Beckwith to close season with mishmash of Christmas tales

DOWAGIAC — Beckwith audiences will not just witness one BHC — or “Beloved Holiday Classic” — retold on stage during the local community theater’s last show of the 2017 season.

From the dastardly antics of the Grinch to the classic tale of Frosty the Snowman, the three-person cast of the Dowagiac playhouse’s next production will be tasked with recreating, as the name of the play states, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)”

The local theater is hosting its production of the holiday comedy the next two weekends, Dec. 8-10 and 15-17. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. Sundays.

Tickets cost $10, and may be purchased at the box office at the time of the performance. All active and retired military personnel will be admitted free of charge this Saturday.

The comedy, written by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald and John K. Alvarez, crams “just about every Christmas story into an hour and a half,” said Jennifer Shoemaker, director of the upcoming Beckwith show. Opening with a botched attempt at retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the three-person cast decides to jettison doing just one BHC in favor of doing them all, while sprinkling in a little Christmas trivia.

From Yukon Cornelius to the Norelco Santa Claus, nearly every single Yuletide character will make an appearance in the show — though, given its length, each Christmas tale will get 10 minutes of stage time or less, Shoemaker said.

“It’s like if the Cliffs Notes versions of these stories had Cliffs Notes,” said James Huffman, one of the performers in the show.

Huffman and his co-stars — fellow Beckwith veteran Denise Miller and Sarah Bianchi, a regular of Buchanan’s Tin Shop Theatre who is making her Dowagiac debut — will portray 10 or more characters throughout the show, donning different props to bring them to life.

“I love it,” Miller said about the show. “It’s like instead of just doing one show, we’re doing 10. It helps me grow as an actress, because I get to do so many different things on stage.”

All three performers have experience performing in these sorts of slapstick, fast-paced comedies — Huffman and Bianchi both have done plenty of improvisational comedy at various theaters, while Miller starred in a similar-style of production, “The Iliad, The Odyssey and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less,” earlier this year at the Beckwith. The trio have never worked together, though, and, with such a small cast, developing strong chemistry was a must to make the show work, they said.

Thankfully, after spending just 45 minutes at Shoemaker’s house cracking jokes amongst each other their first night of practice, the director knew she had found the right actors to pull it off.

“We are all pretty loud, confident and sarcastic, so we were able to bond pretty easily — mainly through making fun of each other,” Miller said.

With so many different tales crammed into the performance, audiences will be in for an exciting and hilarious evening, Shoemaker said. While the show is focused around the holiday, even Christmas-haters will get something out of the show, the director said.

“There is something for everybody,” Shoemaker said. “You will definitely come away laughing.”

Beckwith Theatre’s production of “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” is sponsored by First Source Bank, Deck the Halls and Wood Fire Restaurant. For more information or to reserve seats, people may call the theater at (269) 782-7653 or visit beckwiththeatre.com.

 

Cast: 

Director: Jennifer Shoemaker

Cast: Sarah: Sarah Bianchi

James: James Huffman

Denise: Denise Miller

Crew:

Lighting/Sound Design: Lloyd Whitmyer and Matt Davidson

Poster/Art Design: Mandy Lattin

Photographer: Rebecca Kellogg Steenbeke, Blue Print Photography

Buchanan

Niles Scream Park seeks new nonprofit organizations

Berrien County

Updated MDHHS orders expand restaurant capacity, increase capacity limits, allow for expanded visitation at residential care facilities

News

Niles Township approves state-outlined poverty guidelines, purchases tractor attachment for trails, considers firefighter applicants

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD narrows superintendent search to two candidates

Dowagiac

Dowagiac art students complete Lego murals

News

Former surgeon given 10 to 40 years for criminal sexual conduct

Breaking News

UPDATE: Two teenagers injured in shooting at Niles hotel

Dowagiac

SMC unveils scholarship guarantee

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan 589,150 cases, 15,534 deaths

Business

Applications now available for Dowagiac’s Summer in the City Festival

Breaking News

Two shot, wounded at Niles hotel

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces healthcare hiring events

News

Niles Police Log: Feb. 18-25

Edwardsburg

Ontwa Township Edwardsburg Police Log: Feb. 15-22

Dowagiac

SMC graduate experiences Super Bowl

Dowagiac

Dowagiac women aim to create change through local government

Dowagiac

SMC COVID task force leader talks with Dowagiac Rotary Club

Business

Niles roller rink reopens following legal battle

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces community wide survey to learn about COVID-19’s impact

Cass County

Cass County prepares to adjust to criminal justice reforms

Berrien County

Michiana Family Center seeks mentors for foster teens

Business

Nobo Michigan opens Edwardsburg location

Cassopolis

Businesses battle over land use in Cassopolis’ Industrial Park

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Feb. 19-24