of being given more world premiers by The Goldman Memorial Band than any other composer in the bands long and celebrated history.
HYMNE A SAINT-BARTHELEMY, now the National Anthem of the small island of Saint Barthelemy in the Caribbean was commissioned by the Chorale de Bons Choeurs and was introduced by the choir of the same name on December 11, 1999.
In the spring of 2002 The Children's Orchestra Society under the baton of Michael Dadap premiered his THE LITTLE PARK ACROSS THE STREET at the Colden Center for the Performing Arts.
His MOOD PIECE (adagio for strings and harp) was first performed by the Oklahoma Symphony, and his ballet CONVERSATIONS has been performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and Spoletto.
In 2002 Michael Valenti composed the music for the 25th anniversary production of THE BIG APPLE CIRCUS and has subsequently each year composed for that organization. In 2007 from November 9th thru January 17th his original manuscripts were exhibited at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center.
In 2004 Marshall University established THE MICHAEL VALENTI MUSIC COLLECTION in the College of Fine Arts and THE MICHAEL VALENTI GRADUATE ASSISTANTSHIP where he has served as Composer-in-Residence.
His Broadway credits include OH BROTHER!, CLOTHES FOR A SUMMER HOTEL (Tennessee Williams' last play which starred Geraldine Page), HONKY TONK NIGHTS, BLACKSTONE!, and BLOOD RED ROSES. Off-Broadway he composed the scores for more than fifteen plays and musicals including LOVESONG, IN THE SUMMER HOUSE, (for the Manhattan Theatre Club), JUST FOR LOVE, SONG BY SONG (a review based on his theatre songs) and MADEMOISELLE COLOMBE which starred Tammy Grimes and was awarded five Outer Critic Circle Award nominations for which Mr. Valenti received two for best book, and best music for a musical. His SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is still the longest running children's musical ever produced in New York and his BEAUTY AND THE BEAST as well as SNOW WHITE continue to enjoy productions world wide. BASHVILLE IN LOVE, a musical he composed for the opening season of The Texas Stage Company was given the Best New Musical of the Year Award by The Dallas Morning News. His score for Williams' THE GLASS MENAGERIE has been performed in regional theaters throughout the country, as well as his music for UPTIGHT by Gunter Grass, and Donald Drivers' A WALK OUT OF WATER. In the fall of 2003 the Goodspeed Opera presented his musical O.HENRY'S LOVERS that he wrote with librettist Joe DiPietro.
He composed, arranged, conducted, and directed THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF JONATHAN WINTERS for the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, as well as composing the music for the Zev Bufman production of BAHAMA BOUND, which opened the Cable Beach Hotel in Nassau.
As a performer, Michael Valenti appeared in the original Broadway production of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WTHOUT REALLY TRYING, understudying the pivotal role of J. Pierrepont Finch. Off-Broadway he originated the role of Michael in YOUR OWN THING, and created the role of Tony Franco on NBC's THE DOCTORS.
His recorded albums include LOVESONG, OH BROTHER!, MUSIC IN SEARCH OF A MUSICAL, PIANO ROMANCES, SOUNDS OF CELEBRATIONPLAY MUSIC! The Stage and Television Music of Michael Valenti.
In 2010 The Portland Orchestra under the direction of Yaacov Bergman premiered STORY OF AN HOUR; the second piece in his CHRISTMAS TRILOGY.
Other published works include "Sleep Holy Infant" from STORY OF AN HOUR the one act opera BEAU NASH first performed by the Portland Chamber Orchestra, a song cycle entitled SOLITUDE, WEDDING MARCH for organ and brass, 12 PIANO PRELUDES, IMPROMPTU for cello and piano, 10 NOCTURNES for piano, RHAPSODY FOR CLARINET and piano, DANCES FOR FLUTE AND PIANO, FIVE SONATINAS for piano, ON RUSSIAN HILL for Horn in F and piano, and TEN DANCES FOR WOODWIND QUINTET. And for children, THE MUSICAL TELEPHONE BOOK for piano, THE COFFEE GRINDER for flute and piano, and ten FANCIES for piano solo.