Short North Stage celebrates season, city with second annual “Christmas in Columbus”
Have yourself a meta little Christmas at Short North Stage, as its second iteration of “Christmas in Columbus,” again a celebration of the holidays here in the Capital City, is itself becoming a seasonal tradition.
OK, so maybe it takes more than two years to become a full-on tradition, but this locally produced show is definitely onto something.
Short North Stage premiered this original show last year, offering it up as a family friendly counterpoint to its normally adult-skewing repertoire. The show also nods to local holiday traditions, including BalletMet's “The Nutcracker” and Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. When the company decided to bring it back, early discussions centered on tweaking the 2016 version, but ultimately a whole new story was written by last year's co-writer, Dionysia Williams, who also directs and choreographs “Christmas in Columbus: Return of the Elf.”
“We thought originally to do a 2.0 version, but the idea of doing a whole new story ended up sounding more fun,” Williams said in a phone interview. “Like last year, there's lots of singing and dancing. … And we visit a lot of great Columbus Christmas traditions, like the Franklin Park Conservatory gingerbread house competition and the Statehouse Christmas tree lighting, as well as some other places, like the OSU Ice Rink.”
Last year's hero, Gideon the elf, returns to help bring Christmas cheer to places where it's lacking. New character Simeon, Gideon's evil twin, is set on bringing everyone down for the holidays, heading straight to Columbus from the North Pole hoping to create all manner of mischief. (Spoiler alert: Gideon, with help from a cast of North Pole characters and festive Columbus-ites, manages to put all the would-be Scrooges back in a happy mood for the holidays, including Simeon.)
The cast includes Zach Fretag as Gideon, Cody Westbrook as Simeon, R. DeAndre Smith as Santa, Jackie Nguyen as Snoozy, Natalie Girard as Holly Berry and Eli Brickey as Cara Claus.
Also new in this year's production are two original songs written by musical director Michael Finke. “Christmas in Columbus” is a scene-setter of sorts that references pretty much as many Columbus seasonal traditions as you can get in one song, and a Simeon feature, “Good to Be Bad.”