WANT TO GO?
"The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus"
WHERE: Alban Arts Center
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Dec. 20-21, 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 22
TICKETS: Adults $15, seniors and children $10
INFO: Call 304-721-8896 or visit www.albanartscenter.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's no way around it. John Johnson sounded undeniably jolly. Even over the phone, you can almost imagine the belly of St. Alban's official Santa Claus shaking like the proverbial "bowl full of jelly."
Once again, Johnson is in another holiday production. This time around, he's one of the stars of the Alban Arts Center's production of "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus."
It's not exactly a stretch for him.
"I'm always in Santa Claus form," the 36-year-old said, chuckling.
The show opens Friday at the Alban Arts Center, and Johnson again plays Santa Claus, which is pretty easy for the actor. He typically spends the entire month of December appearing as the jolly old elf.
However, this performance isn't Johnson's usual turn as the man in red. Johnson, who's a professional Santa and a veritable walking encyclopedia of all things Claus, usually plays a more traditional version.
"It's a completely fantasy take on Santa," Johnson said of the production. "It's based on the book by L. Frank Baum, who wrote 'The Wizard of Oz.' This is his perspective of where Santa Claus came from."
And Baum's perspective is fantastical with elves, fairies and magic. It's not really that different from his "Oz" stories and, in fact, Johnson said "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" wasn't the only time Baum wrote about Santa.
He put in an appearance in "The Road to Oz," along with Dorothy, Toto, the Cowardly Lion and many of the characters Baum introduced in the 14 canonical books about Oz.
"So Santa has been to the land of Oz," Johnson said, pleased.