ACT’s Christmas show will get people in spirit of season

Published 8:54 am Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving was just last week and it seems Halloween was only the week before that. Now, uh-oh. Here comes Christmas.

With everything from Christmas pageant rehearsals to Secret Santa gifts, decorations and holiday weddings, how can a person find the meaning of the holiday?

With its holiday show, “Uh-Oh. Here Comes Christmas,” Albert Lea Community Theatre is managing to do just that. The play, written by Ernest Zulia and David Caldwell, and based on books written by Robert Fulghum, opens tonight at the Marion Ross Performing Arts Center. It is directed by Gordy Handeland.

Email newsletter signup

With just five actors, a pianist and a special cameo appearance by the stage manager, this show tells a number of short stories about holiday themes that seem to touch everyone.

It opens with the whole cast — Joanne Fox, Mark Place, Steve Schwartz, Tony Segura and Carrie Boyer-Olvera — singing about being a Scrooge and having “scroogitis.”

Boyer-Olvera tells the story about the little refugee boy who comes trick-or-treating in a Santa mask only to become a one-man choir delivering Christmas door-to-door.

The whole cast recounts a Christmas pageant in which pretty much anything that could have gone wrong did.

Segura and Boyer-Olvera tell the story of a couple who fall in love, marry, have children (but not dogs, per their pre-nuptial agreement), only to acquire one at the school fundraising auction.

Her love-hate relationship with poinsettias is the recurring theme for Fox throughout the play.

Fox and Boyer-Olvera touch on the hopes and dreams of the Secret Santa exchange, and conclude that it really is the gift that counts.

Among one of the most touching segments in the show are Schwartz’s reminiscences of a paper bag containing his daughter’s most prized possessions. He called it “love in a paper sack.” “Of all the presents I’ve ever received, this one best represented the spirit of the season,” he said.

The whole cast, with the help of stage manager Debra Koenigs as the grandmother of the groom, recount a Jewish-Catholic wedding and why it is the season to be married.

Place and Segura take their turns at bell-ringing for the Salvation Army and share why it’s an important family tradition.

There are recipes as well as confessions of all sorts shared at the refrigerator.

Place shares a Christmas letter and Fox the story of the time she got the juggler to perform at the Christmas Eve church service. There are also a number of other little stories woven throughout the show, which lasts just under two hours, including intermission. There are also songs, some familiar, some not, accompanied by musical director Deb Cooper.

Handleland created the simple set and light design is by Mike Wangen and Emily Staloch.

So if things seem to be moving a little too fast this holiday season, take a few minutes to see this sometimes funny, sometimes poignant show. It will put you in the mood like a star atop a tree.

“Uh-Oh. Here Comes Christmas” runs tonight through Saturday and Dec. 10 to 13. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. For tickets, call the box office at 377-4371.