The latest production at the Mitchell Area Community Theatre promises a magical atmosphere that will enchant the audience with the spirit of Christmas.

Director Vicki Hansen and her 14-member cast will debut the Christmas classic "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" this weekend.

"Sometimes, all we need to renew our faith in hope, joy, love and the magic of Christmas is a simple question answered by The Sun," Hansen said.

Two compelling stories come together in this heartwarming play inspired by a famous editorial published in the New York Sun in 1897. As the story goes, Laura Virginia O'Hanlon of New York City was eight years old when she asked her father whether Santa Claus is real.

Her father recommended she write a letter to the well-known newspaper, and if she saw it mentioned in the paper, she would know it was true.

Meanwhile, a young newspaper editor also struggles against tough holiday times, as he is faced with losing his job if he can't find his writer's voice by morning. His editorial response to O'Hanlon is now known all over the world and has the distinction of being the most reprinted editorial in the English language.

"When I initially read this play, I was heartbroken," Hansen said. "The writer has taken some artistic license with the story, but it is really a sweet and poignant story where the characters just grow with you."

The characters, Mary Lou and her sister, come from a disadvantaged background and do not believe in Santa Claus, which inspired Hansen to take this play beyond the stage.

"We challenged our cast to reach out to the Mitchell community and share the spirit of giving, so we paired with CASA for a gift card drive," Hansen said.

CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, serves almost 90 children in the Mitchell area.

The cast went beyond its initial goal of raising 35 gift cards valued at $5 each to give to the CASA children, challenged the theater board to raise an additional 35 gift cards and inspired the students of John Paul II Elementary to donate the proceeds of their own fundraising efforts.

"Taking this show and having such an impact on the community, not only on stage, is so amazing," Hansen said.

Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday at the Pepsi-Cola Theatre for the Performing Arts. The production will be held again at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7-8 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 9. Ticket prices range from $15 to $17.