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‘Old Neon Star’ open Christmas Eve night

Courtesy of Lou Wiebe Dave Dougherty practices for the upcoming “Old Neon Star” performance at Harvest Community Church. The event will begin 5 p.m. and is open to the public.


The holidays often evoke a sense of joy and harmony; however, some individuals face a different story.

“They might be struggling with health or finances, so this whole presentation kind of deals with all those facets,” said Lou Wiebe, the creator of ‘Old Neon Star.’

“At the end, it shows that God is the divine intervention for all of this. He’s got the solution for all of it if we just listen.”

Wiebe, 62, a real estate agent in Madera, first thought of creating a Christmas show after watching an orchestra five years prior.

“My wife and I went to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live in Fresno about five years ago and the music just captured our hearts and, so we bought the CD,” Wiebe said. “We listened to it nonstop throughout the holiday season and so this year I thought it would be so awesome if we could throw together a program along with the music.”

It’s different than your typical Christmas story. Wiebe created a visual representation of everyday individuals struggling and in need. He takes the idea of assistance through divine help, but also from the community as the remedy to our struggles.

Along with the help from drama director Louis Leonard, 58, Wiebe’s unique approach is a twist on the typical Christmas story.

“It’s geared more to like real-world life experience,” Leonard said. “I just think it’s a unique Christmas service, because it’s not a traditional service. Even though we are sharing the same story, I guess you can say it’s a more real-life kind of story. Hopefully it will touch people and help see Christmas in a different light.”

Wiebe wrote the bones of the script in early October and started practicing the production before Halloween.

Both Wiebe and Leonard play a role in the production and they aren’t the only locals in the set up. The entire cast and crew is Madera native.

“They absolutely are, all of them are from Madera,” Wiebe said enthusiastically. “It gives it a real hometown feel because it’s all local talent and people that are in other positions but on this night, they become musicians, they become actors and lighting techs. It is just an evening that really transforms everybody, whether they are in the audience or part of the drama.”

The show will be held at Harvest Community Church at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve and it’s free to the public. However, with a little more than 250 seats available, it’s important to arrive early.

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