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‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told’ is back at Rep

November 16, 2018

Christmas is back by popular demand.

Well, there’s nothing unusual about that. After that ugly election season, we could all use a little Christmas.

But audiences at the Rochester Repertory Theatre will get more than a little Christmas this year. They’ll get “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some!)” – a reprise of last year’s holiday hit, which opens Nov. 23.

“When it finished last year, people were asking us about it,” said Bill Schnell, who directs the show. “People couldn’t get tickets because it sold every seat. So they asked if we’d be willing to do it again.”

The answer was yes, especially since this is a crazy show, and Schnell likes crazy. “It’s a fun show to do,” he said.

The play is about a small theater troupe that is faced with doing, yet again, “A Christmas Carol” for the holiday season. But the actors are tired of that old chestnut and start heading off in different directions, spoofing holiday favorites, trampling on traditions, and finally getting around to a hasty version of “Carol.”

This year’s production won’t be an exact copy of the 2017 version, Schnell said. For starters, R.J. Traff has joined the cast in place of Jeff Goihl, who had family commitments. “He’s the standard straight man,” Schnell said of Traff, and the role is supposed to be for a straight man.” In other words, Traff will try to maintain a calm equilibrium as the craziness goes on around him.

Returning from last year’s cast are Lisa Modry and David Derby.

In addition, Schnell has received permission from the playwrights to eliminate one scene and tweak some other aspects of the show. “We made some subtle, technical changes,” he said.

As an added treat for opening weekend, Maggie Hendrickson and Kasey Kuker will perform holiday music before the show Friday night, with more pre-show music by Melissa and Anastasia Goihl planned for Saturday night.

And about that opening: Black Friday would seem like a crowded day to open a play. However, it worked last year, and Schnell anticipates it will again.

“It was so successful,” he said. “Black Friday was wonderful. We said, ‘You’ve got family in town, come and be entertained.’”

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