Best Bets: Kent Theatre Guild takes on holidays with ‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told’

From left, Jeff Bellon as Yukon Cornelius, Arthur Paul as Ebeneezer Scrooge and Christopher Baughan as Frosty the Snowman are three of the characters in Kent County Theatre Guild’s production of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some)” starting tonight at the guild’s Patchwork Playhouse in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Starting Friday night, Kent County Theatre Guild has a show for those who don’t take themselves — or the holidays — very seriously.

“Every Christmas Story Every Told (and then some),” written by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald and John K. Alvarez, is a madcap romp through, as the title says, every Christmas story ever told.

“It’s off the wall and that’s the whole fun of it,” said John Muller, who is directing the show with his wife, Nancy.

“Every community theater has done ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ to death around the holidays. They rotate them. Now they are doing ‘Elf’ this year since it’s finally available. But when it’s not available, they will go back to doing ‘A Christmas Story’ or ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’”

In the three-person show, one of the characters indeed wants to do “A Christmas Carol” and starts the play in costume as Ebeneezer Scrooge until his two castmates tell him they are tired of ‘A Christmas Carol’ and want to branch off into other holiday areas.

The rest of the two-hour-plus production snowballs in myriad Christmas directions.

“It even talks about people getting depressed over the holidays with references to things like that. ‘A Christmas Story’ gets a quick line with a reference to a Red Ryder BB gun. Any holiday special, movie or TV show is there,” Mr. Muller said.

The first act has allusions to “Frosty the Snowman,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” fruitcakes, “The Nutcracker,” the Norelco Christmas commercial, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and much, much more.

The second act is combination of “A Christmas Carol” with “It’s a Wonderful Life” and ending with a mashup of Christmas songs.

“The audience will sit back and say ‘I remember that.’ It will be very nostalgic for people,” Mr. Muller said.

Actors Jeff Bellon, Christopher Baughan and Arthur Paul play themselves in the show and then take turns re-enacting Christmas favorites.

“I think I play about nine characters, including myself,” said Mr. Paul, who begins the production ready to do “A Christmas Carol” until he gets sidetracked repeatedly by the other two.

“It’s a really unique play. We get to all be ourselves until get to be another character’s persona,” said Mr. Bellon.

“It’s a really unique concept. If we’re not in a costume, we are Jeff, Chris or Art. Then there are times when we are Frosty, The Grinch or Yukon Cornelius.”

Yukon Cornelius is a character from the Rankin/Bass special “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” But as they point out in the show, they dare not mention Rudolph’s name because it is still owned by the Montgomery Ward Corporation.

The play is performed at breakneck speed with costume changes aplenty.

“Sometimes it’s just as simple as changing a hat,” Mr. Paul said.

Christopher Baughan portrays Linus from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in the Kent County Theatre Guild production of “Every Christmas Ever Told (and then some).” (Delaware State News/Craig Horleman)

“In two or three minutes, you can be two or three different characters. It’s basically everything you wanted to know about Christmas but you were afraid to ask. No doubt everyone’s favorite is touched on at some point.”

Mr. Paul, a veteran actor who has been in plays with theater companies in all three Delaware counties, says the pace is something he had to adapt to.

“I’m used to shows where you can steel yourself for a couple of minutes before you have to go back out,” he said.

“But with this, you can’t. But you do what you need to do to get it done.”

Mr. Bellon has had several parts in KCTG productions over the last few years but says this is the most “line-intensive” show he has been in.

“And we don’t want to deliver the lines wrong. It may be just three words but if we mess up those three words, the audience may not get the reference to another holiday show,” he said.

“So we need to deliver the lines exactly as written so everyone is picking it up. But as a team, we’ve done very well in getting where we need to be. It’s almost like doing standup comedy.”

For Mr. Baughan, this his first show with Kent County Theatre Guild and first since high school in Illinois 11 years ago. He jumped in head first with this one.

“When I initially read through it, I thought this would be fun. Then I was cast and I read through the whole thing and I said ‘Oh no, what happened here?’” he said with a laugh.

“But these guys have been incredible. The cast, directors, the entire crew … it’s been a wild ride. But I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Mr. Baughan is a staff sergeant in the Force Support Squadron at Dover Air Force Base where he is an instructor for the Airman Leadership School. He has been based in Delaware for six years.

