Grace Community Bible Church presented performances of “The Basket of Flowers” at the Liz Polley Center for the Performing Arts in Burney on February 9 and 10.
The play is a Lamplighter Theatre adaptation of a children’s story written by the 19th Century Bavarian cleric, teacher, and author, Christoph Von Schmid. The Burney production was performed by a full cast of sixteen actors under the direction of Deborah Hathaway.
The tale tells the story of a fifteen year old girl named Mary, the daughter of the castle gardener. Her father is a humble pious man who uses the flowers to teach lessons of faith to his daughter. She is befriended by the daughter of the countess. After a visit to the castle, a diamond ring disappears and Mary is accused of stealing it and thrown into prison awaiting trial.
When Mary refuses to confess, her father is also arrested. A jealous maid testifies that she saw Mary leaving the castle with the ring and the judge finds her guilty. The penalty for stealing from royalty is death.
Thanks to the intercession of the Countess and her daughter, the lives of Mary and her father are spared. However, they are banished for life from the land. For over two years they wander homeless through the woods. When her father takes ill during a storm and lies unconscious under a bridge during a torrential storm, Mary finds a kind couple who takes them in and nurses her father to recovery.
Eventually, Mary’s aging father dies as Mary reads him verses from the Bible. The couple with whom they stay are no longer able to maintain their farm and turn it over to their son and his wife. The daughter-in-law is a selfish domineering woman who puts Mary out on a cold dark night.
In the meantime, however, the countess and her daughter have discovered the true cause of the disappearance of the ring. They set off to find Mary and in the end justice and mercy prevail. The faith of Mary’s father is vindicated.
Before the final scene, Pastor Henry Winkelman, who played the judge, gave a short talk about forgiveness with an invitation to receive God’s love and mercy through faith in Jesus.
The tale is told in beautiful language. Through the subplots, human nature, both good and bad is explored. The character development portrayed by the actors was marvelous causing the audience to break into applause after numerous scenes.
The lead character Mary was played by two actors. Young Mary was played by Savannah Niemeir. Older Mary was played by Trisha Niemeir. Her father James was played by Seth Landers. Other cast member were Brian Winkelman, Arden Hathaway, Millie Hathaway, Cierra Niemeir, Breanna Landers, Timothy Landers, Henry Winkelman, Stephen McDermeit, Kendra Hathaway, Zachary Paramo, Luke Niemeir, Brenda Hathaway, and Lydia Winkelman.
The entire drama was accompanied by a lovely musical score. Hillary Fahey provided free access to the wardrobe closet at Shasta Community College to provide the actors with their marvelous costumes. More than three dozen people contributed their time and talent working in various production teams to make the performance possible.