This is how new holiday traditions are established.
The musical comedy “Five Carols for Christmas” opens this weekend at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, and organizers are hoping it develops into a cherished annual tradition.
The show, produced by Ogden Musical Theatre, is directed and written by Utah musical theater legend Jim Christian. Music was written by Weber State University visiting assistant professor Kenneth Plain.
The story takes place in 1954 suburbia, as five best friends — who also just happen to be named some version of “Carol” — are preparing for their annual Christmas program at the local high school. When the power goes out, their carefully laid plans go awry, and egos and miscommunication quickly threaten to destroy the holiday spirit.
Filled with both traditional Christmas classics and new tunes, the production stars Stephanie Pugh as Carol, Liz Corona as Queryl, Mickey Larsen as Karil, Lindsea Garside as Carroll, and Kim Allen Tolman as Kar’l. Christian, the former head of the musical theater program at WSU, said the entire cast is transplanted from a production last year at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre in Centerville.
Christian says “Five Carols for Christmas” is based loosely on holiday memories from his own youth.
“It really was kind of inspired by my childhood, and watching my mother and her friends put together Christmas every year,” Christian said. “I was a child in the 1950s, a baby boomer, and everybody back then decorated their houses within an inch of their lives.”
Christian recalls that, back then, his mother and her friends would busy themselves with various holiday preparations — Christmas programs, music, baking cookies, sewing clothing — and it made a deep impression on the playwright.
“That world really became so iconic for me at Christmas that in writing this I drew heavily from my mother’s friends,” he said. “One character was named for a neighbor across the street. … Every one of the characters is a compilation of a lot of people.”
“Five Carols for Christmas” was originally written as a shorter, one-act piece. However, last year Christian and Plain expanded the musical, adding four new songs and a second act.
“We wanted to do a little more backstory on some of the characters,” Christian said. “One of the characters didn’t have a feature in the second act, so we created a new song for her.”
They also beefed up the part of Cousin Ray, the piano player.
While Christian says he set out to entertain audience members, he also hopes there are a couple of other take-home lessons from “Five Carols.”
“There are two things I hope they get,” Christian said of the audience. “One, is just appreciating the quirkiness of every one of us and the little eccentricities we have. And two, I think there’s this message about how everyone worries about making everything perfect for the celebration and the season — the perfect meals, the perfect gifts — but that’s not the be-all and end-all. The best thing is to have good people around you. Good friends who like you whether you’re perfect or not.”
“Five Carols for Christmas” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, 2415 Washington Blvd., in Ogden. It continues with shows at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and concludes with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.
Tickets are $15 to $20, available through smithstix.com or 801-689-8700.