NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A Christmas tradition North Texans have enjoyed for decades could be coming to an abrupt end. Funding for the annual Fort Worth production of “The Littlest Wiseman” will be cut Dec. 31.
The show has entertained generations of families for the past 59 years.
“It has touched so many lives, thousands of lives over the decades,” Executive Producer, R. Kent Schmedel, said. “And I hear from so many people every year that this is what starts their Christmas.”
It’s been a Christmas gift to the community since 1960, personally funded by a philanthropic Fort Worth couple. The public has never had to pay for tickets.
The couple’s foundation kept the tradition alive after their deaths, but “The Littlest Wiseman” and the accompanying Dorothy Shaw Bell Choir got word in November that funding would be cut by the end of the year.
“This has been a gift to the city for 59 years,” said Johnny Nickerson, who has been a part of the production for more than 20 years. “So it’s just like taking a part out of your life when it’s gone.”
Since the play and the choir began performing at the William Edrington Scott Theatre in 1966, more than 150,000 people have seen the show. More than 4,000 cast, crew and choir members have contributed their talents to the more than 400 performances.
“I think — and many people think — that it’s part of what makes Fort Worth, Fort Worth,” Schmedel said.
As the curtain rises on another weekend of performances, they hope the magic of the productive motives people to give. They need donors to save this longstanding holiday tradition.
There are performances scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.