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"A 'Bundle' of joy visits for holidays"

by Kathey Clarey
The Fresno Bee
, Friday, November 29, 1996

What's a playwright to do when he hates a classic tale? Fresno's Marcel Nunis added a twist and called it his own.

When Fresno playwright Marcel Nunis tells people his "A Bundle of Wishes" is adapted from Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Match Girl," they express deep affection for the story.

They have no idea how much he hates it.

"What happens? She hallucinates, and she dies," Nunis said. "I don't see the point."

He wrote "A Bundle of Wishes" for Fresno Playhouse in 1988, keeping the basic elements of Anderson's story and adding a twist. The setting shifts between contemporary Fresno and the city in 1912. The show opens tonight for three weekends at Memorial Auditorium.

"It isn't really a Christmas show," director Nate Butler said. "But it has the Christmas spirit of hope, compassion, and giving."

Alexandria stills sells matches on the street and lives in poverty with her sick grandmother.

"I wanted her to have a zest for life, sort of like Tatum O'Neal in 'Paper Moon,'" Nunis said. "I also added the kind of characters who would have been around Fresno in 1912 -- miners, nouveau riche, immigrants."

Nunis and Butler worked together in Nunis' Theatre J'Nerique company at the Playhouse and the Fresno Metropolitan Museum. Next month, they'll do "Santa Claus, This Is Your Life," a spoof of the old TV program, for school tours and on weekends at the Met. "A Bundle of Wishes" is a volunteer effort.

"They asked me to do the show for free, because they have no budget, and I couldn't turn them down," Butler said. "I did my first play 20 years ago with Fresno Playhouse. That's where I learned social skills and how to be on a stage."

He and Nunis emphasize that "A Bundle of Wishes" is not strictly a kid's play.

"It's a family show in one act with no intermission," Butler said. "Afterward, you can hang out with the cast in the lobby with cookies and punch."

"I don't write down to kids," Nunis said. "Kids are hip. I wrote what I would have wanted to see as a kid."

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