The musical being performed by the Youth Theatre of Northern Baltimore County next month is an original one, with script, music and lyrics written by director Mary Miller.
"Treasures of the Heart" is not your typical Christmas play. No Rudolph. No Frosty. No chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
But the inspirational story and songs are guaranteed to get the audience in the spirit of the season. It will be presented at Our Lady of Grace hall Dec. 1 through 4.
"This play is a true story based on my experiences at a homeless shelter in Baltimore," said Miller, who has written several other plays for the children's theater. "It shows that people in a shelter are pretty normal, they've just run into hard times. I saw wonderful people there with wonderful spirit. Good can happen when people care and see Jesus in everybody they meet."
Her play features a group of teenagers who volunteer at the shelter. Ian Musciano, 16, plays a boy who has to work there to get his community service hours.
He sings, "A Bum Rap," a rap song about wanting to live the life of a bum.
"At first, it's all about me and I don't care about the homeless," he said. "It takes me a while to change my attitude."
Then there's Maddy Walters, 15, who plays a ultra-positive teen, seeing the best in all. Kaitlyn Fowler, 16, is a teen whose parents don't think she appreciates what she has, so they sign her up to spend time at the shelter.
The shelter is filled with characters who share their stories. There's a teen runaway, a Vietnam veteran, a mother with two children who couldn't meet their bills and two sisters whose parents died.
"I had no idea these were all real people," Fowler said. "It really makes you see them as individuals, not just homeless people."
There are 70 children involved in the play both on stage and behind the scenes. They come from 17 public, parochial and private schools. Miller makes sure that any student who wants a speaking role gets at least one line on stage.
As she has done in the past, Miller asks audience members to bring a nonperishable food item that will be donated to local food banks.
Show times on Dec. 1, 2 and 3 are 7 p.m. A matinee on Dec. 5 begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Reserved seats in the first three rows are available for $18 per person.
Our Lady of Grace is located at 18310 Middletown Road, Parkton.
For information, call 410-329-6826.