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State trooper dons elf hat for Christmas comedy

November 12, 2018

In his day job, Matt Leighton wears a state trooper hat.

But you will see him in an elf stocking hat in “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some),” playing Nov. 29 through Dec. 8 at Dinner Theatre at Franca’s.

The League City lawman plays Gary, the stage manager for a troupe of actors who perform a spoof of widely known holiday tales, in the comedy by Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald and John K. Alvaerez.

“After every rehearsal, I leave on a high,” said Leighton, who made his stage debut just two seasons ago after taking his daughter, Cara, to audition for “A Christmas Story” at Clear Creek Community Theatre in Nassau Bay.

At the tryouts, he said, “It was all women and children; so the director asked me to read the part of ‘The Old Man,’” as the director auditioned the children. The next thing Leighton knew, he was offered the role.

Hooked by audience’s laughter

“The director helped me learn how to read my lines and get a system down for memorizing them,” Leighton said. “When I heard the audience reaction, especially the laughter, that’s when the bug bit me.”

A steady stream of shows followed, including roles in “The Fox on the Fairway,” “Calendar Girls” and “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” at the Nassau Bay theater.

Cara Leighton, now 12 and a student at League City Intermediate School, most recently played a soldier, alongside her father (in three roles), in “Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders” at CCCT.

Matt Leighton, 48, was born in Sussex, England, but moved with his family to the United States when he was about 8 years old. His mother, Sally Roberts, had enjoyed visiting America several times as a member of an Elvis Presley fan club; so it was at her prodding that the family moved to the United States.

Roberts lives in Dickinson.

Leighton graduated from Alvin High School in 1989. For the past 15 years, he has worked as a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, mainly in commercial vehicle enforcement, covering Galveston, Brazoria, Matagorda and Wharton counties.

He and his wife, Linda, an accountant, also have a son, Chase, 15 who is a student at Clear Creek High.

Joining Leighton in “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” are Pete and Teri Muse Miller of Clear Lake, Kathy Edge of Bacliff, Dianne Foussac of Nassau Bay, Steve Quimby of Sugar Land and Jada August and Hunter Mehrens of Houston.

The show was directed by Kathleen Heffernan Pero of Dickinson.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays, Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 and Dec. 6-8. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and show time is 8 p.m.

Admission is $35 per person plus tax and gratuity.

Call 281-488-2207 for reservations.

For further information, visit www.francasrealitalian.com

The restaurant/theater is at 1101 E. Nasa Parkway.

Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at donmaines@att.net

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