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'Christmas Belles' delivers belly laughs through Christmas pageant debacle

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Christmas Belles

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O! Holy Night and everything should be great for the annual Christmas Eve pageant in Fayro, TX, but with a new director, some new ideas, a cast dropping like flies as the result of food poisoning, things could not get worse for Honey Raye Futrelle in the comedy, Christmas Belles.

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Olathe Civic Theatre Association, (OCTA) presents Christmas Belles, written by Jesse Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten, as their Christmas comedy to end the year. In the story, if it can go wrong, it does as situations just keep going from bad to worse as the pageant is about to begin. A new director wants a bigger, newer, grander production while scorned 27-year former director wants nothing but failure or to be back in charge again.

So begins the comedic tale of the Christmas pageant that just was not to be. And expect OCTA to select a good director, Nino Casisi, to hand pick his cast to deliver the goods. While the piece is an ensemble piece, three performers stand out for their performances.

First, Bill Pelletier, as Santa Clause, brings the house down as his medical condition deteriorates as the play progresses and his malady worsens. Victoria Hoffman, as the due-any-minute mother-to-be performs hysterically as Pelletier’s wife and one on the trio of squabbling sisters in the play. Also worthy of special mention, Michael Juncker turned in a great performance as the local pastor, part time Rudolf, and intended fiancé of a Futrelle family member.

The Futrelle sisters carved out quite a reputation for themselves in the small town of Fayro, TX, and in the Tabernacle of the Lamb Church. Much of their dirty laundry would go unnoticed had Honey Raye not returned and wrestled the Christmas pageant directorship away from 27-year director, Geneva Musgrove.

Change and fresh ideas, not always welcome, create the stress, friction, and comedy upon which the play revolves.

Give a lot of credit to Casisi for undertaking this play. While the play is funny, the many short scenes make it choppy. Casisi demonstrates good direction in that he brought humor to the setting and craziness of the situation without demeaning the characters on stage. That helps amplify the comedy of the piece and does not focus on the characters.

As for the acting, each actor performed like he or she believed the characters portrayed. This was done as a serious piece and the comedy comes from the situations, not the characterizations. With many pieces of this nature, the characters are portrayed as lower class and trashy. Christmas Belles was not done in that fashion to the credit of the director and actors. The vision of the play was refreshing.

For a fun evening of just entertaining laughs, Christmas Belles at OCTA comes with high recommendations. It’s fun. It’s guaranteed to make everyone laugh. It’s completely family-friendly. No strong language spews from any character, and it’s a show even children will enjoy.

Production crew includes: Charlotte Gilman, JoAnna Bledsoe, Chuck Cline, Michael Morrow, April Hall, Bobbi Burton.

The cast of Christmas Belles includes Rachel Szmed, Melanie Marcec,, Jenny Frinz, Derrick Freeman, Jenny Loudenback, Bill Pelletier, Victoria Hoffman, Amy Eisele, Michael Juncker, Charles Goolladay, Marianne Tennant.

For tickets go to the website to get times, dates, prices, and phone numbers. For information: olathetheatre.org

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