Instead of taking another shot at Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, three local actors will tackle 75 different characters when Umpqua Actors Community Theatre presents “Every Christmas Story Ever Told ... And Then Some,” opening 7 p.m. Thursday at Betty Unruh Theater.
“It’s the story of three guys, two of which have kind of had it with doing ‘A Christmas Carol’ every year so we try to convince our third actor to do all the other Christmas stories besides ‘Christmas Carol,’” Doug Pieschel said.
Pieschel will be joined on stage by fellow seasoned actors Bob Moreland and Gary Gohman. Each of them have frequented the stage for years, but this will be the first time the three have worked together. They will take a fast-paced romp through favorite holiday classics, Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons and very nearly every carol ever sung.
“As we progress and decide to do other Christmas things, we invite the audience to participate,” Gohman said. “We begin by taking ideas from the audience and then, from that point, we talk about some of the Christmas traditions from around the world and then we go into takeoffs of the Grinch, Rudolph, Frosty and others.”
The actors will take traditional holiday stories and add a twist. In fact, the entire second act is a combination of “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which they are calling “It’s a Wonderful Carol.”
Pieschel says the play has an on-the-fly improv feel, allowing them to substitute certain aspects with local references and to find the best ways to tie in audience interaction.
“The audience really drive the show,” director Melody Schwegel said. “The three characters feed off the response from the audience. The louder they are, the louder the actors are.”
UACT has does abridged versions of plays before, such as “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare ... Abridged” last year, but this is the first time they have taken on this particular play. The fast-moving production brings a few challenges, such as multiple costume changes in a short amount of time, but the actors say that is part of what makes the production fun.
“In act two, I think I have eight different characters that I go from one to the other to the other and then back to another. Sometimes it’s put on a hat, become the guy, then you go back and put on a scarf and now you’re a lady.” Pieschel said. “For the most part, it’s more fun than we should be allowed to have.”
The comedy will open at 7 p.m. Thursday, with repeat performances at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 15. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.
The show is considered family friendly.
“It’s just a really, really fun show,” Schwegel said. “You always want to do a show that is going to invite the community in and this is one of those shows that is good fun, great for the family and something to enjoy during the holidays.”