A beefed-up Christmas musical created by a couple of local playwrights premieres this weekend at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre.
“5 Carols for Christmas” opens Friday, Nov. 30, in the theater’s Leishman Performance Hall, 525 N. 400 West, Centerville. It continues through Dec. 22.
The musical comedy, set in 1954, tells the story of five friends, all named Carol, who are putting on their annual Christmas show in their suburban neighborhood. When the power goes out, they must scramble to salvage the event — singing and dancing through their problems — and learn how to “just go with the flow.”
The play was written by Jim Christian and Kenneth Plain. Christian is considered the father of musical theater in Utah; Plain is a visiting assistant professor of theater at Weber State University.
Christian said he and Plain have known each other for years, and they’d always wanted to do something together.
“We got to talking and said, ‘There’s kind of a dearth of holiday musicals out there,’” Christian said.
So the two men created not one, but two of them.
In 2010, “5 Carols for Christmas” premiered at Weber State University as a one-act play. For that premiere it was paired with “Jingle Jacks,” another single-act Christian/Plain collaboration that tells the story of a lumberjack boy band.
Christian wrote the book and lyrics to both, Plain composed the music.
Christian and Plain have since expanded “5 Carols for Christmas,” turning it into a full, two-act play. This CenterPoint production will be the premiere of the new, longer musical.
“It’s got four new songs, and a bunch of new dialogue,” Christian said.
Christian and Plain say they’ll eventually beef up “Jingle Jacks” to become a full two-act play as well.
“We just decided to do ‘Carols’ first — CenterPoint was interested in this one,” Christian said. “But a longer ‘Jingle Jacks’ will probably be our next one.”
Christian has written a number of other musicals, including “Pirated,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “The Plain Princess.”
Christian is a child of the 1950s, the era in which “5 Carols for Christmas” is set. His own childhood was the inspiration for the play.
“My mother and her friends were basically the Carols,” he said. “They were always working on projects and programs and crafts, and that’s what made Christmas feel so beautifully nostalgic and home-centered.”
For the CenterPoint production, three of the original Carols — Stephanie Pugh, Liz Corona and Mickey Larson — are reprising their roles from the premiere eight years ago. A fourth actor, Lindsey Garside, wasn’t one of the original Carols but has been in the production more than any others — six times. The final Carol, Kim Tolman, is brand new to the show.
Christian calls the musical a “heart-centered show,” with plenty of nostalgia for Christmases of yore.
“We’ve got some well-known Christmas songs, and a bunch of brand new ones,” he said of the production. “It’s a good mix of heart and comedy, and a couple of sequences really get the audience rolling.”
And Christian says the show has developed a solid fan base here in Utah.
“We have a cult following,” he said. “Some people, if there’s a production of this somewhere, they’ll travel from many cities away to see it.”