Catty church ladies discover the real meaning of Christmas in the next Central Alberta Theatre production: The Charitable Sisterhood Christmas Spectacular.
Written by U.S. playwright Bo Wilson and directed by Suzanne Hermary, this comedy will run from Dec. 1-16 at Festival Hall in Red Deer.
Hermary said she chose the playful holiday romp because it’s “ridiculously funny” and offers “the very best of the Christmas season: theft, sabotage, friction and fa-la-la.”
The play is set in 1977 in the American South. It’s three weeks before Dec. 25 and the ladies of Second Trinity Church of Virginia are about to stage their annual Christmas Spectacular musical pageant — only they’re all in a tizzy because there’s a criminal on the loose.
Somebody has stolen the baby Jesus figure out of their church’s nativity display — and Sisterhood leader Beatrice Littleton is pointing an accusing finger at her arch-enemy, Lucille Orton from rival church, First Salvation.
To dig up some evidence, the Sisterhood has called in honorary member, Janet Murchison, a New Jersey private investigator.
What starts off as a mystery evolves into a play-within-a-play in the second act, when Christmas stories and sacred songs collide in the silly pageant. The church ladies put on costumes and take roles in the Christmas Spectacular, where Santa meets the Three Wise Men at the manger, and four Biblical lines are inflated into a four-minute drama about baby Jesus curing Simeon the blind man.
Of course, the initial mystery is solved by the end of the play as Beatrice learns the true meaning of Christmas. “It’s a really cute and sweet story” that will leave audiences with a positive outlook on the holiday season, said Hermary.
The jokes are family-friendly and there’s a good message about letting grudges go. The script is also scathingly hilarious, added Hermary, who noted her five female actors “haven’t had a run-through without giggling.”
Despite a tight rehearsal schedule, things are falling in place — from finding 1970s woven lawn chairs, to getting an inventive set designed by Lacey Oleson-Rinehart with the look of a pop-up book, said Hermary.
“I hope people will leave feeling good wishes, and ‘a Merry Christmas to y’all and y’all a good night.’”
For more information about evening shows, matinees and dates for The Charitable Sisterhood Christmas Spectacular (some performances are theatre only and others include dinner or brunch), please visit showpass.com, or call 403-967-1769.