Stage Presence

Area playhouses offer a
variety of holiday themed shows

Traditional, nontraditional plays
can add joy to the season

December 2014
Edition Cover

(December 2014) – Christmas is a time for traditions. Family dinners and gatherings are a typical activity of the season. However, the guests eventually leave and the dishes need to be done and the house put back in order. A Christmas play, on the other hand, offers the opportunity for family and friends to enjoy a performance and perhaps a meal with no other tasks but to decide to what to wear and which performance to see.
For a traditional holiday play in a historic setting, the Park Theatre Civic Centre, 25 N. Madison Ave., in North Vernon, Ind., will be offering a production of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The Park Theatre has been the cultural center of the town since 1916. According to play director Josh Shafer, the theatre has undergone numerous updates in recent years, including a state-of-the-art sound and light system. Original brick walls and the original tin ceiling lend to the illusion that one has stepped back in time. This 330-seat theatre has been decorated for the holidays and provides the perfect festive setting for a Christmas play.

Holiday Themed Plays
in the Region

• Dec. 1-23: “A Christmas Carol.” At Actors Theatre of Louisville, 300 W. Main St. (502) 584-1205 or visit: www.ActorsTheatre.org.

• Dec. 1-20 on Saturday evenings; Fridays Dec. 5, 12, and Jan. 3. “The Twelve Murders of Christmas.” Presented by Whodunnit Murder Mystery Theatre at Hilton Garden Inn, 2735 Crittenden Dr., Louisville, Ky. (502) 426-7100 or visit: www.Whodunnitky.com.

• Dec. 1-31: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” At Derby Dinner Playhouse, 525 Marriott Dr., Clarksville, Ind. (812) 288-8281 or visit: www.DerbyDinner.com.

• Dec. 5-7: “It’s a Wonderful Life.” At Park Theatre Civic Center, 25 N. Madison Ave., North Vernon, Ind. (812) 346-0330 or visit: www.park-theatre.org.

• Dec. 5-7: “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” A production by the Little Grand Theatre Co. at the Ohio Theatre, 105 E. Main St., Madison, Ind. (812) 273-4821 or visit: www.LittleGrandTheatreCompany.org.

• Dec. 5-21: “Forgive Me, It’s Christmas.” At Bunbury Theatre inside the Henry Clay Building, 604 S. Third St., Louisville, Ky. (502) 585-5306 or visit: www.KentuckyCenter.org.

• Dec. 6: “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.” At the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky. (502) 562-0100 or visit: www.KentuckyCenter.org.

• Dec. 6-20: “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Presented by Stage One at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky. (502) 562-0100 or visit: www.StageOne.org.

• Dec. 6, 13, 20: “The Most Famous Reindeer of All.” Breakfast and lunch showtimes only. At Derby Dinner Playhouse, 525 Marriott Dr., Clarksville, Ind. (812) 288-8281 or visit: www.DerbyDinner.com.

• Dec. 11-14; Dec. 18-21: “The Kings of Christmas.” A comedy at the Bards Town, 1801 Bardstown Rd. (502) 749-5275 or visit: www.TheBardsTown.com.

• Dec. 13: “Do You See What I See?” At the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St., Louisville, Ky. (502) 562-0100 or visit: www.KentuckyCenter.org.

Shafer says some of the actors have come from as far away as Louisville, Ky., to participate in this well-known play. The production is being presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5-6 by the Jennings County Players, and again at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7. Adult tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. More information can be obtained at www.park-theatre.org or by calling (812) 346-0330.
As it has for the last 39 seasons, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, 300 W. Main St., will present the Fifth Third Bank’s “A Christmas Carol,” based on the book by Charles Dickens. According to Associate Director of Communications Kirsty Gaukel, this is the second-longest continuous showing of the production in the country.
This year brings many changes to this local favorite. Gaukel says that the revamped favorite production boasts new scenery, costumes and props. She adds that the changes made to the costumes alone is worth seeing.
Costume director Kristopher Castle oversaw the creation of 98 complete costumes, which add up to 250 individual pieces of clothing. “The attention to detail in the costumes is an amazing undertaking,” Gaukel says.
The script remains familiar as does the score with a few changes and additions. The production promises to remain the story that everyone loves with a few surprises. Many of the actors will be returning to the stage in their usual roles, including the ever-popular William McNulty as Ebenezer Scrooge. The show runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23. Tickets are available via the Actors Theatre website or by calling the box office at (502) 584-1205.
The Little Grand Theatre Co. will present a production of the iconic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at the Ohio Theatre, 105 E. Main St., in downtown Madison, Ind. Auditions were open to actors age 16 and up. This timeless story of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts gang will be performed in the balcony house of the theatre at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, and at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-7. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for children age 11 and under.

Photo provided

Bunbury Theater’s production
of “Forgive Me, It’s Christmas”
will feature actors (from left)
Liz Vissing, Mike Burmester,
Sharon Becher, Katie Graviss,
Jerarrin Kennerly, Brad Castleberry (in background), Virgina Pollack
(in foreground) and Diane Kane.