“I give all credit to my wife Christina. She pushed me to do it. She said ‘Go audition. You’ve been wanting to do it.’ I’ve always said this wasn’t the right time. I do random, spoof cooking videos that I put online. But you can edit a video. You can’t edit this. That’s what gives you a thrill.”

Coincidentally, Mr. Bellon is also in the FSS Squadron at Dover Air Force Base and Mr. Paul is retired from DAFB.

The show is also filled with pop culture and current-day references. Written in 2007, the playwrights gave theater companies permission to update certain references.

“There was one political reference that is outdated now. So we have a Donald Trump joke and a Hillary Clinton joke to balance things out,” Mr. Muller said.

Although the show contains many references to children’s shows, this production is not kid-friendly. It contains a helping of adult humor and also features an in-depth discussion on the “origins” of Santa Claus.

But all and all, Mr. Bellon said the show provides the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

“If you are a holiday traditionalist, this might not be the show for you. But if you like your holidays done by National Lampoon or ‘Die Hard,’ this is where you need to be,” he said.

“It’s a two-hour break to see some silliness and then you can go back to buying toys.”

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some)” debuts tonight at 8 at Kent County Theatre Guild’s Patchwork Playhouse, 140 Roosevelt Ave. Dover.

It continues Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and Dec. 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at kctg.org.

Kent Chamber Choir

On Saturday at 7 p.m., the Kent Chamber Choir will present a program of Baroque cantatas for chamber orchestra, chorus and professional soloists at the Presbyterian Church of Dover, 54 S. State St.

Featured works include “Messe de Minuit pour Noël” by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” by Georg Philipp Telemann.

The “Messe de Minuit pour Noël” (“Mass for Christmas Eve”) is a polyphonic mass setting that incorporates several different carols that were popular in 17th century France. Telemann’s “Herr Gott, dich lobern wir” (“Lord God, we adore thee”) represents a well-known Latin Christian hymn titled “Te Deum laudamus” (“Thee, O God, we praise”), here presented in translation by Martin Luther, founder of German Protestantism.

Luther not only translated the text into German, he wrote a chorale melody to be sung with the words. Telemann’s cantata quotes this melody note-fornote, a common compositional technique that was shared by many composers of Telemann’s generation, most notably J.S. Bach.

To highlight this practice, organist T.J. Thomas will perform Bach’s corresponding chorale prelude, BWV 725, immediately prior to the presentation of the Telemann cantata.

The performance of Telemann’s “Herr Gott, dich loben wir” will be an American premiere. The music was recently transcribed from a period source kept in the Telemann Archive in Magdeburg, Germany, and recorded by the Kölner Akademie orchestra and choir.

The Akademie’s director, Michael Alexander Willens, granted the choir access to the score and parts for the performance.

Tickets are available online at www.kentchamberchoir.org or through the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/kentchamberchoir, or at the door.

Advance tickets are $10; tickets at the door are $15.

For more information, contact James Wilson at James@kentchamberchoir.org.

Skaters to perform

Bay Country Figure Skating Club will present its annual holiday show “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” at the Centre Ice Rink at Delaware State Fair in Harrington at 6 p.m. Friday and 1:30 and 5 p.m. Saturday.

Directed by the Centre’s skating director, Jerry Santoferrara, and coach Tom Harrison, “Rockin” features music and characters from beloved holiday classics. Local skaters of all ages and levels will perform, including Bay County Figure Skating Club members, students, and coaches from the rink’s skating programs.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for ages 3-16, with free admission for children 2 and younger. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit www.delawarestatefair.com. Tickets also will be available at the door.

Holiday Stroll

Downtown Milford, Inc. will hold the 14th Annual Holiday Stroll in downtown Milford Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.

The event will include live holiday music, the Delmarva Miniature Horse Club, alpacas, wagon rides provided by Abbott’s Mill Nature Center, decorated business windows, and of course, a visit to Santa’s House.

Shops, restaurants, bakery, and art galleries will have complimentary seasonal treats, store sales, children’s activities, live holiday music and more.

Entertainment will include everything from Irish dancers at Irish Rose, a live performance by Hannah Dale, faculty/student performances at the Music School of Delaware, and dance performances by the First State Dance Academy.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the animated “Playmobil: The Movie” and the true-life corporate drama “Dark Waters.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is “It: Chapter Two,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Hustlers.”

Facebook Comment