The Port City Playhouse is presenting "Tangled in the Tinsel" for three days only: Dec. 1 and 2 at 8 p.m.; and Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. The show is a collection of 17 short sketches that capture the "fun side" of Christmas — from the mall parking lot to the Sunday School pageant to a gift exchange. It is a prequel to last year's holiday hit by Martha Bolton — "The 12 Plays of Christmas."
The show is a light-hearted look at all the ways people manage to complicate their lives during the Christmas season. All but one of the cast of 13 are new to Port City and several are first-time actors. The show runs about one hour and 15 minutes and there are no intermissions. After the show, cookies and drinks will be served so people can meet the cast and share a cup of good cheer.
Director Becky Patton said playwright Bolton has a great knack for getting to the heart of matters without being too preachy. "And she's very funny," she said. "We have to be able to laugh at ourselves in order to step back and honor the season."
She said what she was trying to accomplish was "that we can laugh in church and we can use humor to make us see that there is more to the season than gifts and parties."
As far as challenges, she added, "This is an ensemble play — there are no specific stars or leads, but lots of people who have to work together to make the play happen. And it is a comedy, which means timing has to be spot on. Lastly, keeping a cast of 13 healthy through the rehearsal period was very challenging."
Patton said that since Port City Playhouse moved into new space at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church in Falls Church, that they've been working with the church to build out the Fellowship Hall to be a theater space. "The Christmas show is a benefit for both of us," she said.
Maya Andersen is playing two characters. She said the first is a girl who wants to receive the best gift at a gift exchange while trying to give away her own crummy gift. The second is a young girl setting straight a church play Diva. "I think that's my favorite character because she is innocent and funny without trying to be," she said.
As far as audience takeaways, she said, "When the audience sees our show, I hope they realize that there is more to Christmas than presents … there's also comedy."
Chris Andersen is playing the role of a grumpy husband trying to get rid of the world's worst in-law. "I also play a hungry caroler trying to trade carols for food and a take-charge Christmas dad," he said. "My favorite character is the grumpy husband. Rosemarie is a great scene partner. She plays my wife and smacks me around."
Jocelyn Brinlee gets to play several different characters. They include: Linda (a concerned caroler) in "Visions of Sugarplums (and Other Things Fattening);" Sarah (a disgruntled bargain hunter) in "Store Wars" (her favorite); the month of May in "The Twelve Months of Christmas;" Marcia (a cynical Christmas decorator) in "Oh, Christmas Tree! Oh, Christmas Tree!"; Mom in "The Recitation;" Mary (noisy shoe gal) in "Mistletoe Macho;" and Judy (charade enthusiast) in "Birthday Party."
She said the most challenging part of preparing for the show was overcoming a fear of singing in front of people during "The Twelve Months of Christmas."
She added, "I hope the audience will have as much fun watching the show as the cast has had rehearsing for it. This show is a great way to kick off the holiday season for those are who looking for an entertaining way to get into the Christmas spirit."
Christian Alzona is playing the roles of the Clerk, Matt, Shopper, and October. "I like them all; it's all about how to enjoy your characters to me," he said.
He added, "I hope the audience, amidst the fun and laughter, can bring with them that Christmas is more than the circus that happens with presents, get-togethers, shopping, etc. That on top of recognizing the reason for the season (Jesus), it is a time for caring and loving one another in many ways we can 'give.'"
The Port City Playhouse is presenting "Tangled in the Tinsel" for three days only: Dec. 1 and 2 at 8 p.m.; and Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. Performances are at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church, 3435 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church. Tickets can be found at www.portcityplayhouse.org or at the door prior to the performance.