Some people see only the sadness in "The Gift of the Magi." But the lead actress in the upcoming production has another take.
"I feel like they're missing the point," Caroline Feduccia says. "These two people do what they do out of pure love, and that's the true gift."
Fedducia, a 16-year-old student at St. Joseph's Academy, will play Della to Brent Threadgill's Jim in Theatre Baton Rouge's annual Young Actors Program production Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
The story is set in the early 20th century, and newlyweds Jim and Della have little money yet a strong desire to buy each other the perfect Christmas gift.
Della has her eye on a platinum watch fob chain for Jim's pocket watch. Jim wants to buy Della a set of ornamental combs for her long, beautiful hair.
Each makes a sacrifice with heartwarming results that even the Hallmark Channel couldn't touch.
This is the third year the Young Actors have produced O. Henry's classic story, which includes lyrics and music by Peter Eckstrom. It's one of director Jack Lambert's favorites, which is why he's careful about choosing his actors.
"I never have auditions for this show," he says. "I always look for the two actors with the best chemistry, because I know it won't work any other way."
While the chemistry is there between Feduccia and Threadgill, so is the trust.
"We've been friends for a long time," says Threadgill, a freshman at LSU. "We've been in a lot of shows together, but this one is different. These two people make the ultimate sacrifice for each other at Christmas, and I don't think it would translate as pure and real if Caroline and I didn't already know and trust each other."
Feduccia was the assistant director for last year's production, so she knows the story. Still, there's a difference between directing and acting.
"She was focused on the guts of the show last year," Lampert says. "I was doing the staging, and Caroline was giving the actors deep insight into the story."
This year, Feduccia is able to apply her research to her own performance.
"I knew I would be comfortable doing this show when I found out Brent was chosen for it," she says.
"The Gift of the Magi" marks Threadgill's final production with the Young Actors program.
"After rehearsing this show so many times, I'm more grateful for the things I have and for the people around me," he says. "The dynamic between Jim and Della is so pure, real and unconditional, and it makes me think about those things in my own life."
'The Gift of the Magi'
Theatre Baton Rouge's Young Actors program's production
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
WHERE: Studio Theatre, Theatre Baton Rouge, 7155 Florida Blvd.
TICKETS/INFO: $19. (225) 924-6496 or theatrebr.org