AHT artistic director Paul Hough directs the production in Missouri. This marks lyricist-librettist Sean Grennan and composer Leah Okimoto's third world premiere at the resident Equity company, following Married Alive! (which is starting to blossom in regional theatres around the country) and A Dog's Life.
Another Night Before Christmas will continue at American Heartland to Dec. 30.
All of Grennan and Okimoto's works are original, not drawing on source material. According to AHT, "'Twas the night before Christmas . . . and there's a burglar in the house. Or is it someone with an unusual attachment to reindeer!!? From the writers of Married Alive! and A Dog's Life comes a new family holiday musical about a disillusioned woman with a lack of holiday spirit and an intruder claiming to be Santa Claus. Either he's really the 'right jolly old elf' or this is a present she's going to want to take back! Find the true meaning of Christmas (or maybe just come to laugh like a bowlful of jelly!)"
In the new piano-and-voice show, Van Driest (a New York-based actress with Off-Broadway and regional credits) plays Karol, and Forston (a busy actor known for his character work in Chicago's theatre community) is The Guy. The two-character production has Karen Errington and Kevin Albert as understudies. Lyricist-librettist Grennan told Playbill.com, "I wanted to try out a number of things with this show. Leah and my other shows have been either revues or very episodic. This one is a straight 'book show' that takes place in real time on one set with only two characters to draw from."
Grennan explained that the musical is about Karol, a disillusioned social worker, and a homeless man named Guy, who breaks into her home and tries to convince her that he's Santa Claus. An earlier conception for the show included elf characters as a chorus, but they were cut when the core story began breathing on its own, the writer said.
The show had a summer reading in Chicago in 2007, around the time when the authors' earlier Kansas City hit, Married Alive!, was enjoying its Windy City premiere in a separate staging.
Another Night Before Christmas takes its title from the classic poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," widely known as "Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore.
The creative team includes musical director Anthony Edwards, stage managers Bill Christie and Jan Kohl, set designer Dale Unruh, costume designer Paul Hough, lighting designer Shane Rowse, sound designer Roger Stoddard and properties designer Bill Christie.
For more information about the AHT season, visit www.ahtkc.com. For more information about Grennan/Okimoto properties, visit www.marriedalive.net.