The cast of “A Recycled Christmas" includes, from left, Nathaniel Schatz, Hannah Lange, Allyson Horsman, Samantha Wernimont, William Jahn, Faith Lange, Emily Biermann, Lily Freet and Abby Biermann. " A Recycled Christmas," part of Christmas on Historic Broadway, will be performed this Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Spring Valley Community Center. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
The cast of “A Recycled Christmas" includes, from left, Nathaniel Schatz, Hannah Lange, Allyson Horsman, Samantha Wernimont, William Jahn, Faith Lange, Emily Biermann, Lily Freet and Abby Biermann. " A Recycled Christmas," part of Christmas on Historic Broadway, will be performed this Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Spring Valley Community Center. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Ashley Cleveland's teaching a Claus or two.

"Santa learns that you don't have to give new gifts to make them meaningful to the recipient," said Cleveland, director of the Brave Community Theatre (BCT) production, "A Recycled Christmas," which will take the stage at the Spring Valley Community Center on Saturday, Dec. 14, during BCT's eighth annual Christmas on Historic Broadway celebration. "He learns that if money is tight, try to think outside the box...maybe you have a gently used item that someone you know could use more than you, like a winter coat or food donations. He learns that gifts don't have to be expensive to mean something."

The director chose this children's play, featuring a cast of local children and adults, because she was impressed by its message. "I thought this show had a great meaning behind it. I know how tight the holiday season can be with money, and I tend to make most of my gifts, so I figured that this play might inspire people to think outside the proverbial box and give gifts that don't cost money or a lot of money. I know that when I was a kid, money was always tight and we didn't get a lot of expensive gifts - a lot of the gifts ended up being something we needed, like educational gifts such as books, math toys, logic puzzles and clothing."

Cleveland enjoys rehearsals, which began Nov. 7, because she revels in the enthusiasm that her young actors and actresses bring to the stage. "The cast makes this show. I love how much energy the kids have for rehearsal and how many ideas they want to put towards the show. If I'd let them, they'd direct the show themselves. That's how much enthusiasm this cast has. They are awesome."

Though she feels that the cast does actually "make" the show, she had some challenges rounding up enough people to fill it out the cast of 14 people, with a possibility to have extras. The time commitment was an issue as there are so many activities going on this time of the year, Cleveland said she makes sure that she's not over-extending her actors, and make sure that the kids are having time to keep up with homework and school.

The educational experience that acting in "A Recycled Christmas" gives the young thespians is invaluable, according to the director. "It gives the kids a chance to grow as actors. They get to continue to develop through try-outs and auditions, rehearsals, and through performing and exposure to being on stage. These are skills they can take with them throughout life in any field of study they choose."

Cleveland has directed two other shows - one in college at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls called "The Love Course" and one for BCT last winter, "Angels with Paper Wings." She also co-directed the "Seven Dwarfs and the Next Generation" with Debi Neville this past summer.

She hopes that audiences enjoy "the cuteness and special meaning behind this show...that it doesn't matter how much you spend at Christmas as long as it means something to you and the recipient."

The BCT production of "A Recycled Christmas" is set for Saturday, Dec. 14, at 1:30 and 3 p.m. at the Spring Valley Community Center. Admission is free, and Cleveland encouraged Christmas on Historic Broadway celebrants to take a moment to watch.

"It is a great way to spend the day, enjoying a simply cute and awesome show that includes a sing-along," she said.