Tired of dealing with shopping, decorating and shoveling snow? Need a little Christmas caroling, laughter and memories? Cure the bah-humbugs at Stella Niagara in Lewiston this weekend with Theatre in the Mist's production of "Home for the Holidays."
Local writer and director Jason R. Bek takes the best (and worst) of the holidays, wraps it up in a Lewiston family setting, adds a dash of romance and a heaping helping of music that puts the spirit back in Christmas.
"I drew from my Christmas memories, as well as ones from the cast, trying to create an authentic, funny and touching original Christmas show," says Bek.
Grandma and Grandpa "Chris" Kringle are preparing to leave their Lewiston farmhouse and spend the holidays in Hawaii, because their grown kids are "too busy for us" and "have other plans." They are leaving their home in the care of the Scrooge-like Bebe Snomiznr and her two children. Much to the Kringle's surprise, their grown children and grandchildren, plus Chris' ditzy mother arrive ready to spend the holidays as a family. Matty the mailman is added to the crowd when he injures his leg slipping on the sidewalk, plus inexplicably falls for the cranky Bebe. The arrival of Kringle son Hermie's fiancée Clarice is delayed by her decision to do some last-minute shopping at Fashion Outlets in the Town of Niagara. Of course, being Western New York, a blizzard arrives, too.
Needless to say, this makes for a crowded stage, but the cast, many returning from this fall's successful Theatre in the Mist production of "The Wizard of Oz," handles it well.
Niagara County residents taking roles in "Home for the Holidays" include: From the Town of Niagara -- Susan Laxton as Clarice; from Lewiston -- Jerry Mosey as Grandpa Chris Kringle, Ashley Broderick as Sally Kringle, Alecia Pucci as Kristin Parker; from Youngstown -- Alessandro Renzi as Hermie Kringle, Deanne Lester as Holly Kringle, Erin Linnabery as Ivy Kringle-Bailey, Caitlyn Lech as Joy Kringle, Sarah Lester as Angel Kringle; from Niagara Falls -- Bill Kennedy as Matty the mailman, Jean A. Speck as Nana, Taylor Tedesco as Eve Snomiznr, Sara Nicoletti as Claudia Kringle-Bailey; Molly Harding of North Tonawanda as Ebbie N. Kringle-Bailey. Also, Kelly, Todd, Matteson and Havana Bancroft-Billings of Niagara Falls as Cindy Lou, Ralph, Sarah and Jessica Parker.
Other cast members include Sara Jo Kukulka as Grandma Kringle, Lisa Marie Leone as Bebe Snomiznr and Caitlyn Vishian as Daphne Snomiznr.
The audience relates with laughter and whispered "I remember that's" to the action on the stage. Anyone who grew up in a large family can relate to the small piece of food snapped with a spoon at a bratty sibling under the parents' radar. Only in this case, the siblings are now adults.
With more snow in the real Western New York forecast, the audience reacted with groans to Clarice's being stuck in a drift and telling the tow truck driver, "I told you it's not the boonies; it's Lewiston!"
A showstopper is Grandma's "Santa Baby" sung to Grandpa when they're finally left alone for a few minutes. Don't miss Hermie's reaction when he stumbles on the scene. Older parents aren't supposed to act like that!
Another showstopper, more likely to bring a lump to your throat than laughter, is the final scene. Lovers have been found and reunited, peace reigns in the family and the kids are snug in their beds (pillows and blankets on the floor of the crowded farmhouse). The only light comes from the decorations and from the fireplace where Nana in her rocking chair sings.
It's a shame that weather and other weekend activities kept the audience small. One audience member was heard to exclaim as she prepared to drive out of sight, "I loved it! I'd come and see it again!"
Performances this weekend are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, at the Stella Niagara Theater, 4421 Lower River Road, Lewiston. Tickets, available at the door, are $12 for adults, $10 for students/seniors, and $6 for children under age 12. For more information, call 1-877-856-0694 or visit www.theatreinthemist.org.