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Arts Council, Theatre of Dare Team Up For Christmas Comedy

‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told’ opens Dec. 2 in Manteo

You could call it a theatrical Christmas miracle.

Left without a “home stage” in the wake of COA’s mold infestation, Theatre of Dare desperately sent out a call for places to perform its two winter productions, the upcoming Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some) and February’s romantic comedy Almost, Maine.

The Dare County Arts Council immediately stepped in to help.

“It’s a win-win for us,” said Arts Council Executive Director Chris Sawin. “T.O.D gets a place to put on some of its smaller productions, and we get to add live theatre to the long list of art forms we support here.”

For the Christmas show, T.O.D. will turn the former upstairs courthouse into an intimate, cabaret-style stage where performers and audience can interact freely. “It’s actually a perfect stage for this show,” said director Tim Hass. “We’ve got three performers, a minimalist set, and a lot of humorous give-and-take between cast and audience. Hopefully, we’ll be able to fill the whole room with the good old-fashioned Christmas Spirit.”

The show, written by three improvisational comedians, begins with one performer (Jessica Sands) setting out to perform a well-rehearsed rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. However, the other two actors (Bert Plante, Daniel Ziegler) decide Scrooge’s tale has become a holiday cliché, and instead decide to riff on every seasonal icon they can come up with, from the Macy’s Day Parade to The Grinch.

“It’s not exactly Tennessee Williams,” jokes Sands, who was last seen on stage as the sarcastic overworked maid in Boeing Boeing. “It’s a lot of rapid-fire jokes, sight gags, and costume changes, all done in the spirit of holiday fun. If people leave with smiles on their faces, we’ll have done our job.”

The show is, by all accounts, a silly cavalcade of holiday hilarity. And while it is appropriate for all ages in both content and language, T.O.D. warns that it does contain a comic debate over the existence of Santa Claus, so parents of young believers may want to leave them at home to avoid THAT conversation.

But while Every Christmas Story Ever Told is T.O.D’s first regular production in the Arts Council space, it won’t be the last. Plans are already underway to produce Almost, Maine there as a “theatre-in-the-round” experience in February, and both groups are hoping the partnership becomes permanent.

“Obviously, they wouldn’t be able to do Spamalot here,” said Sawin. “But Theatre of Dare usually does one or two small-cast, small-set shows a season, and we think doing some of them here is a great way to bring the entire local arts community together. We’re glad we could help them out when they needed us.”

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” takes the stage Dec. 2, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees Dec. 3 and 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for season ticket holders and $6 for students, and all performances will be upstairs at the Dare County Arts Council, 300 Queen Elizabeth Ave. in downtown Manteo. For tickets and more information, go to

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