By Heidi Sutton
While the doors of the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts (SPAC) on Main Street remain shuttered, the theater continues its partnership with the Smithtown Historical Society to present the magic of live theater for young audiences. Following in the footsteps of sold-out performances of Moana Jr. in the summer and Spookley the Square Pumpkin in the fall, SPAC now brings the community a socially distant outdoor production of Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The show will run on various Saturdays and Sundays on the grounds of the society through Dec. 24.
It’s Christmas Eve and Uncle Brierly (Evan Donellan) attempts to read his favorite poem, Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas to the audience. He gets as far as, “Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” only to be interrupted by a mouse who is in fact stirring batter to make cookies for Santa in hopes that he’ll show up this year.
The mouse, named Amos (Jae Hughes), insists that Santa skipped the house the year before, a claim backed up by Emily (Lorelai Mucciolo), Brierly’s niece and Amos’ best friend. An elf named Calliope (Gabrielle Arroyo) suddenly appears and confirms that Santa’s naughty-or-nice list went missing last year and other families suffered the same fate.
With only a few hours left until Christmas Day, Calliope, Emily and a very reluctant Amos set off on a plane to the North Pole on a quest to prevent this from happening again and to save Christmas.
When they arrive at Santa’s workshop, they overhear a former elf, Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Donellan), tell his sidekick Mulch (Anthony Panarello), how he sold the children’s Christmas wish list to retailers last year and plans to do it again this year. What follows is a madcap rush to retrieve this year’s list with a surprise appearance from Amos’s brother from Kansas (the incredible Hughes in a dual role), a hysterical case of mistaken identity, an exciting sword fight, an elf cheer, a visit from Santa Claus (Panarello) and a hilarious chase scene around the stage to the Benny Hill theme song.
Will Emily, Amos and Calliope succeed in their quest? Will all the boys and girls receive presents this year? Was it all a dream? With the underlying holiday message that the best Christmas presents don’t come in packages and to make life an adventure, this show is truly a joyful tribute to the holiday season!
The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts presents Ken Ludwig’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in the open air outdoor performance space behind the Smithtown Historical Society’s Roseneath Cottage, 239 Middle Country Rd., Smithtown on Dec. 12, 13, 19, 20 and 24 at 11 a.m. Running time is one hour with no intermission. Masks are required. Tickets are $18 per person.
For an additional $7 per family (5 person maximum), guests are invited to stay after the show for a distanced photo opportunity with a live Santa followed by photo opportunities at other locations on the property with Santa’s elves, field of snowmen, lighted Christmas tree, etc., all outside and safely distanced, from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Bring your own camera.
To order tickets for either event, please visit www.smithtownpac.org.