Newnan Theater Company
‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)’
by Ana Ivey
Justin Jessel loves the theory of comedy, and the comedy of comedy — what makes a joke funny. So when he read the play “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!),” he knew he had to direct it for Newnan Community Theatre.
“ ‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told’ is a comedy about when a show goes wrong,” said Jessel, during a rehearsal break at the theater. “The actors start out doing ‘A Christmas Carol’ and then within the very first lines of the show, one of the guys decides he doesn’t want to do ‘A Christmas Carol.’ So, they do everything else.”
A Newnan High School graduate, Jessel, 29, selected three young thespians to play multiple roles each. Daniel Lees, 23, an East Coweta graduate, was picked to play Gustav the Green-nosed Raingoat (a spoof on Rudolph), Frosty the Snowman, and almost the entire cast of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
But really, Lees said, he’s playing himself.
“Our main characters are pretty much us,” said Lees, a cook at the Thomas Crossroads Pizza Hut near Newnan. “And I’m the guy trying the hardest not to do ‘A Christmas Carol,’ because I’m tired of it. Every theatre does a version of that show every year, and my character has acted in it more than he can say, playing everything from Tiny Tim to the old dead guy. He wants to finally do a show about the things that he thinks about when it comes to Christmas.”
Josh Hendricks, on the other hand, desperately wants his production of the Dickens’ classic to go on as planned.
“He wrote and directed this version of the play, and he is trying to get the actors back to it, because that’s what is supposed to happen at Christmas,” said Hendricks, 22, an East Coweta graduate who earned a biology degree from Georgia State.
Hendricks portrays a caricature of himself as well as Scrooge, George Bailey, and the Grinch, to name a few. An eBay retailer of trading cards, Hendricks lives in Grantville.
Jason Abraham, an 18-year-old Northgate senior, rounds out the trio of actors.
“In the play, I’m going along with Daniel,” said Abraham, who also portrays Yukon Cornelius, Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s nephew Fred, and the ghosts of Christmas past and future, among others. “My character is new to acting, and is an intellectual. Once he figures out what Daniel is going to do, he begins preparing. He wants to teach Josh, and everyone in the audience, a broader idea of Christmas.”
The 90-minute script written in 2007 gave Jessel and the three actors creative license to add, remove, and change the play as they saw fit. They took creative liberties to make the play relevant to a 2013 audience.
“We stayed true to the script for the majority, but instead of a reference to California and its governor, we use a different more relevant joke,” said Jessel. “Or in a parody of ‘Queer Eye For the Straight Guy,’ we altered it to our own ‘Breaking Bad’ parody. Beyond that, since the show does say in the title “every” Christmas story, we made sure that we referenced any Christmas show or tradition in our production that the script didn't originally reference, like ‘Die Hard’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’ ”
Theater-goers can expect a little music, caroling, and audience participation. The play will be performed in the theater’s black box section on a 4-foot by 15-foot stage. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Dec. 16-21, and 3 p.m. Dec. 22.
“Watching these guys go as fast as they can in 91 minutes, and go through every single Christmas thing we could think of,” said Jessel, “it’s just madcap.”