My daughter is playing the title role, and I am the newspaper editor to whom she finally writes in search of answers as to whether Santa Claus is real. On the way, Virginia and her little friend Ollie look to the librarian and her books for help. All along Virginia is plagued by a bully, played by NINA, a graduate of our school.
As for me, I play the crusty old curmudgeon, Francis Church. Church is only interested in cold, hard facts, because "that's what sells papers". In my big solo, I sing that sentiment (and participate in some choreography). Mr. Church keeps that attitude until the end of the play, when he, of course, succumbs to the heart of childhood and creates the most famous editorial response of all time.
The music is terrific and catchy, and there may even be some tears in this one.
Virginia O'Hanlon was interviewed on the radio in 1963 (66 years after her letter was answered), and you may listen to her actual voice on the CBC Digital Archives. She died in 1971 at the age of 81.
The letter itself was appraised on Antiques Roadshow a few years ago.