Families in Ennis might just have a new tradition to add to their growing list of things to do during the holiday season with the opening of “My Favorite Christmas” at the Ennis Public Theatre.
This is the only show that the theatre staff promotes for young children to be in attendance but it is a treat for young and old alike.
The play opens with a look into the lives of the Osborn family the night before Christmas and proves that some family havoc is worth laughing over. Angela Osborn, played by the talented and adorable Lauren Eriksen is the young daughter of the family and in her quest to wait for Santa learns that Christmas isn't just about what is under the tree.
Eriksen is in the third grade and has been acting since she was 4-years old. This is her first major production but judging by her talent, it will not be the last. She captivates the audience and holds her own as the main character of the show like a seasoned actress and proves to be more than a handful for a pair of would-be Christmas burglars.
The role of her brother Ben is played by Tyler Snow who shines in his portrayal of the stereotypical “pain-in-the-neck” older brother. Snow's character is at the age where his belief in Santa is a little shaky but not so much that he wants to test it. He questions his sister's faith in the jolly old man but in the end even he can't argue with some Christmas magic.
Snow is a 12-year old veteran to the stage having performed lead roles in many church and school productions. He has also worked in two other productions at the Ennis Public Theatre. His portrayal of Ben is something older brothers everywhere can relate to and is part of the reason why the kids in this production stole the show.
A random treat for those in attendance was seeing producer and author of the show, Bill Rhoten, as a cast member. His knack of multi-tasking seemed effortless as he provided comic relief with his portrayal of Eddie the elf.
Eddie turns out to be the hapless side-kick to a naughty and determined Santa that finds in his travels the joy of the season thanks to the actions of Angela. Rhoten's efforts throughout the play show a multi-faceted entertainer and leave no wonder as to why the theatre is successful and continues to grow under his direction.
Eddie's partner in crime, the naughty Santa, is played by Al Mayo who returned to the stage and the character for the second year. He has performed numerous times at the Ennis Public Theatre but got his start in Waxahachie after being encouraged by his family. His portrayal of the down on his luck Chris who dresses like Santa to break into homes on his quest to find a doll for his daughter is both funny and heart breaking.
The audience is taken through various stages of emotion beginning with humor at watching he and Eddie shimmy their way through an overhead window and at his efforts to manage the Christmas caper, not to mention a dim-witted Eddie, to sadness as the reasons for his law breaking actions came to light. He has great comedic timing and leaves no room for doubt as to why he continues to be a favorite at the Ennis theatre.
The parents in the play are also veterans to acting and have performed at the Ennis stage before. Marion Osborn is played by Samantha Spradling, who gives one of the best performances as a very convincing pregnant lady. Her sharp wit and tongue with her husband leave the audience with no doubt as to who rules the house in that family. Her character is reminiscent of mothers through the ages with her nagging about last minute details and the thought of putting her family first. This marks the second time Spradling has appeared on the Ennis stage this season and with her talent she has already turned into a crowd favorite.
Her counterpart in the play is her husband and the father of the Osborn brood Joe, played by John McNiel Jr. Joe's character is of the frenzied father who is trying to do all the right things to make Christmas a memorable occasion for his children while still balancing the duties of the man of the house and a dad to be - again.
This performance also marks his second performance at the theatre but he has participated in productions in Waxahachie as well. His “no holds barred” style of acting is a refreshing treat and no doubt part of the reason why the chaos in the Osborn family was so entertaining. He will undoubtedly be a repeat performer at the theatre for years to come.
The last member of the cast is by no means new to the Ennis stage however, he is a crowd favorite and this performance was no exception. Rickey Crenshaw plays the character of the sleep-walking neighbor Jim Parker who was supposed to dress up as Santa and surprise the Osborn kids on Christmas morning.
What really happens is that a disheveled and unconscious Parker wanders around the neighborhood unaware of the Christmas miracle taking place in the Osborn house. Crenshaw has performed at the theatre numerous times and also helps build the set. His ability for acting was a talent discovered late in life but better late than never for the audiences that he entertains. His ability to play every part with gusto makes Crenshaw a staple at the Ennis theatre.
With a heartfelt message behind the show, “My Favorite Christmas” might just be the local feel patrons need to help kick start the holidays. The show will run every weekend on Friday and Saturday nights from now until Dec. 17, when a special Monday evening performance will be held. Show times for evening performances are at 8 p.m and both Sunday matin/es held on Dec. 9 and 16 will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Ennis Public Theatre or at the door prior to the performance for $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. To learn more about the show or to purchase tickets contact the theatre staff at (972) 878-7529 or visit the Web site at www.ennispublictheatre.com