The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, 501 W. Main St., in Louisville provides many choices for those looking for holiday entertainment for the entire family. The Louisville Ballet will perform the beloved Brown-Forman “The Nutcracker” from Dec. 6-21. The classic musical score, written by Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, will be performed by the Louisville Orchestra.
This well-known story takes the viewer on a tour of the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy and is thrilling for all ages. Tickets range from $32 to $105.

Photo provided

Sara King will play Mary Hatch, Edward Miskie will play George Bailey, and Chandler Baker will
play Zuzu Bailey in Derby Dinner Playhouse’s production of
“It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Stage One, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading theatre for young audiences and families,” will be offering a production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at the Kentucky Center. Back by popular demand, the play tells the story of the Herdmans, a group of misbehaving children who have taken over a church’s yearly Christmas pageant. Will Christmas be ruined or will the spirit of the season overcome? Showtimes are available from Dec. 6-20. Adult tickets are $20.

Photo by Jenny Straub Youngblood

Laura Ratcliff (right) directs actors McKay Burdette and Jake Taylor in the Little Grand Theatre’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at the Ohio Theater in Madison, Ind. The play will run Dec. 5-7 at the Ohio Theater’s upstairs performance hall.

The Kentucky Center will also be presenting “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” for the first time. This adaption of the television favorite is sure to delight everyone in this “new holiday tradition that speaks to the misfit in all of us.” This production will only be available on Dec. 6. Ticket prices range from $25 to $55.
In conjunction with the Kentucky Center, Angels in Disguise will present “Do You See What I See?” a family concert and celebration of “the gift of Down Syndrome.” A national charity, Angels in Disguise is pleased to present country music artist Collin Raye, along with Maddy Curtis and her brother, Jonny. Curtis will share her testimony of growing up with four brothers with Down Syndrome. This performance is Dec. 13, and tickets are $15.
The Bunbury Theatre Co., located at the Henry Clay Building at 604 S. Third St., Louisville, Ky., will be presenting a new play titled, “Forgive Me It’s Christmas.” It is written by resident Producing Artistic Director Juergen K. Tossman.
Since 1991, Tossman, 51, has produced more than 130 plays and written 14. This is his fifth holiday play, and it promises to bring the laughs. Veteran comedic actors Brad Castleberry, Mike Burmester and Liz Vissig lead the cast in this family friendly story of Meryl and his brother, Loomis, as their family participates in a struggle between greed and kindness at the family’s Christmas gathering. Many Louisville references are made in this original play, and it is sure to delight locals and visitors alike.
Tossman says that his plays are very character-driven, and that the play began with his idea of Loomis, a horse trainer, who has spent many years looking for the perfect horse to help revive his standing in the Kentucky horse world. Showtimes are available from Dec. 5-21. General admission is $22 with reduced prices for seniors and students.

Photo courtesy of Bill Brymer

The Ghost of Christmas Present
(Lee Palmer) shows Scrooge
(William McNulty) the Crachit family’s Christmas as part of “A Christmas Carol” at Actors Theatre.

For those who enjoy dinner theatre, there are two options available. Derby Dinner Playhouse, 525 Marriott Dr., in Clarksville, Ind., will be showing “It’s a Wonderful Life” from Nov. 18 to Dec. 31. This familiar film classic has been set to music written by Grammy and Emmy Award winner Joe Raposo. The Derby Dinner is theatre “in the round,” which is set up with the stage in the center and the audience seated on all sides. This means that all seats are great seats, according to Marketing Director Annie Myers.
The role of George Bailey will be played by Edward Miskie, 28, who’s voice has been described to be like velvet by the Norwich Post. Mary Hatch-Bailey will be portrayed by Sara King, 25, who has been hailed as a “stand out performer” by Louisville.com. Tickets are $37 for matinée performances and $41 for evening. Entrees, sides and salad bar are included in the price of the tickets as well as coffee, water and tea. Soft drinks, speciality drinks and dessert are not included.
Derby Dinner Playhouse also plans to present a production of “The Most Famous Reindeer of All,” which tells the tale of Rudolph the misfit reindeer. This show is available for Breakfast and Lunch showings. Tickets are $16 for breakfast and $21 for lunch.
Last but not least is a holiday murder mystery acted out by the lively WhoDunnit Murder Mystery Theatre in Louisville, Ky. “The Twelve Murders of Christmas” was written by A.S. Waterman, who has written many of the theatre’s productions. The show opened in November and runs every Saturday through Dec. 20, plus Fridays, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12, and Jan. 3. The show tells the story of six strangers who have gathered at a beautiful mansion after receiving invitations to an extravagant holiday party. Six strangers and 12 murders – how does that work? The answer will be revealed during the show.
All Whodunnit shows are double cast. They are available for private parties. This enables the group to be hired for special events even on an evening of a scheduled show.
Whodunnit actress and Creative Director Beth Olliges says the show is light-hearted and promises to bring a “lot of laughs.” Olliges, 48, adds that the show is never the same since the audience interactions will require an improvised reaction from members of the cast.
Whodunnit productions are shown at the Hilton Garden Inn, 2735 Crittenden Dr. Tickets are $45.50 and includes the show, meal, tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling (502) 426-7100.
Holiday revelers certainly have their work cut out for them when making a decision regarding which of these fascinating plays to attend. Traditional or contemporary, funny or heartfelt? All options are available this season. Whichever decision is made, a trip to a theatre is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with loved ones.

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