There isn’t much the pandemic hasn’t impacted, including the schedule at Community Players Theatre.
The theater's original plan was to stage “Elf-the Musical” for the holiday season. Instead, for the COVID season, the organization has created an original, virtual production laced with Christmas music and touched with nostalgia. It's premiering on Facebook Live on Friday, Dec. 18 before migrating over to the theater's YouTube channel.
“Home for the Holidays” harkens back to seasons past, when Community Players, as a way of giving back to their loyal audience, would host a holiday movie night at the theater, complete with cartoons, family films and sing-alongs.
“We wanted to change things up a little bit,” said Chris Terven, treasurer for Community Players Theatre (CPT). “We did a straight review called “On with the Show” earlier this year. For the holidays, however, we wanted to try and make it more of a story-driven scenario.”
“We chose holiday songs and had people put in applications, so we could figure out which people went with which numbers. We used all the individuals who were interested in participating. And we used those numbers to create a story about what we would normally be doing if it wasn’t for COVID.”
One of the longtime theater volunteers provided the inspiration for the storyline of “Home for the Holidays.” Bruce Parrish has served at CPT for more than 40 years, holding a variety of board positions, including president. He’s currently the troupe's official historian. But that’s not all.
“He likes to joke with all of the patrons that he is the janitor for Community Players,” Terven said with a laugh. “The story starts with Bruce at Community Players, cleaning up all of the decorations and stuff that we were going to have out and about for the holiday movie night.
“Basically, a real-time example of how we had to cancel holiday movie night because of COVID.”
The storyline has Parrish killing time at the theater since his family is out of town. Trying to make the best of a bad situation, Parrish tidies up his beloved second home.
“With a phone call, friends discover that he’s there all alone and try to remind him of all the fun they would be having in that holiday season," said Terven. "So, it starts with a flashback to the past with people performing different Christmas numbers.”
A call from another friend leads to a discussion of how people are celebrating the holidays amid the pandemic.
“I won’t give away the ending, but they all come together to brighten his day,” said Terven, adding in an uncommon year, “Home for the Holidays” strives to capture a common theme of the season.
“A lot of people struggle during the holidays," he said. "Coming together is what overcomes that struggle for a lot of us. That’s one of the drivers of this whole story.”
“Home for the Holidays” premiers on Facebook Live at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18. After that, audiences can view the free performance on Community Players Theatre’s YouTube channel.
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