When it comes to Christmas, Michael Prince is like a kid at the North Pole. So it's no tough assignment for the artistic director to write the Gaslight Holiday Extravaganza each year for the northwest theater.
Opening Friday, this year's melodrama is "Santa's On His Way," about a family fighting to keep their cabin from the clutches of a lady scrooge.
Prince wrote in an email, "This one was really inspired by the idea that all of us, at some point or another, have gone through tough times, and Christmas is a time to refresh and recharge and look forward to better and more prosperous times in the new year and beyond."
At the heart of the show is the tight-knit Holiday family: Pops (Phil Beglin), Sam (Chayce Perlis), Cindy (Victoria Tiger) and Alan (Adrian Francies).
"They’ve had some tough times over the last few years, but those tough times have only made their family bond stronger," Prince said. "And they’re finally getting to celebrate Christmas the way they always used to when they were younger."
Not if Mrs. Donaghy (Ali Doughterty) has anything to say about it. The Forest Service employee and her assistant, Daisy (Tessa Ogles), are at work to snatch the family cabin out from under the Holidays.
"Ali Dougherty is absolutely hysterical and also very touching as Mrs. Donaghy. She really knocks it out of the park!"
Helping keeping spirits bright are Santa Claus (Michael Kubik) and Mary, the Christmas Angel (Ogles).
Expect some classic Christmas songs to help tell the story, Prince said.
"From 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town' to 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,' there’s something for everyone. I think my favorites are Tessa Ogles singing 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' and Victoria Tiger singing 'I’ll Be Home For Christmas.' Those are just two of my absolute favorite Christmas songs and the two of them do such a great job!"
Following the melodrama is "Christmas in Arkansas," the new vaudeville revue by musical director Warren Dobson. In it, the Tubbs family has secured a half-hour of television time to put on its very own Christmas special live from the family's living room in Boggy Ditch, Ark.
Dobson described it as "Christmas the good ol’ hillbilly way!"
Even with shows scheduled almost every day until Dec. 23, there are already some sold-out dates. Prince encouraged guests to check the website themelodrama.com/tickets for ticket availability.
Prince said he's excited to welcome audiences to celebrate Christmas with them.
"This Christmas show is our 99th production here at the Melodrama and we’re starting the 2020 season, our 15th year in operation, with our 100th show! Hard to believe we made it to 100, but we did, and we couldn’t be more excited about continuing the tradition of Melodrama in Bakersfield."